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Mass Transit Is Getting Derailed

Our country’s mass transit systems are in serious trouble. New York, Chicago, St. Louis, Washington DC, Charlotte, Boston, Atlanta, San Francisco.. the list goes on. Bus and the best place levitra paypal rail lines everywhere are being forced to raise fares, lay off hundreds of employees and eliminate stops (sometimes even full lines).

But the truly worst part of it all is that more people than ever before are using public transit. That means that more people are relying on those buses and trains to good choice levitra soft tablets get to work, and are now stranded. The demand is there – so why can’t public transit meet that demand?

The answer is that public transit fares only pay for a fraction (anywhere between 52% on the high end and 16% on the low end) of the service’s actual cost. The rest comes from state and local subsidies, which in turn come from things such as sales taxes – and since people aren’t buying much these days, sales tax revenue is slowing down to a trickle.

In short, what was once a fight to improve, refurbish and modernize public transit systems seems to have become a fundamental struggle to keep it alive, period. What are we to do?

For one thing, politicians are fighting hard to get as much stimulus money as possible to be dedicated to mass transit. According to Bloomberg, the current bill portions out $8.4 billion for mass transit across the nation, and New York Senator Chuck Schumer is trying to get another $6.5 billion added to that (given the size of its transit system, New York gets a fair amount of that money).

Here’s the thing, though – the money that transit authorities would receive from the stimulus bill would have to be used for infrastructure. This is important and necessary, but it means that fares will still go up, and it means that the buy viagra from china authorities will still have to lay off many employees. Yes, we need new buses and trains, and we need to no prescription online pharmacy fix crumbling tracks and sample viagra tunnels, but if fewer people can get to work, are we any better off?

I don’t think the stimulus money will solve the fundamental issues. Two things need to happen. First of cialis pfizer india all, transit systems need to figure out ways to reduce their costs in the long term. Maybe they should look into energy storage devices that can be charged with regenerative braking to reduce fuel consumption, or construction materials that are cheaper and last longer.

Secondly - and I know it’s unpopular – fares need to go up. Obviously, the reason that mass transit is subsidized so much is because a lot of its riders might not be able to afford riding if the fare reflected the true cost. But there are plenty of new mass transit passengers who can afford to pay more, especially in cities like New York where owning a car is a hassle, and riding the subway is the preferred option for many who could afford a car if they wanted one.

I don’t really know how transit authorities could raise fares for those who can afford it and lower fares for those who can’t. That might take some creative thinking. But what I do know what I would say to those who would protest a fare increase – would you rather pay more for transit or lose it entirely? Because that seems to be the choice we are facing.

Via NY Times, Bloomberg, WIRED

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Comments (12)Add Comment
written by jackson, February 04, 2009
I agree with you big time. There are a few ways off the bat to we use it canadian pharmacy levitra reduce costs. First is to reduce service where there isn't sufficient demand. Second is to address the labor costs--tell em if you don't think your wages are good enough, then don't work!

Over the long term there are solutions to our transportation that will make conventional rail entirely obsolete. The fixed magnet maglevs have a lot of promise. Although its a new concept, its very simple, uses almost no energy and very low operating costs, has low capital costs, and most importantly, goes way faster than any other form of transportation.
written by Temujin Kuechle, February 04, 2009
Most of our nations urban sprawl and and low density development almost requires that we drive some sort of vehicle. Our infrastructures that support this way of housing ourselves far away from essential needs is expensive to create and maintain. We have made this initial investment and now we are stuck with supporting it or we have two other options:
1 dismantle (pay people to remove suburban sprawl) and plan for a more efficient high density future.
2. let nature take it s course.
yes, money invested by those living in sprawl will be lost unless the government gives long-term tax breaks to them, however jobs will be created in the removal of look there viagra without prescription urban sprawl, creating higher density living planned around human needs not those of driving around an expensive car, and jobs restoring nature to where sprawl once existed. a medium sized city in Germany has taken this approach and the best site buy cialis online pharmacy ha great results. It is a way to cialis angioplasty invest in America now and its future, as well as our one and only planet. Just my 4 cents (Inflation you know).
Mass transit and measuring demands to fi
written by john VR, February 04, 2009
Public transportation can be described as the movement of an individual in a public space.

The individual however is faced with a disadvantage when the cheap canadian pharmacy means of transportation at his disposal are limited in comparison with other more resourceful individuals.

In order to counterbalance this intrinsic disadvantage, the government is given the option to the transportation companies or B. reduce the public transportation services in general.

Ultimately the price of your trainticket might be moderately high, as well as your discomfort due to the reduced service.

Finally i would like to remark the relation with the car industries interests....

The consumer must pay anyway,
but as an individual consumer let me pay for a more efficient and less polluted public space while i am moving towards my goal.
written by Niel McDowell, February 04, 2009
The hundreds of millions of dollars in federal appropriations to highways needs to cheapest prices for viagra be partially redirected. We need to fundamentally rededicate our public money to benefit the transportation infrastructure that will serve us the best going forward, and that's not more and wider highways.
written by Amy, February 04, 2009
I am in full agreement with Neil! Bus/transit fares do not reflect the true cost of ridership, but neither does driving. I think revenue from increased road tolling could help. At least if the tolling paid for the roads, the federal money could be redirected towards transit.
Marketing is the problem.
written by Josh Clauss, February 05, 2009
This is quietly one of the biggest problems America is facing (and we're certainly not the only one).

