Public Transit Systems are Usually a Bad Idea

“You could buy every single person who will regularly use this boondoggle their own personal Prius, and you’d not only use less energy, you’d spend a hell of a lot less money doing it.” (via) (and)

5 Comments

  1. Tammi Diaz says:

    Utah Transit Authority has good Bus Service in Down Town Salt Lake City, in the Avenues and at the University of Utah with they Subsidized Students and Faculty Discounts Beyond what other Fare Pass Holders Pay in the amount $6.3 Million each.

    Light Rail is moving Full Speed ahead,the Destruction of the Bus System has alarming proportions. There are many Components to this process of Destruction.

    Through Mismanagement,Aggressive Elimination of Bus Routes and Fare Increases Utah Transit Authority is Destroying the Bus System.

    Utah Transit Authority needs to get Accessible Vans and Small Buses to go into Neighborhoods to take Individauls to the Main Bus System.

    John Inglish General Manager Salary $266,614 Bonus $39,860 Other
    Incentives $60,526 TOTAL $367,000, there 9 more High Payed Executives receive Huge Salaries and Huge Bonuses. All at TAXPAYER
    EXPENSE!

    UTAH TRANSIT AUTHORITY is a PUBLIC SERVICE! UTAH TRANSIT AUTHORITY RECEIVE PUBLIC FUNDS.

    Go to transitriderNOSPAMsunion.blogspot.com

  2. Lee says:

    Thank you Tammi for that drive by comment spam.

  3. Free says:

    I have to question both the original article, and the conclusions drawn from it.

    First off, how do they get the idea that if the streetcar runs 12 hours a day, that is only 8 hours after figuring in breaks for conductors? If you have two conductors for each streetcar (which is what is assumed), then you do not have to stop the streetcar when one of them is taking a break.

    Second, 10 or 15% ridership would be way lower than I’ve seen in, say, Baltimore streetcars, even when Baltimore buses and subways are much less full. People like streetcars. The routes are obvious, unlike buses for which you need complicated schedules and timetables. You can see one coming and run for it, unlike subways. For whatever reason, streetcars do in fact get a much higher percentage ridership than other forms of public transit.

    Moreover, every time you increase the availability and convenience of public transit, you increase the usage of all public transit, not just the streetcars themselves. For an easy example, I remember (back in the days of the dinosaurs) when the Washington, DC subway was a mile long. Practically no one took it, because even if it went past their home or office, it probably didn’t go where they wanted to go from their home or office. Now that the subway system is up to 106.3 miles, so many people take it that the government is having to figure out how to put more people into each train and/or more trains on the rails to serve all the people who want to use it. So building a streetcar doesn’t just gain you money from the streetcar fares, but also from the extra people who use the bus or subway to get to or from the streetcar.

    Conversely, he assumes that public transit loses money if the revenues are less than the expenses. That is simply not true. Governments pay for every car on the highway, in many ways. First, few roads are toll roads, so the government is paying for laying roads, plowing roads, repairing roads, etc., and is not getting that money back from users of the roads. If you create enough public transit that you need fewer roads, or if don’t have to increase the width of existing roads, or if the wear and tear (and thus repair costs) of existing roads are less, then there is a benefit to the government of public transit that is not measured by the fares paid.

    Government also suffers indirect costs when people drive cars. There is more congestion leading to more accidents (requiring more police, fire, ambulance, and hospital services), more pollution-related health issues, etc. Again, government is paying for the costs of driving, and saves money when it can persuade fewer people to drive.

    I have no idea whether light rail in Cincinnati would be more or less costly, after taking into account all of the above, than other forms of public transit. I do know that a) the article overstates the costs and understates the benefits of Cincinnati light rail, and b) regardless of whether light rail is the best choice (there or elsewhere), public transit in general keeps a city a lot more livable, both for those who use it and for those who enjoy cheaper gas, less crowded roads, etc. because other people use it.

  4. Lee says:

    Free, I’ll respond in depth to your comment after Burning Man in a couple weeks.

  5. lee says:

    Life is too short. I don’t have the time to respond to this properly. Sorry.

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