Taxi as the gold standard of transit

Consider the local taxi cab company when looking to measure the effectiveness of all other public transit systems. 

Taxis operate 7/24 and provide convenient, prompt door-to-door service in comfort and safety. Instead of being subsidized by taxpayers, taxi companies are tax cash-cows.

They know their capital cost per passenger mile and operating cost per passenger mile because everything has to be covered by the $3.80 fare for the first mile and $2.25 per mile thereafter. 

  • They stimulate the economy each time they buy a new vehicle.
  • They pay various fees and taxes when they buy a new vehicle.
  • They pay a yearly license fee to operate.
  • They pay sales tax on replacement parts.
  • They pay fuel taxes.
  • They pay property taxes for the garage, office and parking they require.
  • They pay income taxes (as do the drivers), unemployment insurance and social security taxes.
  • The list goes on.

 Light-rail on the other hand offers limited off-peak service, along fixed routes at designated stops only. Passengers must wait, usually outside for the next train and share that space with any number of strangers.

Light-rail is heavily subsidized by federal, state and local taxpayers. A survey of North American light rail projects shows that construction costs of most LRT systems range from $15 million per mile to over $100 million per mile.

As with taxis, the cost effectiveness of buying, operating and maintaining the trains depends on the number of passengers per mile. We should know this before we commit to a forever-tax increase.

<IMHO> Fred Jacobsen

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