The video that Reason reporter and has-been MTV VJ Kennedy was reportedly putting together has finally hit and her take is that funding for CaBi is a wasteful subsidy for highly educated and affluent whites.
There is, as they put it, nothing wrong with that but they do so in a deceptive manner.
First of all, the tax money that has been used so far isn't money that was set aside for social justice or transportation equity. It was money that was set aside for Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) improvement. Now, you're free to complain that CMAQ money isn't creating transportation that serves the poor or less educated or minorities, but doing so is like complaining that your TV doesn't make coffee. Perhaps we shouldn't have a program that makes it easier for people to partake of clean, healthy transportation and to have greater transportation options if that program largely serves well-educated, high-earning white people, but Kennedy never says why that is. I think it's more reasonable to argue the government has an interest in transportation options, public health and clean air - regardless of who wins most from the programs designed to further those interests.
It's true that Montgomery County got a grant that is meant to "address the unique transportation challenges faced by welfare recipients and low-income persons seeking to obtain and maintain employment." But, that money hasn't been spent yet, at least not entirely, and the program it was to set up hasn't been started yet and the stations it was to install don't exist yet. So mentioning it, without including that fact, is deliberately deceptive. And it's something Kennedy never mentions. Even when the program is started, it will only represent one small portion of the federal money used for CaBi thus far. So it will be fair to judge the MoCo program on it's ability to improve transportation equity, but not to somehow project that over the whole system.
In addition, the report doesn't mention anything about the outreach efforts that CaBi has made to include lower income members or other barriers - such as where the poor tend to live and how old they tend to be - that limit their membership.
[BTW, I wonder if DC Pedicab knew it would be kind of a hit job on CaBi when they agreed to help in the production of it]
Felix Salmon piles on, using the survey as proof that his claim that a DDOT program to attract the unbanked wouldn't work because few of the survey participants appear to be poor an unbanked.
There are two flaws with this.
First of all, this survey was done online and represents a self-selected group of members, not a representative group. The people who are unbanked are exactly the same people who won’t respond to an online survey. Of course they won’t show up in the numbers
Second and most importantly, this month-long survey was started on November 14, 2011. The program to enlist the unbanked was launched on Dec 16, 2011, which means the survey was done before the unbanked-assistance program that he's criticizing was started. How exactly would you expect the beneficiaries of a program to show up in a survey done before the program started?