On the Wrong Track

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I strongly support efficient urban transit systems, but transit officials seem intent on giving people more reasons not to ride transit:

• In Denver, a woman was handcuffed and arrested for refusing to show ID when the bus she was riding to work passed through a federal complex – even though she was not getting off the bus until after it left the complex. The transit agency made no effort to support people’s right to ride its buses without being bullied by intrusive government agents.

• In Atlanta, a man was handcuffed and ticketed for selling a transit token to someone at face value when the ticket machine at that station failed to work. Apparently it is illegal for anyone but the transit agency to sell tokens.

• In New York, transit workers left transit-dependent people stranded when they went on strike. How many auto drivers would be stranded if highway workers went on strike?

• In Washington, D.C., the bus system is “outdated, unreliable, and inefficient,” according to the Washington Post, because the Metro transit agency has neglected it in favor of the rail system. While the rail system is a favorite of tourists, the number of people using it to ride to work has actually declined in the past decade. Like so many other cities that cut bus service to build expensive rail lines – Los Angeles, San Jose, and St. Louis, to name a few – Washington would have been better off improving bus service than building rail.

People respond to these sorts of incentives. Two Denver transit buses were involved in fatal accidents in one day. At the time of the accidents, one of the buses was carrying three passengers, the other one two. Clearly, transit officials there have successfully convinced most people to find other methods of travel.

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