Questioning transit system is necessary

Published 12:18 am Sunday, May 30, 2010

Natchez has been a hub of mass transit since flatboats first landed at Natchez Under-the-Hill.

Flatboat men used the Mississippi River as their water highway and returned to the north using the land highway of the day, the Natchez Trace. That system was among the most efficient, most logical systems for transporting goods in its day.

Today, our area is still a hub of transportation — both of goods and service and people.

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While many of us take for granted the automobiles sitting in our driveway, for many residents personal transportation is out of reach.

The Natchez Transit System has filled that need since 1981. Since its inception the NTS has grown from a single vehicle to a fleet of more than 30. And with an annual budget of $1.2 million, it’s no small venture anymore.

While we realize the needs are great, we also urge the city and the federal agencies, which help fund the program, to annually review the effort to ensure taxpayers are getting the most bang for their buck.

Providing approximately 60,000 trips each year on a $1.2 million budget means each trip costs approximately $20.

If the Natchez Transit busses were always full — or even half full — perhaps that $20 would be money well spent. But when that $20 ride is for a single person, we wonder if a better, more efficient system exists.

Questioning the system may not be popular, but it’s necessary. Such routine scrutiny should be a part of every budget process to determine if the government program is working as it was intended and operating as efficiently as possible.

The need for public transportation must be met, but good government accountability must be considered, too.