ESCANABA — On Aug....
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DATA Part 1. How many empty DATA buses have you seen today? Ask yourself that question each day. Take the time to look and you will see that the DATA busses are almost always empty. Maybe 1 or two people on a bus capable of carrying 20. Now the obvious question that comes to mind right away is why are the DATA busses empty most of the time, and why is a full size bus used to transport one or two individuals when a small mini van could acomplish the same thing most of the time. These are just a couple of the most obvious problems with DATA. DATA or Delta Area Transit Athourity is a bus service that has been in Delta county since 1989, it is publicly funded with your tax dollars through a milliage on private property. The DATA bus has had almost a quarter century to become self sufficient and prove that their serivce is needed in Delta county. Yet each year over the past 24 years the service gets worse and costs more. In fact this year DATA will be seeking another milliage in August.
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DATA part 2) It really bothers me that there is not a reliable and economical source of transportation for the areas handicapped individuals. Frankly I find it unaceptable. Normally my philosphy has been that if a service of any kind is truly needed then someone in the private sector will find a way to provide that service, its called supply and demand. However with transporting the public in Escanaba this basic economic principle doesn't apply because of the strict city ordinance regulatinbg taxi cabs. The city ordinance regulating taxis dictates every aspect of how a private business is run, from the size of the sign, to the color of your cab, the city council even sets the rates you can charge your customers. Lets take a peek at a few of the worst parts the city ordinance. Sec 30-31 says you must submit the following to the city of Escanaba #(3) says, "A statement of Financial worth involving assets within the city."
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DATA part 3)#(5) says, " A list of references( at least three as to integrity, habbits, reputation, and financial ability. Section 30-33, says that the city of Escanaba can decline your request to open your private buisness simply if they find that in their opinon you are not of "good moral Character" Section 30-35 says " That the city council shall consider the number of taxi cabs then operating in the city and determine if the demands of the public require an additional taxi service" Section 30-39 #(1) says, " that the Director of Public safety may revoke your taxi license at anytime". section 30-65 elaborates further on this point , " If the holder therefore shall be convicted or plead guilty of any violation of this article or any of the traffic ordinances of the city or of any federal statue or any penal law of the state, whether in relation to operation of motor vehicles or otherwise"
DATA part 4)Section 30-56 says, " No person shall drive a taxi cab on the streets of the city without first having obtained a drivers permit form the city clerk as provided in this section" Section 30-81 says that a Taxi must maintain a 24 hour dispatch and operate their buisness 24 hours a day including the phone service, failure to operate these will be sufficient reason for the cancellation of any license issued to the owner of the taxi cab Section 30-83 says. " No driver shall cruise in search of passengers at any time, and whenever a taxi cab is unoccupied, the driver either shall proceed at once by the most direct route to the taxi cab garage or stand customarily by the taxi cab, or shall park his taxi cab at any lawfull parking place, except such place as is regulary used as a city bus stop."
DATA part 5)Section 30-84 says " It shall be illegal for any owner or operator of any taxi cab buisness or any taxi cab operating within the city, to deviate from the rates of fares as approved by resolution of the cty coucil" Section 30-102 says," that no person shall or solicit buisness as a public carrier on any public street, county airport, buisness terminal, or other place of public assembly in the city, the vehicle shall only be hired by advanced reservation." Now folks you might understand why individuals are not lined up waiting to start a a taxi buisness in Escanaba.
DATA part 6)Because if you some how do secure a city taxi license ( I don't know who gave the city the athourity to give out drivers licenses since that is what a state chauffeurs license is for) and you pass the "good moral character" test and if council determines your taxi service is needed, (which they normally won't mind you) then they set your rates, they won't let you search for customers, and they can revoke your entire business and investment for basically anything they want to, at least according to the city ordinance. Who is willing to take that kind of gamble? very few people.
DATA part 7Michigan has determinedin in Melconian v. City of Grand Rapids, that, " the power to regulate must be sparing exercised and only when nessessary in the public interest" In yet another case the state surpreme court said, the only restriction on the control which a city may exersise over its streets under the constiutional provision is that it must be reasonable, and that it is held as a general rule that the requirments for obtaining a license must be so specifically pointed out in the ordinance that as to permit all applicants who comply therewith to secure a licenseas a matter of right The fact of the matter is DATA cares only about one thing, DATA and how much money can they fleece out of us.
