This is a letter to the editor written by Ithaca resident Jim Kerrigan. It was not written by The Ithaca Voice. To submit letters to the editor, please send them to Matt Butler at email@example.com.
Thanks in general to The Voice for being the only local newspaper, and specifically for today’s coverage of the TCAT budget issue.
I have tried to follow this issue a bit, but information has been scant.
If, as you say, 75% of TCAT riders are Cornell affiliated. then Cornell should pay 75% of the total operating and capital budget. I am not sure what your 75% Cornell affiliated figure means. It would be helpful to know what the bus fare is and what students pay per ride if anything.. Students seem to get on by showing their ID, do they ride free, if not, at what rate?
What is total fare income?
If one assumes it is good public policy to subsidize low-income folks, it is difficult to justify subsidizing a medium six figure income tenured professor getting a subsidy for a ride to campus from North Lansing or downtown or Trumansburg. Especially if compared to a Cornell food service worker who may or may not make a living wage and who clearly cannot compete for an apartment rental near his or her campus place of employment.
I am under the impression that students show their student ID and ride for free which may or may not be so. It is difficult to watch students get on the bus in Collegetown, apparently ride for free, and take a bus to classes. If a student or a student’s family can pay well over a thousand dollars in Collegetown rent they can pay a dollar for a ride to classes. Why, back in the day I walked a couple of miles to school daily, and it was uphill both ways.
I am strongly in favor of subsidized transportation. It must be noted that Cornell benefits significantly when food service employees, barely making a living wage, if they do, are able to get to work on the bus. They clearly cannot compete with students whose families pay exorbitant rents. There are different calculations when mid six figure income professors ride from North Lansing or Trumansburg. We need to know if their IDs get them free bus rides?
Cornell also benefits from not paying to build multi-million dollar parking garages on campus, while staff ride the bus from outlying parking lots to central campus.
Perhaps a landlord should be required to provide van service as some do from their units to campus, or perhaps we should see state legislation authorizing a one percent gross tax on all rents in the county in excess of $1000 per student? A commuter tax?
Being able to compare what I pay to ride the bus with what Cornell pays per student bus ride might be information to help the discussion.
So maybe the follow up story will address whether Cornell bus fares in Ithaca are another example of accelerating income disparity in this country?
So to conclude where I started this letter, thanks for starting the coverage of this issue with your reporting.