Today’s meeting of the Joint Committee on Transportation Committee held few surprises though the Department’s report on how they have been addressing the shortcomings found in a department wide review by consultant McKinsey & Co. was an interesting exercise in corporate culture techno-babble. The entire multi page handout was emblazoned with the words "NCDOT Transformation." Tons of lip service was paid to accountability, performance metrics and controls. All of the performance enhancing rhetoric in the world won’t fix a bureaucracy that is controlled by a good old boy network that uses cronyism as its main tool.
The committee also heard presentations from the choo-choo people in Charlotte and Raleigh. Charlotte is singing the praises of light rail’s economic impact on the areas of the Queen City served by the train. This appears to be their lead tactic to secure funding in the future. They claim that property values near the train have increased more than the rest of Charlotte. They also outlined the plan to build Charlotte’s version of Grand Central Station uptown. The total funding request for the Charlotte Transit system is $470 Million for the next 15 years.
Not to be outdone by their big brother to the west, the Triangle Transit Authority gave the next presentation using Charlotte’s experience as justification for their efforts. TTA General Manager David King, formerly of the NCDOT, (King fell on his sword during the Ferry Division’s infamous "booze cruise.") cited Charlotte’s successes to push for more funds for the Triangle’s own choo-choo. Their funding wish list includes new taxes for the Triangle in the form of a 1/2 cent sales tax to go along with the money they already get from the State and Federal government and the rental car tax. TTA’s wish list adds up to $2.3 Billion. ‘Em trains are high class travelin’!