Fare increases, budgets, and trains–oh, my!

It’s inevitable that fare increases like the one announced in New York City are somewhat inevitable–sales tax proceeds often feed transit and, certainly in Austin and elsewhere, those tax proceeds are down because people are spending less money.   I think that the ultimate goal of transit systems should  be to remove any and all barriers to access–including high fares, confusing routes and signage, etc.  So, to the extent that these fare increases in New York are needed now, that’s fine, but I really hope we can begin to move forward nationally and on a system-by-system basis to talk about a way of financing transit that doesn’t involve regular fare increases. If we do, I think we should also continue the conversation about costs associated with driving that go beyond tolls.

This is also an encouraging development: a major investment in new transit infrastructure in the Bay Area.  Naysayers always look at transit price tags like this and get very hot and bothered.  My feeling is that the math works out in transit’s favor in the long run for a variety of reasons, including the costs of major road/freeway construction and maintenance, impacts on the environment, loss of productivity associated with traffic congestion, etc.

Here’s another interest twist on the Bay Area story: To handle the greater demand, BART is intent on reducing the time a train is stopped at a station. One way to do that would be to add a third door to each side of the train to make boarding and unloading easier.”  I like that–I am frequently frustrated when buses stay stopped until every last rider has settled their fare issues.  If you can hold waiting passengers on the bus, I think it should keep going.   Buses stop enough as it is.

Here’s an interesting  brainstorm for high-speed rail, extending the environmental benefits of transit.


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