Up on the Space Coast, an ecosystem of business has grown up around Port Canaveral to serve the cruise ship passengers. Great, that’s part of what big public infrastructure is supposed to do.
Drive in from another state, get a hotel room overnight and have the hotel shuttle drop you off at the port for your cruise. That’s good for the local economy. A shuttle bus driver has a job that didn’t exist. The hotel serves it customers and local restaurants sell a few more meals. Gas stations sell more gas and t-shirt stores sell a few more shirts. The local economy grows.
How does it work? Well, the port charges about $15 per day for parking. The hotels and off-site parking lots charge as little as $5.50 per day. That’s called the market at work. Business finds a need (cheaper parking) and fills it. So far, so good.
The Port is on track to make about $22 million this year, as compared to about $16 million last year. But a 40% increase is just not enough… Canaveral Port Authority board members have stopped issuing new park-and-ride permits. They have raised the per trip entry fee for park-and-ride operators, all in an effort to force cruise passengers to utilize the port’s parking lots.
The Port has received more than $100 million in tax dollars over the past twenty years. And now those tax dollars are financing a war against local business. Local business owners are steamed. And rightfully so.
Rather than compete by reducing price and delivering better service, The Port is simply trying to legislate the competition out of business. These kinds of heavy-handed taxpayer-financed tactics are what contributed to the rise of the Tea Party and the fall in congressional approval ratings. “Running government like a business” includes delivering better, cheaper products and services, not using resolutions and regulations to force customers to pay more.
UPDATE July 4, 2012: Port fee for lot owners rescinded, CEO Payne keeps his job by one vote in contentious meeting Looks like I was wrong, again. Sometimes you can fight the Port Authority and win.