Posted January 25, 2008 in News • Tags: ,

Finally, some radical thinking on bus and subway fares:

It might sound like pie in the sky– but a new plan unveiled today would not only keep bus and subway fares down, it would eliminate them altogether. It’s an extreme congestion pricing plan that makes Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s look tame.

Not mentioned in the article–or anywhere that I’ve seen–is the cost savings that could be realized by eliminating the massive fare-collection apparatus required by the current system: token booth clerks, the computerized metro card system, card readers. One wonders whether the idea of eliminating fares might actually pay for itself, without the need for the draconian congestion pricing mentioned in the article (which doesn’t have a hope in hell of passing). Which leads to:

However worthy an idea, it seems unlikely New Yorkers will see free subways and buses anytime soon. It’s not even being considered by the Congestion Pricing Commission, which votes next week on a proposal to forward to lawmakers.

Of course no one will take the idea seriously. The Transit Workers Union would become apoplectic. They know that their salaries–like in almost any business–are the largest cost of running the system. And since the city sings to its tune, there’s no eliminating those jobs, let alone getting even modest cuts on the table.

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