A Plea For Slightly Less Integrated Transportation Planning

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municipal airportThe Herald’s has done a fine job pointing out one of the dumb things we do as a state — provide massive subsidies for little-used local airports that have no relevance to the transportation needs of the state.  Check out pg. 17 of this chart just to see how little usage many of these airports get.

Many of these airports are home to a handful of privately-owned planes and certainly provide a service for those people, but the Herald correctly asks why the vast majority of commercial air travelers should be taxed to pay for it.

The Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission is the state agency charged with the task of maintaining these smaller airports. And they have no compunction about these subsidies. Bravely noting on their website that have leveraged almost $160 million in federal funds with only $76 million in state funds because, of course, federal money is free.

There are a number of major regional airports that play an important role in the state, Barnstable and Nantucket come to mind. But these airports have the capacity (and market demand) to support themselves through user fees. As for the rest of them, having your own plane sounds like a fun hobby but I shouldn’t have to pay for it.