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Old Posted Jan 22, 2021, 7:37 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: Loop, Chicago
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Originally Posted by electricron View Post
Link that supports your opinion
Average cost to drive a car $11,000 per year
Minimum cost to drive a car $2790 per year (doing the bare minimum)
Average costs for public transit using monthly passes
NYC $1452 per year
LA $1200 per year
Dallas $1080 per year
Indy $706 per year

Off hand, it appears public transit wins easily, even when compared to bare minimum driving expenses. But the public transit data points only include monthly fares. Those monthly fares have a varying amount of farebox recovery ratios, maybe your city is included here

I'm more familiar with DART located in Dallas. The farebox recovery ratio is 14%. Not the highest, but also not the lowest. Subsidies coming from other taxes, either local, state, or federal, make up the difference.
If $1080 per year provides 14% of the cost to provide the service; $7,714 per year is needed to provide the service; therefore an additional $6,634 per year on average comes from taxes.
So in Dallas, the average rider pays $7,714 for public transit, and anywhere from $2,790 to $11,000 per year on driving. Again, there will be some who pay less, and some who will pay more because individual income will determine how new your car is and how much sales taxes you pay.

Of course, we have yet to add the highway costs to maintain and build our highways to the equation. But amongst the costs for driving was the taxes on fuel. Fuel and other highway taxes on average pay 34% of their costs nationally
So, whatever the highway taxes collects, double that amount comes from other taxes.
A different link looks at it a different way, a per capital expenditure from general funds vs highway funds.
Nationally, the average is $560 per year per capita additional tax above and beyond highway taxes. And there are multiple of ways and data points on highway construction and maintenance costs. I have no idea which is the more accurate way to look at it, mainly because it varies so much per state.
Never-the-less, an additional $560 subsidy tacked onto $2790 to $11,000 cost of car ownership is minuscule in comparison to the public transit subsidy on top of the costs of fares.

So the cost of driving and the cost of highways and the cost of public transit is extremely difficult to lock down to specifics. Depending upon where you live and how new your car is, driving can be cheaper or more expensive than taking public transit.
But the important point I wish to make is that those just using the cost of individual fares for public transit is doing a great disservice to the debate. And likewise, those just using the cost of buying and maintaining cars for driving is also doing a great disservice to the debate. Because in both cases, public subsidies are required to build and maintain over and beyond their user taxes, fees, and fares. And I would like to add, in most small cities and towns across America, regular scheduled public transit does not exist.

And I will try once again to repeat the main point of my earlier response, make riding public transit a better experience than riding in your own automobile if you really want to compete with automobiles across the country. As long as the seats are uncomfortable, as long as the vehicles are dirty, as long as the headways are too long, as long as the amount of service is so poor, public transit can not compete.
I agree with your last point, but here's a worked example for my case:

CTA has a 50% farebox recovery requirement (not sure if that's still in place with COVID-19). Also, transit passes can be bought pretax, which helps. The subsidy most often left out is "free" parking. My employer charges $125/month for commuter parking at a campus garage. This is also pretax, but more expensive than a transit pass and only lets you park in one place. (If I owned a car, I'd have to pay $200+/month to garage it somewhere near home, plus insurance, plus the cost of the car...). Yes, it's possible to circle around and find free parking at some distance from campus but there goes the convenience argument.
And here the air that I breathe isn't dead.
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