How to waste $50 million
of taxpayer money
Utah Governor Gary Herbert just signed a bill designed to fix Utah Transit Authority’s (UTA) mismanagement woes. That much is good. Mr. Herbert wasn’t terribly thrilled, however, about the part calling for changing the name “Utah Transit Authority” to “Transit District of Utah.”
I’m not thrilled, either, because the change comes with a $50 million price tag.
Proponents argue the change is a rebrand, needful to win back trust.
For most people, the UTA experience—the customer experience being the essence of any brand—consists of stepping onto a bus or train, sitting down, and riding. The scandal-laden inner workings of UTA hardly touched that experience if at all. If it did, it will be the revamp of governance and policy, not changing the name, that improves it.
If the legislature is worried about extensive, negative local media coverage of UTA’s inner workings, they should be reassured that there has also been extensive coverage of the fix. If they’re worried that some may have missed the latter, less than $100,000 toward flyers and billboards could work wonders.
$100,000 is considerably lower than $50,000,000.
It is, to be exact, two-tenths of a percent of it.
It wouldn’t surprise me if an ad agency and a sign company turned out to have lobbied hard for the change. There’s a lot of money to be made with design (and—trust me on this—an expensive albeit lame slogan will be part of the package), changing the look of buses and trains, replacing signs, and doing an ad campaign to tell everyone what they already know.
You could pay for a lot of textbooks, fix a lot of potholes, conduct a lot of medical research, vaccinate a lot of kids, provide a lot of healthcare, or feed a lot of homeless with that kind of loot.