Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New York Bus System

I have been working on the stupidity of urban transit systems, and their occasional successes, for some time.

New York's new "Select" system? It goes down on the "stupid" side of the ledger.

A general description.

And the actions of a new bus Gestapo.

"I'm from the government, and I'm here to .... arrest you! For being confused."


Jay said...

Maybe they can use the fines to fund body scanners for the busses.

Chris said...

I, for one, am benefiting greatly from this new service. I use it every day, twice a day, as part of my commute.
The rant from the American Thinker article is, from my experience, the exception. Most everyone is quickly learning the new ways, and for those that don't know yet, there are almost always other riders willing to help (New York, despite its reputation, is one of the most helpful cities I've ever been to). Further, those who are indifferent between the local and select buses are, I would guess, a large minority. How far would you have to be going to be indifferent between stopping once every ten blocks (select service) versus once every other block (local service)? My guess is less than 20 blocks. That's nothing for an average NYC bus commute (again, I am guessing).

Finally, I know you like to rant against the government as being inefficient relative to private sector, but in this case how is a change in service, which probably is going to be unnoticable after a few months of learning by the users, any different than when a private company makes significant changes to its products? If the new product is, on net, better, then the consumer will adapt. Private businesses don't respond to every consumer complaint; when your favorite running shoe gets a makeover, the company is not going to reissue the old one because you wrote a critique of the new shoe in a newspaper. The fact that NYC continues with the select service busses despite the complaint in the American Thinker article is not the least bit conclusive evidence that they are not responsive to market signals.

In this case, I think it is way too soon to declare the select service bus a failure of government due to a lack of market signals.

(No, I am not from the government and here to help you. I just think it is way too soon to evaluate the new system. And I think sometimes we overstate private enterprise's response to "market signals", especially when our example of market signals is someone's complaining editorial.)

Mungowitz said...

That's useful, Chris, thanks!

By ranting, I often learn the truth...but only if people will step up and give the information.

Tom said...

Whatever the merits of the select bus system in general, the stink of government monopoly power is rank in the instance reported. Imagine, if you will, some private provider who can trick you into coming into possession of his product and then will not allow you to let go of it and rejects attempts to pay. This is theft?!??

The arrogance of government is unbounded.