Should All Public Transit Be Free?

Think Tank | Big Think asks:

Should All Public Transit Be Free? : ""

I think the answer is "no". Some transit should be free, e.g. on campus where transit functions as a club good, serves only on-campus trips made by a campus community. Elevators should be free. Certainly the advantage of free is the lower collection costs and faster boarding times (and perhaps some induced demand, but I imagine this is relatively small). Were transit free, it would need to cover an additional 33% of operating costs, or cut service by 1/3 (or some combination). Were transit free, very low value trips would get made (e.g. teenage joy-riding), and I believe this would have a negative externality on more serious riders. When transit is on the left side of the U-shaped average cost curve with declining marginal costs (MC), free is a plausible argument if average costs can otherwise be covered (aside from the joy-riding problem). When transit has rising MC (as in the peak, or full commuter buses perhaps), free is definitely not a good option.

(Via .)

David Levinson

Network Reliability in Practice

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This page contains a single entry by David Levinson published on October 6, 2010 8:18 AM.

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