Friday, November 1, 2019

We are being misled on how public transit is funded

The oil industry and sprawl profiteers would like us to think that fares are an indispensable part of funding public transit. For this reason, fares are reported as a percentage of operating costs. Capital costs, usually equal or greater than operating costs, are not included.

So if they are saying "fares provide 20% of the cost of public transit" it is more likely that the true number is 10%.

Another myth is that small system can afford removing fares while big systems cannot. Actually the opposite is true. For small systems, the fixed costs are a higher percentage of totals costs. So the per rider cost is higher. By removing fares, small systems hope to increase usage and thereby lower the cost-per-rider. This would work even better for large systems because the marginal cost of adding a rider is smaller.

The biggest lie of all is the framing of public transit funding. It is treated as an accounting of one department of government. The costs of the other departments are not considered. What if removing fares in the transit department lowered the costs of the the parking department for example. This type of thing is kept out of the framing.