April 1, 2015

"Two-tiered public transportation"

By Joshua P. Thompson Senior Attorney

“Two-tiered public transportation” — that’s the punchline to this report I heard on NPR this morning. The report covers a recent increase in private luxury buses catering to San Francisco residents.  This is a problem according to the San Francisco Transit Riders Union — yes this is actually a thing — because it allows more wealthy riders to opt out of the public system. This, in turn, will lead to less money for public transportation as previous users opt to go private.  If that happens, there will be less support for public transportation among residents as a whole, and individuals will be more likely to vote against increased funding for public transportation.

Organizations like SFTRU prefer a one-tiered system. In their utopia, rich and poor alike will wait hours for their bus to arrive. The classes will join together to enjoy dirty and smelly bus seats.  Everybody will get the chance to fear for their safety when riding a bus. Then, once everyone is uniformly disgusted with the state of public transportation, the voters will churn out and vote for massive increases in taxes and spending for public transportation.  The result will be public buses that are clean, safe, timely, enjoyable, comfortable, don’t smell, offer free coffee, and have a mini-fridge with snacks.  Because when government can provide a service the best way to ensure improved performance is to increase funding and decrease competition.

Of course, the private companies are already providing the desired service for under $7 a trip. [Yes, there’s a mini-fridge.] Fortunately, for those who want higher taxes and worse service, NPR reports that San Francisco will be holding hearings next month to determine how to regulate the private buses.

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