Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hey Metro. Wake Up! There is a solution to the transit problem

This probably needs to be up dated but I don't have time now. It will have to wait.


In February 1915, 518 private jitneys in Seattle carried 49,000 passengers daily. (Jrn Law & Econ)

Opening the inner city transit market to private bus companies, jitneys, and ride sharing taxis regardless of whether they are corporations or mom and pop part-time businesses will provide other alternatives to the private car and help reduce consumption of fossil fuels resulting in cleaner air, a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, slow the development of farm land, reduce city street congestion, save tax dollars and most importantly improve the lives of low income people while reducing the social problems associated with poverty.

Who Benefits from expanding transit services by opening the marketplace?

“The lack of personal mobility has economic, social and human costs, such as higher unemployment, reduced tax revenue, greater welfare and medical costs, and limited social potential.”

  • “Almost half of those without an automobile are persons 65 years or older, and of these, 81% are women.”
  • “...23% of full-time working mothers and almost 60% of part-time working mothers have non-traditional work hours. This reduces women’s ability to join carpools or find appropriately-scheduled transit options.”
  • “...nearly 40% of central city African-American households were without access to an automobile, compared to fewer than one of out five white central city households.”

Source: Using Public Transportation to Reduce the Economic, Social, and Human Costs of personal Immobility National Academy Press

A Brief History: The transit industry is one of the most heavily regulated in the nation. In many cities it is almost impossible for you to own a transportation business because of the rules.

Private cars called jitneys whose owners offered to carry passengers for a fee in the 1900s were the first victims of laws that were passed to protect the streetcars when jitneys began to appear on the streets about 1915. By the mid 1920s most cities had outlawed jitneys to protect the streetcar businesses which were owned by the electric utility companies.

Streetcars had been in decline for a number of years then in 1935 Congress passed the Public Utilities Holding Act that required the streetcar companies to be sold off from the electric companies that owned them. This led to the collapse of the streetcar business. The Supreme Court upheld the 1935 Public Utilities Holding Act in a 1946 decision known as North American Company v Security Exchange Commission.

In 1964 Congress passed laws that spurred the development of government operated local transit agencies.

Transportation Alternatives:

In the 1980s most of the public transit in England was turned over to private companies.

Helsinki, Finland: Fourteen private companies now operate much of the region’s bus service through competitive bidding. A 30% reduction in operating costs and a saving in subsidies has been achieved. Fares have been reduced by 12% and services expanded.

Stockholm, Sweden: In 1993 Stockholm began using private contractors to run their bus and rail system. Savings of nearly $150 million annually and reduced subsidies have been two improvements along with increased farebox revenue and more riders. Approximately 70% of the region’s bus service has been contracted out.

Copenhagen, Denmark: Similar results have been seen in Copenhagen where contracting out has been mandated by the Danish parliament.

Curitiba, Brazil: This transit system has been called one of the world’s best systems. With neighborhood circulators, intermediate services and express buses, all color coded, run by 16 private companies and overseen by a government agency this unsubsidized system is being copied by cities in other countries. With approximately 75% of the region’s 2.3 million daily commuters using the system, Curitiba sets an example of what can be done to build a modern effective service for a fraction of the cost when there is a willingness to innovate. Curitiba uses 25-30% less fuel then comparable cities which reduces air pollution giving Curitiba some of the cleanest air of any Brazilian city.

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