Interesting that the Sfgate.com poll running along with the Matier and Ross item on transit agency deficits only cites four possible solutions: Cut service, cut employee pay, raise fares or "get in the bailout line." I realize that the Bay Area's transit agencies don't always work well together and duplicate some service, and that some managers are overpaid, and some money is wasted on consulting contracts. But I also know that in a recession, the price elasticity of demand for transit (warning -- deadly report) is pretty high. That means when you raise prices, fewer people ride -- and at a certain point, you wind up losing money by hiking fares.
And I also know that transit systems are one of those government services that, like schools, almost always get better when you throw more money at them.
We have been systematically underfunding public transit in this state and this country for decades -- and now we're surprised that the agencies are running out of money? Of course, the Sfgate readers all want to cut employee pay -- that's an easy scapegoat -- but I wonder what would happen if the poll included "raise gas taxes and parking fees to fund fast, clean, efficient public transit." I know what I'd vote for.
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