Saturday, May 23, 2015

Public Transit & Where Solution Lies

We can quibble about the amount of subsidy transit in British Columbia takes, my understanding is that about 2/3 of the cost is carried by government and 1/3 by users. Whatever it is, it indicates that even with a heavily subsidized transit system people, when given a choice, choose independent transportation. People want the freedom of independent transportation, so even if public transit were free, people would likely choose to pay for independent transport.

The statement above is particularly true of North America and less so in Europe. My Uncle in England lived in the executive belt outside London, he used public transit, as Chairman of the company he had a chauffeur who would pick him up at Baker Street Station where he would start his day. The transit offered him an advantage, by planning his day around the train travel it was faster to use transit than sit in the car and fight with traffic. The efficiency advantage of train travel in this case was in large measure due to high traffic facilitated by a high population density.    

The situation in England contrasts sharply with the situation in small town British Columbia, where population densities are relatively low, so public transit cycle times make transit use inefficient for the individual. So, aside from being stuffed in a bus with a bunch of strangers, one has to wait and waste valuable time in transit as the bus stops here and there. The concept of common transport is flawed because it attacks the inherent preferences of people; people want the fastest way from a to b - when they want to go.

Rather than try and build solution around what we think people “should” do, we should build solution around what people want to do. What is the overarching objective of transit – perhaps to reduce traffic – all though that can be managed for? Most people are desiring to find a way for people to get around absent harm to the environment. Perhaps solution lies in reducing the transport Canada requirements for independent vehicles, in most cases a fast golf cart would suffice, we are driving a 5000 lb SUV. Perhaps we should reduce the age requirement to drive to 12 or 14 on electric bikes and small “cars”. Perhaps the city should invest in free electric carts and cars that are merely left around for people to use and redistributed as required by a small staff.

There are independent travel solutions that are in harmony with the environment; better to put our attention there, than trying to spoon feed everyone something that is clearly demonstrated to be undesirable. 
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