VTA fluff piece


To the Editor:

I’m sure the fawning fluff piece on the VTA [Soundings, May 3] was planned before they stole West Tisbury’s fuel business from Up-Island Automotive. Still, reading it, I could see the knife twisting deeper in Pat Jenkinson’s back. Yes, I know the profit goes to their fuel wholesaler, not the VTA itself. That is not a consolation. It’s the opposite, if anything.

“Imagine running a service that sees demand double [almost every month from February to July],” the article begins. The Vineyard’s revenue bell curve, with its apex in July/August, is news to no one who runs a year-round business here. Only, we don’t get two-thirds of that income from taxpayers who do not use our products or services.

Your reporter’s characterization of the VTA’s revenue is false and misleading. The figures can be found in any town’s annual report. Let’s examine them.

Excluding third party reimbursements, as the amounts in the revenue and expense columns are the same, there are four sources of revenue reported for FY2011. Fare box and Other: $1,280,113. State: $1,125,375. Federal: $940,459. Local: $767,121.

Local assessments for the VTA’s service are deducted from each town’s state aid. Oak Bluffs and West Tisbury receive enough to cover their entire assessments. Adding just these two together ($218,024 FY2011 actual) makes the VTA’s biggest source of revenue the state, not the fare box.

Also, separating the local, state, and federal sources is appropriate for an audit report. But these are all essentially the same thing: public funding provided by taxpayers, the majority of whom never set foot on a VTA bus.

In this economy, and with the level of public and private debt what it is, we do not need any more “success” stories like this. Where I work, I have to listen to and watch these giant, noisy buses run empty all day long for half the year. Such waste is only possible with government’s inevitable misallocation of capital.

A final note. If you are going to be banning posters at your website, particularly those who use their real full name, and where there was no clear violation of your Terms of Use, you might want to have an appeals process, and list it in your FAQ. With the existence of unlimited free email addresses, proxy servers and open WiFi, you are not going to prevent anyone from posting. You will just drive them into the pseudonym cesspool.

Benoit Baldwin