Letter | Bus ride from Myrtle Beach airport no bargain for visitors or RTA

10/03/2013 5:46 PM

10/04/2013 7:10 AM

If we must have a socialized, loss-generating, government-owned transportation system that competes with local, independent, taxpaying service providers, let's do so wisely.

Visitors arriving in Myrtle Beach have been, and continue to be, well and economically served by our privately owned taxicabs. The Coast Regional Transportation Authority’s 747 route, the one that serves beachfront hotels to/from the airport, is frequently the more expensive alternative for its patrons.

Specifically, a vacationing couple with two kids taking RTA's #747 might pay $28 to get to the Caribbean at 29th Avenue North, the farthest point served on the route, and thus the most expensive cab ride. Cab fare to the Caribbean would total about $20. Closer to the airport, a cab ride to Spring Maid Resort might cost that same family about $10 versus, still $28 for the family to travel on the RTA's 747 route.

Putting aside the issue of whether the traveling public is well served by the 747 route, consider the economics of operating this route. I estimate that direct labor, fuel, and amortization/depreciation of the vehicles costs the RTA $18,000 per month, which comes to $69,000 for the six months of operation. During this time, the RTA has heralded the success of their operation by virtue of having carried 4,000 paying customers. At an average ticket price of $6 per trip, this “success” has yielded $24,000 of revenue, at an out-of-pocket cost of not less than $69,000.

The numbers speak for themselves. To put this another way, it would have been cost less money for the RTA to have provided free taxi rides for our visitors, with the RTA paying the cabbie the full meter.

Speaking personally, I'm not opposed to all forms of socialism. The TVA brought power to much of the rural South when private enterprise wouldn't do it. And that was good. But with the RTA's 747 route, we have a government undertaking that is competing with, and hurting, private local business. And as shown above, the RTA 747 service is inefficient and uneconomical. Visitors to Myrtle Beach have economical transport alternatives--the need for this route just isn't there

So, why do we continue to direct all-too-limited tax dollars at this boondogle? Wouldn't our tax resources be more wisely spent on an extra teacher, or fireman, or policeman?

The writer is a cab driver in Myrtle Beach, and former corporate financial officer who also taught Economics at the University of Tennessee.

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