Here's an interesting article which indicates that, for all the hype about how compact cities like Chicago and New York City are "built for transit", the economics simply aren't working out even there. The price of a 30 day transit pass in Gotham may become as high as $121, which is saying something in a city of 470 square miles where you can hardly find a place where you can go more than 25 miles in a direction without leaving the city. Here's an interesting picture of the transit system: in 2012, the total cost was about $9.5 billion, of which about $4 billion was covered by fares and the like, $5.2 billion was from subsidies, and the system had an operating loss of $300 million.
So that $121 monthly pass really costs a total of close to $300, which means that a daily trip of ten miles each way--say to work and back, shopping, etc...has a cost of about 50 cents per mile, or just about identical to the cost of driving. This in the best possible city on the continent for transit, no less. It is also worth noting that if indeed revenues from fares and such are only $4 billion, that in turn means that most New Yorkers (there are 8.5 million of them) are not riding the bus or taking the subway. Keep in mind as well that the MTA is not paying road taxes to keep the roads in good condition, so this is an underestimate of the total cost, and keep in mind as well that most of the infrastructure for the subway system was built and paid for decades ago.
Transit may be necessary in many cities, but suffice it to say that it's in general not a good deal for the taxpayer.
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