Consequences of public ownership and subsidies for mass transit: Evidence from case studies and regression analysis
- Cite this article as:
- Pucher, J. & Markstedt, A. Transportation (1983) 11: 323. doi:10.1007/BF00150722
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The trend toward public ownership, public regulation, and public subsidization of the U.S. transit industry has recently come under attack. Many argue that the result has been reduced productivity, increased costs, and very little real benefit. This article examines the impacts of subsidies and public ownership in four large transit systems that cover a range of transit system types and financing arrangements. Evidence from the case studies is compared to the results of both time-series and cross-section regression analysis of operating and financial statistics for large samples of bus systems. Although the case studies and the regressions rely on different datasets and different techniques, they support the same conclusions. Increased subsidies and public ownership have kept down fares and permitted service expansion, but have also encouraged wasteful cost escalation. Thus, transit riders unquestionably have benefited from public takeovers of transit systems and burgeoning subsidies, but not nearly as much as they would have benefited if costs had not skyrocketed at the same time.