I live (and ride buses/trains) in Denver, CO, an area with *extreme* sprawl that faces many of the transit problems accounted for above. I'm fresh out of school with a low-paying, entry-level job - and on January 1st, local fares increased from $1.25 to $2.00 per ride. Two dollars may not seem like a lot to people who don't have to ride the bus, but focus more on the percentage change in price. Try to name ANYTHING else that increased in price 60% just because the calendar flipped from 2008 to 2009. It is a serious problem for the people who NEED the service, and need it to be cheap.

To me, it is a problem of marketing, something that local governments are notoriously terrible at. With proper marketing strategy that engages, cleverly addresses stereotypes of mass transit, features the economic benefits in switching from personal travel, and making the user experience as convenient as possible by utilizing scalable technologies that are already available to implement. Convincing the consumer that has a choice that public transit is safe, reliable, more affordable than alternatives, and more convenient than most imagine would produce revenues that aren't currently there.
Did everyone forget how much is being wa
written by Seriouly, February 05, 2009
Well said!, and to push things a bit further... Since when did we stop questioning the war budget? The federal reserve's money drain?
I don't think the real issue has been brought to canadian cialis 50mg light just yet. Cutting on public transportation, education, and health is going to get us anywhere (no pun intended, seriously!)

Until we can start spending on things that makes sense! If the US is going to go further in to debt, then at least let's use that money on things that are necessary, that would actually create a huge difference in the long term.

Niel McDowell wrote: "The hundreds of millions of dollars in federal appropriations to highways needs to be partially redirected. We need to fundamentally rededicate our public money to benefit the transportation infrastructure that will serve us the best going forward, and that's not more and wider highways." BTW, Well said
I am in complete agreement
written by Chris, February 05, 2009
Once the public transportation infrastructure is more or less gone, it will be very hard to revive it. Here in Germany, a lot of stimulus money will go to building new streets and highways, while public transportation will not benefit from the stimulus package at all. The short-sighted focus on individual transportation, which will not be sustainable for much longer, is a very sad thing.

But what can you do - as long as most of the general public is not interested in our public transportation systems, there will never be enough political preassure to really change things...
Cars are subsidized too
written by Anon, February 05, 2009
I agree with Amy's point. Sure, the public subsidizes public transit. But don't forget that the public subsidizes driving too. The cost of building, maintaining, and improving roads, not even to mention the cost of policing them and the negative environmental externalities, is not reflected in the driver's costs.

I often get into cost discussions with my husband, who is more cost-conscious than environment-conscious. For both of us to take the subway to buy generic cialis online downtown Chicago and back, it would cost $9. But often we can find free parking (since we're driving in off-peak) or, at worst, pay $2 to feed a meter. Driving also takes less time and involves less walking (we're not lazy -- just cold). I advocate we still take the bus, and I often win that argument, but this is a cost calculus that millions of Americans must make every day. And in cities with more suburban sprawl and hence more cheap parking, like Dallas and Atlanta, the cost differential between mass transit and driving is even greater.

Not until we make driving more expensive (like happened when gas prices soared) can we talk about raising public transit fares. Otherwise, you're advocating that the public subsidize driving more so than mass transit!
1/2 price tickets
written by camarco, February 06, 2009
I live in Switzerland where we have a rather strong developpded System of public transport. In the 80ies Switzerland introduced the half price ticket: You pay a certain amount at the beginning of the year and are after that allowed to ride ALL public transports (train, bus, tram, ship, cablecars,...) at half price. This has become a rather strong incentive to move away from the car, because you have much lower immediate expenditure (as you have with cars: riding a car is expensive, but not if you only count the fuel price)
A further development is the "General Abonnement": Pay once, ride free the whole year.
If you still need a car somewhere, there's the mobility cars which you can hire at each railway station 24/7 at very low cost if you have a half price ticket or General-Abonnement.
But one reason that this works so well, is that Switzerland is very small and densly populated, so the US may have to use this principle on more local scales.
Another Possible Solution
written by JK, February 07, 2009
What if municipalities limited the number of new parking garages within city limits. If this were the case, the only real way in and out of the city would be public transportation as the cost and i recommend levitra endurance availability of parking continued to climb. That is what has happened in New York and Boston as things have become progressively more congested. People could still have their cars for inter-city and suburban travel (groceries, other purchases, etc). But the only way to access the levitra online 50mg city (say for work or events) would be to used public transit. Now while some would argue that this would infringe upon personal freedom, it would also save the government the cost of setting up the infrastructure for the parking garage the additional traffic, and not to mention the overall fuel consumption for the 40-50 minute commutes sitting in traffic. To see what I am talking about just go to any major US city put it in google maps and search nearby for "parking garage"
written by Aleon, May 11, 2012
So far none of the solutions mentioned (Including comments) are realistic. Anti-car measures will not improve terrible transit. The majority of transit's problems come from bad decision making, not funding. Taking money away from the highway fund to support transit is silly. We subsidize transit much more than transit riders subsidize roads which buses need to travel on (if people stopped driving, there would be no gas tax, this means the government would have to tax the heck out of bus and bike riderships).

The future is not even in public transportation. PT is an archaic mode of transportation. The future is in electric cars, and other inventive ideas that are based on car models and not PT. Only those stuck in the past deny this reality.

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