Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Can we afford free public transit?

People frequently ask us, "how would you pay for free public transit?" Here is our reply: currently the price of oil is artificially low because many of the costs are externalized. Here is an example of an externalized cost:
"In many villages in the vicinity of the oil facilities, locals are not able to drink the water anymore," said Stieglitz. "Locals who drink this kind of water can get diarrhea and the subsequent dehydration of the body, which might lead to death in those areas if left untreated." read the whole article on Voice of America
If public transit were free, then demand for oil would drop precipitously. The oil suppliers would lose political power, and public policy could force them to internalize their costs. Clean drinking water would be just one of the many benefits of free public transit and would more than justify the investment.

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