Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Why can't autosprawl operate as a business?

... Many rural lawmakers would happily see urban transit systems dry up and blow away. The common cry from the transit doubters is the same today as it's always been: Why can't the MTA operate as a business?

The problem with this thinking is that it recognizes the costs of transit services but not their value. The MTA's fare box recovery rate may be hovering around 30 percent, but that doesn't mean it's inefficient. Roads are heavily subsidized by tax dollars, too, as is every form of transportation, yet nobody talks of the state highway or airport "business model."

Transit connects people to jobs and gets them off government subsidies. It reduces traffic congestion and the need to build massively expensive new highways. It uses energy more efficiently, causes fewer pollutants to be spewed into the environment and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Why spend taxpayers' money on transit? Ultimately, for only one reason: because it's in their interests.

If the MTA can be more efficient, we're all for it. Still, the question the MTA ought to be asking itself is this: What can we do to attract more customers?... BaltimoreSun

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