Thursday, 5 February 2009

Should Tranist Be Profitable ?

Interesting chatter going on about the question "should transit be profitable" and what, exactly does profitable mean for a city's transit system.

Kicking it off was NY blogger Cap'n Transit who feels transit should charge what it needs to break even and damn the consequences - cut lines, service etc. until you reach that sweet spot. The Transport Politic refutes CT's idea of what 'profitable' means.

NY was in the unenviable position of having a budget crunch even before the economic downturn. As a result, the idea of additional transit subsidies are getting a cold shoulder from city hall who, in turn, are expressing unhappiness with proposed raises in transit fares, subway rides and additional tolls created by the MTA.

Closer to home, transit has become the belle of the ball of late. The Feds have lavished billions of cost shared dollars that could be put toward transit. Recent strikes and near-strike experiences have caused some to call for transit being declared an essential service.

Some other transit tidbits:

- According to the The Federation of Canadian Municipalities there is a $23b shortfall in transit infrastructure nationally.

- In Manitoba there are four transit systems: Winnipeg, Brandon, Thompson and Flin Flon. The next to get on board will be Selkirk.

- For existing transit services in Manitoba the province picks up 50% of the operating deficit.

- Historically, there have been 5 municipal transit systems outside of Winnipeg since 1917.


Colinman said...

Look the idea that transit should be profitable only holds water if cars should be run on a for profit basis. That means we spend money for roads and bridges at the same proportion that transit uses them.
That means either a huge increase for transit or many, many toll roads.
This whole debate fails to recognize that when I or anyone get into our car it is a SUBSUDIZED form of transportation. The government, through my taxes, pays for the roads, the clearing the safety enforcement and the other auxillery cost associated (which may or may not include middleeastern wars depending on your point of view)
So this self rightous postuering that insiuates that public transit is welfare or that personal tranport is a freemarket act of self sufficiency is simply welfare for the wealthy.

mrchristian said...

Great points- thanks for posting !