Sunday, February 15, 2009

Another call for some form of transit privatization

Don Butler writes a feature in the Citizen that makes several arguments in favour of at least partial privatization of transit service in Ottawa.

Here is a quick breakdown of some of Butler's musings and conclusions about privatization...

- Cheaper to operate on the whole (wages for operators tend to be lower on average, and ceilings are lower and harder to reach)
- Theory that private-system operators are less likely to go on strike than public counterparts (many disagree with this assertion, including Ottawa transit committee chair and councillor Alex Cullen)

- Might fragment Ottawa's integrated transit system, which would lead to rough transition
- More costlier insurance and other costs avoided by public system

That's really just a glimpse into some of the arguments in the story. There are several reasons to take this article very seriously, and will no doubt have more to say about privatization issues in the future.

Especially about Denver. That transit system consistently generates a lot of buzz, including within the above-linked story.

For now, though, we will superficially object to privatization because, well, this website's title would be made instantly obsolete by such a move.


david said...

Don't worry about the title of the blog -- it's still public transit, even if the operation is contracted out to the private sector. The public (thought its elected officials) chooses the routes, approves the schedules, sets the fares, and owns the buses.

Andy said...

Transit for profit means that the private sector is more willing to take money out of the system rather than reinvest for the public good.

Just take a look at the 407 Hwy north of Toronto. It is in private hands and the tolls are ridiculously high.

Ottawa transit is alive and well. Why try to fix something that is not broken?

david said...

Andy: In this case, there's no reinvestment involved either way -- it's a simple fee for service to operate buses that we own on routes that we plan using fares that we've approved.

If it costs Ottawa $80/hour to operate and maintain a bus, and a private company bids $65/hour to do the same thing, then it's a matter of making sure that the private company meets the same safety and service standards -- that's the real challenge. Any new investment is still our (the city's) responsibility.

Dwight Williams said...

If your unspoken intent is that it become broken(by the lights of we the users of the system)...why not?