Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Free riders

Felix Salmon supports Mayor Bloomberg's proposal to eliminate fares on some New York city bus routes. This has some advantages as collecting fares is expensive but there is a downside in that fares serve to screen out undesirable riders. This paper (pdf file) concluded:

Based upon the findings of this synthesis, it is concluded that a fare-free policy might be appropriate for smaller transit systems in certain communities, but is ill-advised for larger transit systems in major urban areas because experience shows that in larger systems, a tremendous amount of criminal activity, as well as a sharp increase in ridership, caused higher maintenance costs, labor costs, and operational costs and drove away existing riders.

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