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  #21  
Old Posted Sep 10, 2019, 6:35 PM
plutonicpanda plutonicpanda is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RCDC View Post
Your strawman is a logical fallacy so perhaps you don't know what "educated debate" is.
Yeah, coming from someone who has to use personal attacks in order to make a point...

I will look elsewhere for an educated debate or what 'I' think it is.
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  #22  
Old Posted Sep 11, 2019, 2:08 AM
lrt's friend lrt's friend is offline
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Originally Posted by llamaorama View Post
I question the notion that making things free always makes people appreciate them less as a rule. If something is sold as a service, then users become customers and develop a customer's sense of entitlement. If something is relatively inexpensive, as mass transit would have to be, people will see it as disposable. Look at how people behave at McDonalds or how they treat motel rooms. If something is provided as a free service people may just as well recognize it as a civic good and it think of it as something that brings pride.

In any case there are practical reasons for this.

Kansas City has very low transit ridership mostly due to its geography. The system already requires a huge subsidy and farebox recovery is probably almost nil if I had to guess? Fare collection itself is an expense. I suspect most of its riders are too poor to own a car and qualify for some kind of reduced price fare already. The alternative, raising fares to expand service, would probably not work because city's geography makes transit inconvenient. The people who rely on transit as an affordable alternative to car ownership would not be able to pay.

Making transit free accomplishes four things. One, it makes transit more useful to the people who rely on it the most(the poor). Two, I think being absolutely free would lure in some choice riders who might otherwise take an uber or something and are brave enough to try the bus instead, but only if they can hop on without stressing over the vagaries of needing to buy a transit card or pass or download an app and charge it with fares. Thirdly, it by most likely increasing ridership, it will increase political support of the system. Four, by increasing transit ridership, it benefits the environment, benefits central neighborhoods, and will cut down on the costs of things like parking and roads downtown. Things like a downtown courthouse parking garage for jury duty folks or allocating cops to work traffic patrol are going to be surprisingly nontrivial costs to taxpayers.
Free transit may increase ridership somewhat but is unlikely to encourage improvements in service, which really is needed to generate more significant higher ridership and get us past the idea that transit is a welfare program for the poor.

The bolded statement makes a point that no transit system wants.
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  #23  
Old Posted Sep 11, 2019, 2:48 AM
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Nouvellecosse Nouvellecosse is offline
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Keep in mind that when transit operators charge a fare, since nearly all operators in NA have a low farebox recovery ratio that fare isn't an incentive to increase ridership because you're still losing money on each new rider and require greater subsidies from governments. Now obviously it isn't automatic that every new rider increases costs. A new rider that helps fill a half empty bus makes the route more financially sustainable while a new rider that pushes a service over the capacity threshold forcing them to add more vehicle trips or larger vehicles is a hugely expensive rider. But on average, if the system has a 50% farebox recovery ratio, each new rider costs the agency/government the amount that the person is paying.

The incentive in either case has to be that it's a not-for-profit enterprise providing a public service and that administration of the agency are tasked with specific goals and targets for which they are accountable to the public and public officials for meeting.
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  #24  
Old Posted Sep 11, 2019, 3:01 AM
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Nouvellecosse Nouvellecosse is offline
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I agree that there's a possibility that people may value the service less if it's free. But at the same time, it's already dirt cheap in many places so the effect probably wouldn't be that huge relative to the benefits. The bigger issues are first that it would be harder to prevent the homeless from using it as a mobile shelter basically riding around all day to keep warm. Second is that fares are a more stable funding source in the sense that some governments can be erratic with funding with one deciding to be very generous causing the agency to expand service and develop all sorts of plans, and then the government could suddenly decide it needs to reign in costs and slash funding, or a new gov could be elected that's anti-transit.

If the agency doesn't have any ability to independently obtain revenue, it's screwed. The only way around that would be when setting up the free service the gov would create a sort of long term funding account where the agency has at least 10-15 years worth of funding secured and can make decisions over the long term on how to manage it, increasing or decreasing expenditures slightly every year or even quarterly based on how quickly it's exhausting the account..
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