Friday, May 9, 2008

Transit pays higher gas prices, too

With all the talk about drivers leaving their cars at home and switching to transit due to high gas prices, one thing that is left out of the conversation is that transit agencies have to pay more for gas, too. This story from the StarTribune raises the point.

If transit fares rise, the benefits of leaving your car at home will diminish. Hopefully this will not be the case, but if the ridership increases are real this is a perfect opportunity to examine if transit suffers from too few riders or too little subsidy. If it's too few riders, then the excess capacity should be taken up by new users and the overall operation will become more efficient. If more riders and their fares show up and there is still not enough money, then perhaps the subsidy is inadequate. If the agencies are just using the excuse of more riders as a reason to ask for more money without efficiency or mobility gains, then maybe it's time to rethink how we operate transit.

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