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« Stewards of the Planet | Main | Time to Stick a Fork in Conservatism, it's Done »

Time to cut the F & E lines

Just had this published in The American Thinker which you can find here or you can just keep reading…

One of the biggest gold rushes of our time looks to be the anticipated market for autonomous (self-driving) vehicles.  Worldwide there are companies and investors throwing billions at the market and what was predicted to happen in 10 years now looks like 2 at most.

The ways autonomous vehicles will impact our daily lives are just now being contemplated but one impact is clear, they have the ability to completely change how we view public transportation, all for the better.

We need to rid ourselves of a bus and rail-based paradigm for public transportation.  A complete stop should be placed on all new activities for a couple of years until the full impact of autonomous vehicles can be ascertained.

Because with autonomous vehicles we can have true public transportation; a self-driving vehicle which comes directly to your home and takes you where you need to go.  For those using present public transportation, think about it.  No more need to get to the bus or rail stop, often this alone requires you have a car; to say nothing of the personal hours saved by going directly where you want, when you want. 

The vehicle, and who knows it may be more of a covered reclined electric motorcycle than a “normal” 4 wheeled car, shows up when requested, where requested.

It deducts the trip from some sort of per-paid or credit card and off you go.  If you have more folks or need more room you simply request a larger vehicle.  And all these charges can be adjusted to the user’s income, thus ensuring the poor have full access. 

There is not a single public transportation operation in the country which charges users the full cost of the service.  Thus subsidies and taxes are already built in, let’s just quit paying for polluting, often empty buses and rail cars and instead use the funds to let the marketplace meet the needs of people; people who are guaranteed to have money in their hands to spend for whoever can provide the most value for the buck.  For the poor this has the ability to transform their lives.  No more 2 hour one-way rides to work!

Prices can be set via the marketplace with subsidies and perhaps usage limitations based on personal income.  The poorest get a monthly 30 round-trips for the maximum subsidy, with lower subsidies as incomes increase.  It can be accomplished relatively easily.

Each vehicle could come with internal advertising or not – to be determined by the user with the appropriate fare adjustment.  This will only further reduce the cost of operations.

Here in Colorado we have the Regional Transportation District (RTD).  It covers the Denver metropolitan area with bus and rail with limited bus service farther out.  Its annual budget is just under a half billion dollars and it employees almost 3,000.   

That is a lot of money that could easily be used to fund a market-driven true public transportation system.  RTD, like many cities across the country, continues to expand on an expensive and polluting bus and rail-based system of yesterday, to say nothing of offering quite limited public service and convenience to those forced to use it.  The only schedule users of this new public transportation system will need is when do they want to be picked up.

Across the country it is time to stop new spending on the F & E lines and all the rest and to prepare for a golden age of public transportation, all driven by… well, nobody.

John Conlin is an expert in organizational design and change.  He is also President and founder of E.I.C. Enterprises, www.EICEnterprises.org, a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to spreading the truth here and around the world primarily through K-12 education.  We leave the Truth to God ;-)


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