To Ease Gas Pains, Liberalize Transit Laws

Oregon public servants take note. You can help state residents, hard hit by rising fuel prices, by opening up transit markets. Repeal counterproductive transit regulations and you allow entrepreneurs to create jobs. Liberalize transit markets and riders (and current drivers) will enjoy more options, which can help ease congestion. Finally, private providers in liberalized transit markets do not need tax subsidies.

Liberal markets allow entrepreneurs to come forth. This is as true of transit as it is with computers. Several years ago, the Port of Portland decided to stay out of the way of airport towncars. In the first few months of this liberal policy, towncar companies serving the public jumped from 6 to 28.

(Unfortunately, instead of devising a way for said competitive market to continue, the Port opted to squelch choice to the detriment of consumers. Consumers would have been the winners had the Port adopted the ideas offered in Curb Rights — to oversimplify, envision curbside “landing rights” for transit providers.)

In Atlantic City, private jitneys ply the streets, providing transit service for a fare in the neighborhood of $1.75 per ride. As the Atlantic City Jitney Association website states, started in 1915, “It is the longest running non-subsidized transit company in America”¦. Currently there are 190 individually owned and operated units which run reliably 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.” No tax subsidies, and operating round the clock, round the calendar — name a government transit system in Oregon that can make those claims.

Instead of expensive, tax-subsidized government transit services, public servants should take the simple route. They can easily clear away the legal and regulatory underbrush that blocks the private provision of transit services. Oregonians are smart enough to figure out how to get people even more people from Point A to B — and back.