Letters to the Editor

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TRANSIT: Contracting out could improve service

Letter by Michael H. Wilson, Olympia on Oct. 3, 2011 at 5:04 pm | 8 Comments »
October 4, 2011 9:50 am

As a libertarian and someone who promotes open markets, it is shameful that management at Pierce Transit cannot find any alternative except to cut services, thus leaving low-income people without adequate transportation.

There are plenty of real-world examples that should be considered first, such as opening the market to private companies. According to the Feb. 6, 1915 edition of the Electric Railway Journal, there were 518 private jitney buses operating in Seattle carrying 49,000 passengers daily. Unfortunately the government regulated them out of business.

Atlantic City, N.J., has the oldest privately operating, unsubsidized transit service in the nation. The Atlantic City jitney buses, which hold 13 passengers each, operate around the clock at fares comparable to Piece Transit’s.

Contracting out the service may be a better option for the public than what is now in place. Denver has contracted out about half of its transit services to private operators and saved money. Many European cities – such Stockholm, Helsinki and Copenhagen – have contracted out their urban transit to private companies and have seen improved services along with reduced costs.

The examples are out there. Management just has to be open to new ideas.

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