Last city council meeting, the Newport Council unanimously decided to beg the county for $224,430 in new taxpayer funds in order to create a commercially unsustainable taxi industry on the peninsula, or bail out an existing one (depending on which angle you want to view it from).
As everyone knows, there is no problem getting from Newport Pier to Balboa Pier. In fact, there are already at least FOUR inexpensive (and even free) options to do so. Taxis, Uber (et al), and even a trolley system with the OC Cruiser all offer services from pier to pier.
While none of that sounds unreasonable, there is even a new system in place called the Downtowner which allows you to hail a private golf cart for exactly zero dollars (they base their business off ads and driver tips). They currently only pick up at the Newport Pier but will drive you anywhere you want to go on the peninsula. The only thing stopping them from expanding is parking for new vehicles, which can be easily purchased through either existing businesses, from the city itself, or from the parking garage down by the ferry.
So if there are already-operating businesses which accomplish the goal of why the city is applying for money– what will Newport Council do with all that dough? Will they create a new taxi service to compete with everyone fighting to make it in the free market, thereby nearly certainly killing businesses and business owners while increasing the government employee count– or will they choose winners and losers by giving all the money to a vendor of their choosing, giving them an unfair economic advantage over all their competitors?
I spoke with one councilperson who asked for their name to be withheld, and they told me that this money would, in fact, be used to pick winners and losers. It would be going to a company which has already been defined and the money would be spent not just to buy new equipment, but also to pay ExplorOcean for parking storage. Yes– despite there already being plenty of private parking and an overwhelming amount of public parking, this whole thing is going to wind up putting money into the pockets of ExplorOcean, once again.
So will we get the grant that the council applied for from the county? Probably. Where will that money go? Into the hands of a business owner who– if they aren’t already– will surely be sucked into the mesmerizing delusion that government knows best.
Shame on Newport Council once again for trying to fix things that aren’t broken.
Shame on Newport Council once again for wasting tax dollars.
Shame on Newport Council once again picking winners and losers, and interfering in the free market.
I wish all of our transportation vendors luck as our council attempts to create a transportation solution in a way that only bureaucrats can.