Solution for Transit: Operate For Profit

Transit should operate on a for-profit basis, and its prices should closely reflect market forces — even if it means that transit fares increase.

Mass transit has one major advantage: where there is sufficient demand, transit is inherently cheaper than private automobile usage because the costs are spread over many people, making the per-person cost lower. That’s why most people fly with commercial airlines instead of chartering private jets, for example. But keeping the price too low reduces the ability of transit service to provide more routes and to expand into sustainability.

This may seem like a radical departure, but consider that London, England, contracts out its bus service. If one of the world’s busiest cities can co-ordinate a public-private partnership of this magnitude, there is no reason smaller cities can’t do the same. The key is to create the right incentives and institutions. The current model of treating transit as a welfare service has failed. It is time to make transit the first choice for commuters, not the last.

William Perry
Community member