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Bribe to "Ride CARTA Week" - A Taxpayer Charade!
Lee Walton

Mercy! Now there's a new low - even for CARTA and its glitzy Madison Avenueish advertising consultants - bribing people to ride the bus by giving away "… breakfast, as well as gift certificates from local businesses." Breakfast and Gift Certificates - why not just hand out Dollar Bills to anybody standing next to a bus stop as a bribe to hop on and ride? What's worse is that the CARTA Board, Howard The Bag Man Chapman, Mayor J. Pericles Riley and the Palter and Chatter now have the unmitigated gall to brag about it in their newspaper. The nerve of these conspiring polemics using ½ cent sales tax revenue from our pockets to spuriously pad CARTA's ridership numbers in order to justify a request for increased state and federal transit funding next year. Who's kidding whom? The Bag Man is just cooking-the-books as usual to get more tax revenue and then blow it out the tail pipes of CARTA's big empty buses.

Saturday's 'Ride CARTA Week' article in the Palter and Chatter was even brassier - "CARTA officials started off this summer asking for 50,000 people to try the bus system at least once and they'd pick up the tab." Again, who's kidding whom? Local, state and federal taxpayers picked up this tab. Unless CARTA's started printing money, the taxpayers always "…pick up the tab." Even on The Bag Man's best day, fare box revenue would cover less than a third of the total cost to operate CARTA. The only way CARTA could ever "…pick up the tab" is if it could make a real profit, the way profit is defined in the private sector, but CARTA never has made a profit and it never will. Only a very few of the largest transit systems in the nation, those that serve multi-million, dense urban populations, come close to breaking even. So why insult the taxpayers of Charleston County and say that CARTA will "…pick up the tab." The taxpayers paid for CARTA to bribe people to ride - it's that simple. It gave away our hard-earned tax dollars and breakfast too!

Then there's that other recent advertising blunder that insulted our intelligence - the big CARTA Billboard on Interstate-26 proclaiming the ultimate in double-speak "Let Us Worry About The Price Of Gas ---CARTA. " What were CARTA's brilliant, well paid advertising geniuses thinking? Those big empty "Global Warmers On Wheels" get about 3 or 4 miles per gallon lumbering aimlessly around Charleston every day spewing countless pounds of noxious pollutants and green house gases into the air. Just who do The Bag Man and the Palter and Chatter think is worrying about the price of diesel fuel? It sure isn't CARTA; it burns fuel faster than the Cross-town floods in a thunderstorm. Honestly, the Palter and Chatter and CARTA Board must think that the taxpayers of Charleston County just fell out the back of a Wadmalaw Island Turnip Truck.

While we're discussing all the brilliant, award-winning leadership on the CARTA Board, there's another puzzling sight the public and, more properly, the Palter and Chatter's "World Class Reporters" need to investigate. What's the story behind that shiny "Collier Keenan LEASE Sign" now posted in front of CARTA's new multi-million-dollar Passenger Transfer Station at the corner of Cosgrove and Rivers? Did the CARTA Board, led by that wonderful example of transit management expertise, Howard The Bag Man Chapman, make another embarrassing financial "Boo Boo" with our tax dollars? What's certain is that the sun will rise in the west before the Palter and Chatter reports on this or any other management blunder and hold CARTA publicly accountable to the taxpayers who always seem to get stuck and have to "…pick up the tab."

The next time you look at the state and federal tax deductions from your paycheck or the extra taxes added to your sales receipts, ask yourself who's picking up CARTA's tab?

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