Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wired Magazine - "The logic of free public transit is compelling"

The logic of free public transit is compelling: Despite the high costs and massive subsidies implicit in driving, forking over a relatively small fee to ride a bus or subway is a psychological barrier to getting people out of cars. Even the most efficiently run buses can be crowded and slow, but by running at frequent intervals on dedicated lanes between fixed stops — as the Circulator does — delays can be kept to a minimum. The bus might not stop next to, or even near, every rider’s point of origin or destination, but it ensures a measure of proximity for most riders. Rare indeed is the mass transit system that shoulders its own financial burden, and the free bus systems that last generally have dedicated sources of income aside from direct subsidies. Baltimore’s system is financed by a 16 percent tax on parking, which will raise about $5 million annually.

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