DATA part 8)My personal experience with DATA has been a total disaster almost every time. My mom is in a wheel chair, so unforchanatly I have had to us the DATA bus. One time when mom was being released from St Francis hospital, we had arranged the DATA bus the day before. Mom and I were in the lobby of the hospital waiting for the bus before they arrived. When the bus arrived the ramp on the bus was not wide enough to allow the wheels of the wheel chair to go up the ramp. I explained to the driver that we would just get mom into another chair, it would only take a few minutes. The driver said, I cant wait and she left. So here we were in the middle of winter stuck with no ride. I called the DATA bus, went through the absurd automated menu and finally got to talk with a lady and she told me that it would take three hours to get another bus to the hospital. She was very unfriendly on top of it and then she hung up on me.
DATA part 8)Eventually we did get another bus, and we went the half of mile from the hospital to the nursing home, on that short half of a mile trip I noticed 5 empty DATA busses. There were two at the Salvation army, both empty, two at the old doctors park, both empty, and one at the high school, which of course I couldn't see if anyone was in that particular bus but if I was a betting man I'd bet my last dollar that there was plenty of seating room. Not to mention we were the only ones on our bus. Sending a different bus for each person seems like a sure fire way to loose money, but then again maybe that's the idea. the more money they need the bigger the federal grant they get next year. There has been a few times when moms was at the hospital after 5pm and of course we know DATA doesn't run after 5pm so then we had to call rampart to go 6 blocks.
Data Part 10)The nursing home has even went as far as purchasing their own handicapped van to transport residents to and from appointments, and hiring a private driver, that is how great DATAs service is. The DATA bus of all things since they are paid for with tax dollars should be held to the same standards as the taxi cab. No special rules allowing them to close at 5pm, and forcing customers to call a day in advance to secure a ride. Please join me in voting NO on DATA this August.
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How about some real reporting. How many passengers did DATA carry last year? How much money did they receive in subsidies last year? How many $ per passenger? How many additional riders would they pick up from the townships? How much will each new rider costs? Looks like the Daily Press is a cheerleader for bureaucrats. "There's federal money we could get - let's do it!" Bet it's cheaper to buy every rider a car and provide a driver.
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Gee, took me five minutes to find it. Spent 1,512,000 in 2012 with 130,000 rides. That's about $11 per ride. How much is a taxi?
BTW, if someone rides to work everyday, that is 500 trips per year or $5,500 to give them a bus ride to work.
DATA is almost 25 years old, and its critics are voicing concerns and criticisms that were addressed and answered a long, long time ago. Today’s DATA is streamlined and a lot more cost effective than it was 20-25 years ago. It’s a service that is needed and appreciated. Voters in the cities of Escanaba and Gladstone have done right for themselves in approving property tax millage hikes for DATA, allowing for better service and getting more in federal and state funding. Those funds had just been left on the table for some other community to scoop up; now they’re used to help local residents. Taxis don’t work for residents in wheelchairs. People facing challenges need a less expensive option. Ours are caring communities. Residents of Escanaba Township and Wells Township, please do the right thing. It does so much good at very little cost. You will barely notice the difference on your tax bill!
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It's apparent that Blazer422 either owns a Taxi company in Escanaba or works for one. If the Milliage passes this adds demand bus service to Wells and Escanaba Township similar to Taxi service. Except the rates are affordable at less than $5 a ride where I am currently paying $15 a ride by taxi. Try putting a scooter or a power chair in a taxi as well. BTW I did look out DATAs hours and they are open from 7am till 6pm.
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I know first hand the value of the DATA system. My son is special needs, and the service provide by DATA is a Godsend to the families of special needs people in this community.
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It is clear that Blazer422 has issues with public transportation. Have you visited or contacted management to resolve these issues? It is important to know DATA Bus is a ‘Public’ entity created and operated by State and Federal Laws and oversight. Taxpayer funding comes from fuel taxes (state and federal)and local tax support directly from governmental entities (optional), or property taxes approved by voters in the systems authority area. Along with the federal fuel tax dollars comes a number of regulations and requirements that would make any city ordinance on ‘taxi’ operations a welcomed relief. I do not live in the jurisdictions voting for the current property tax support, however I do support the tax in Escanaba because public transportations may have some bad points but they are far less important than all the good things they provide to the citizens they serve.
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