But without government who would run the bus system?

“But without government, who would run the buses?”

This is another rhetorical question I get a lot, usually at the bus stop while waiting for mine to arrive 5-10 minutes after it’s supposed to. I work in the International District in Seattle, and as part of my commute I take the Metro or Sound Transit every day.

Incidentally, every day I see the fundamental difference between private and government-run bus lines.

Yesterday, the Seattle Times reported that King County is asking voters to approve new taxes and fees to pay for the bus system. Either that, or the price per ticket goes up. Currently, it is $2.50 for Sound Transit and $3 for Metro.

Remember, this is a government-run bus system. Asking voters to approve new taxes to pay for it means it isn’t making a profit to pay for itself. It’s operating costs are greater than the revenue it generates.

One has to wonder if there is something wrong with the business model that needs to be tweaked. Perhaps they are spending money on things that are not necessary.

I once remarked that the solution is for the bus line to be privatized. A person responded that if this happened buses would only cater to the rich and the poor would have nothing.

Strange. Cell phones, TVs, DVDs, cars and countless other products are privately owned and sold by private companies. Yet the poor don’t seem to have a problem purchasing them.

To add to that, everyday I go down 5th Avenue I walk past a group of people waiting for the Bolt Bus, which is privately owned. Bolt buses have routes going from Seattle to Portland and Vancouver, B.C. The price per ticket? Depends on when and how you order it, but I found a ticket to Portland for $11. The trip is 170 miles. A trip from Seattle to where I live is around 20 miles. The cost is either $2.50 or $3.

Or, compare it to Amtrak, which is also run by the government. A ticket from Seattle to Portland is, at the cheapest, $24.

Not surprisingly, Bolt Bus has won over a lot of Amtrak’s customers. Unlike Amtrak, it cannot rely on government bailouts, which is what occurs when revenue doesn’t cover the costs of operating and the government must step in to fund it.

This new vote is essentially asking voters to approve additional bailouts of the bus line.

Bolt Bus has a strong incentive to tailor their services for their customers. They have to meet their schedules and arrive on time, or else people won’t use the buses. They also provide it at a price that even the poor can afford.

And, most importantly, they do it without taking money from people without their consent, which is what the county does every time a section of the population approves of taxes to pay for services they may or may not use.

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2 Responses to But without government who would run the bus system?

  1. Pingback: Amtrak to offer free trips for writers | The Anarchist Notebook | Libertarian Anarchy

  2. Pingback: A not-so modest proposition | The Anarchist Notebook | Libertarian Anarchy

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