Monday, November 29, 2010

User fees matter

Plastic bags:
Charging for plastic bags cut bag consumption by half in China: "ScienceDaily (Nov. 28, 2010) — Research from the University of Gothenburg (Sweden) shows that people in China -- the number one consumers of plastic bags in the world -- reduced their consumption of plastic bags by half when stores were forced to charge consumers for the bags."
The cigarette companies have opposed tobacco tax increases by arguing that raising cigarette prices would not reduce adult or youth smoking. But the companies’ internal documents, disclosed in the tobacco lawsuits, show that they know very well that raising cigarette prices is one of the most effective ways to prevent and reduce smoking, especially among kids.
Public transit: Read our blog and website for numerous examples of how removing the user fee from public transit lowers the unit cost of this public investment and vastly increases the ROI.


Bob Davis said...

There's a Southern California-oriented website called the Bus Bench, which posted an item about how of the thousands of employees of the LA Metro system, less than 5% use Metro buses and/or trains, and they get free transit passes as a "fringe benefit". Granted, some of the bus and train operators have to report to their jobs at O-dark-30, when few buses and trains are running, but it still leaves a lot of workers who pay to drive rather than use their passes.

fpteditors said...

Bob, Your example shows that people are trapped in the auto system. Any particular cross-section, transit employees, for example, might not respond. But there is always a number of people who are close to using public transit, and the user fee is a significant barrier. For example: BEIJING, China — State media say authorities have cancelled a plan to provide free public transportation in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou less than one week after it came into effect ahead of the Asian Games, saying the massive response had overwhelmed the system.