Transit Advocates Want Billions More in Federal Bailouts
Mass transit advocates are pushing the Biden administration and Congress to pour billions of dollars of new subsidies into bus and train lines. The reason: without even more federal money, transit systems will go bust. The Cato Institute’s Randal O’Toole says they shouldn’t get a dime:
Even before the pandemic, transit was the most inefficient and wasteful form of transportation in the United States, spending more than five times as much to move someone a passenger-mile as the average automobile. Many corporations are using the pandemic as an opportunity to rethink their office structures and whether to allow more people to work at home. In the same way, transit agencies could have used the pandemic to rethink their route structures and focus on the routes that people really use. Instead, they are relying on heavy subsidies to insulate them from any such changes.
At some point, people are going to realize that transit isn’t environmentally friendly; in fact, it is far more destructive than motor vehicles and highways. At some point, people are going to realize that transit doesn’t help poor people out of poverty; in fact, before the pandemic its main customers had above-average incomes. At some point, people are going to realize that, far from taking essential workers to work, transit could disappear tomorrow in most cities and no one would notice. [American Public Transport Association] is counting on the expectation that we haven’t yet reached those points.
If the coronavirus-influenced shift in how and where people work is permanent, with more remote work and far less business travel, then transit systems are among many industries that will have to rethink their missions. Federal handouts assure they won’t take that critical step, instead of needing more and more taxpayer aid to keep their antique business models alive.