Out of Control Policy Blog

Public Transit Association Report Transit is a Bad Deal

The American Public Transit Association released a statement saying "According to the 2009 Urban Mobility Report, public transportation saved 646 million hours in travel time and 398 million gallons of fuel.  Without public transportation, the report states that congestion costs would have risen 16 percent to an additional $13.7 billion since 2005."

Well, since total transit spending is $44.3 billion per year, this means we are spending $3.23 for every $1.00 purportedly saved from congestion costs by transit. What a deal!!  A few more "values" like that and we will be flat broke.

Adrian Moore is Vice President, Policy

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Comments to "Public Transit Association Report Transit is a Bad Deal":

Against the Grain | July 16, 2009, 8:48pm | #

Very good point. I was think the same thing, but I do give credit to the transit users that pay 11 billion in fares. This triffle only makes the situation a very little better, and your point of the huge loss based on transit spending needs to be addressed.

As well, do not be surprised to find that waste related to auto's reported by TTI does not account for the cost to remedy the congestion.

Attempting to apply the Mike Munger (Duke poly sci chair) method. The waste actually is the cost of congestion minus the cost of remedy. Don't look for the highway lobby and their researchers to acknowledge that soon either.

Dennis | July 17, 2009, 8:01pm | #

What happened to the "reason" in this argument?

Your point would be valid if reducing congestion was the only point of providing transit service.

But it is not.

I am sure you are aware of other benefits of transit and simply ignored them to bolster your spurious argument, but just in case, I'll remind you of a few:

What about:
- the economic and social benefit of 650 million reduced travel hours?

- the economic benefit of providing transportation that allows people to get and maintain a job, and pay taxes?

- the value of being able to spend the cost of 400 milion gallons of gas on other items?

- the environmental benefits of not burning 400 million gallons of gasoline?

Jim | July 23, 2009, 10:22am | #

Obviously, those factors are included in the calculations. The "value of being able to spend the cost of 400 million gallons of gas" is the cost of 400 million gallons of gas. The economic and social benefits are at least estimated by using estimates of people's value of time. I don't know if the environmental impact was addressed in the study, so there you have a legitimate point if it was not.
At any rate, the point is that demand control--via congestion pricing--is more effective than providing alternatives.

Dennis | July 23, 2009, 10:02pm | #


I do not disagree at all with your conclusion about congestion pricing - but that was your point, not Mr. Moore's. His was to make an over-simplistic and inaccurate argument about the cost of congestion by simply dividing the savings into the TOTAL cost of transit.
Your point about the other calculations give undue credit where none is due - those points are about the study calculations - not Mr. Moore's.


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