Washington, D.C. Government Attacks Cheap Buses, Environment

by Hans Bader on July 7, 2008 · 3 comments

Washington, D.C. recently tried to put cheap private buses out of business, by preventing them from picking up passengers anywhere but the inconvenient, forbidding location of L’Enfant Plaza.  (Currently, the cheap buses stop at many places in the city to pick up passengers).  If the D.C. government tries again and succeeds, the result will be more automobile use by people unable to get picked up by buses — resulting in more air pollution, more gas consumption, and higher gas prices.

France may be a socialist, union-dominated country, but even it is less socialistic and hostile to cheap private transportation alternatives than the corrupt and incompetent Washington, D.C. Government.  When I visit my relatives in Southern France, I can take a private bus all the way from the city of Nice to my wife’s parents’ home a dozen miles away for about $1.  The local government allows the private bus companies to stop at places convenient to pedestrians and tourists.

By contrast, subway and public transit systems in the U.S. are largely government-operated, and thus run in a way that serves the interests of their employees and vendors, not their customers.  As a result, most subway systems cost much more to operate now than they did a couple decades ago, while providing transportion to a shrinking segment of the public.  But their unionized employees benefit at public expense: they can often retire years before private sector employees, with pensions many times larger than private sector employees typically receive.  And subway train operators sometimes make well over $100,000 per year.  (Public sector employees tend to be better paid than private sector employees, and to receive much better retirement benefits).

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