Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Metropolitan mass transit systems run buses and light rail trains. There’s not much evidence they do it well.

But boy, do they know how to spend money!

Now that the economy has hit the skids, tax revenues are down and metro boards across the country are hurting for money. King County, in Washington State, is no exception. The Metro system there has a multimillion dollar shortfall in funds, and the board threatens to cut services by 17 percent unless more revenue gets raised.

The Metro board suggests a tax hike — what they call a “congestion tax” — on cars.

Tim Eyman, the Evergreen State’s number one tax-hike watchdog, argues that the voters should get to decide whether to increase taxes to fund existing levels of bus service.

Great idea. Consent of the governed and all.

It’s amusing to read accounts of the debate over the proposed tax. Once again, we hear stories of bus after bus running without being anywhere near full.

If metro buses were my business, I’d want to make sure it ran in the black.

But with government, alas — relying on taxes for continuous bailout — that’s not even within the bounds of polite discussion.

And while it might make sense to run some buses on a fixed, reliable schedule, other buses could be supplied to commuters “as needed.” With modern technology this is eminently doable.

But first, let citizens decide how much money they really want to throw at the system.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


  1. Bill says:

    What is the rationale for the public sector supplying bus service?

  2. Drik says:

    Mass transit is predicated on the idea that the people paying for it will not be the ones using it.

    Mass transit charges between 10 and 20 cents miled for a ride.

    A private automobile costs double that to operate.

    The actual cost to operate mass transit runs upward of 50 cents a mile.

    If all the people that actually paid for mass transit tried to actually use it, the system would be unfunctional and it would take all day to get on because of the mass of people in line.

    Mass transit is redistribution of wealth in a way that makes cities less unaffordable by spreading the cost onto the surrounding populace who don’t use it.

  3. bruce stark says:

    I recall Tom Johnson, Mayor of Cleveland and street railway tycoon, who proposed free public transportation with the rationale that elevators in public building were free.

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