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After the federal Department of Transportation killed Mayor Meeker’s Triangle Transit Authority’s plan to spend a billion dollars to build lite-rail (because too few people would ride it) taxpayers heaved a sigh of relief. But the TTA didn’t fade quietly into the sunset. The monster is back.

Leaders of a new Special Transit Advisory Commission have announced they’re ready to reveal a new plan to save us from the horrors of the automobile: at a cost $5 billion.

According to the ‘STAC’ it is studying several options: Trains. Buses. Diesel-buses. Trains and buses (in combination). They will give their final recommendation in February.

But they haven’t figured out one thing. Which they intentionally left for last. How to pay for it.

This sounds more and more like the old TTA: Sell everyone on the sizzle – then worry about the money later. Instead of asking: ‘What can we afford? And what is a reasonable cost to pay for a mass transit system with a limited number of riders?’

Instead the new urban planners set about designing a starship-like mass transit system – and that’s certainly easier when you decide up front not to worry about the money.

Last Tuesday, voters across North Carolina overwhelmingly voted down a series of tax increases which promoters said would pay for schools. Maybe, before the ‘STAC’ goes too far, we ought to put raising taxes to subsidize a $5 billion mass transit boondoggle on the ballot to see how it fares.

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