That’s gonna cost ya

Posted by – September 3, 2008

For an advocate of socialist public policy it’s disheartening to come to comprehend the levels of waste and inefficiency that are acceptable when public servants spend public money.

Most recently the City of Helsinki has been caught by surprise by the disappearance of JCDecaux-provided rubbish bins. The contract for them ended, so JCDecaux carted off about a thousand of them, presumably to take to the tip (they’re not in great condition). So now they have to be replaced – at a cost of half a million euros, according to deputy mayor Sauri. That’s 500 euros per bin, in bulk. Assuming they don’t go overbudget.

This brought to mind a previous story concerning sound signals at road crossings for blind people. Some years ago the various clinking and rattling signals had been unified to make all the signals uniformly beepy, at unknown (to me) cost. More recently someone had determined that the beepy sounds are no good and should be replaced by clinking (“nakuttava”) sounds. Some existing machines could do this with a software upgrade, but the machines at around 125 crossings would have to be replaced at the cost of 250 000 – 300 000 euros, or 2000-2400 euros per crossing. While I wholeheartedly support the clinking sound and appreciate that the development costs of such technology must be considerable, I can’t help but think that there must be a better way.

1 Comment on That’s gonna cost ya


  1. The term in British English for the “nakutus” of an internal combustion engine is “pinking”. Isn’t that exactly what these Helsinki traffic lights too sound like?


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