This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.
Today there was a discussion on Seattle Transit Blog about the benefits and drawbacks of cutting off bus service from the south to downtown Seattle and instead shuffling everyone onto LINK trains. The core of the argument is cost savings vs. speed, and considering KC Metro is going through major cuts it’s time for unpleasant conversations about where and how we’re going to degrade service. The huge savings involved is what makes this particular cut attractive.
That discussion is interesting, but isn’t what caught my eye. One compromise solution was to use some of the money saved and keep or add express buses to downtown. But if the express bus was faster, what would get people to take the non-express to a slow transfer to the train? The way we do things now we’d use capacity to limit supply – once more people can’t cram on the express bus, they’ll wait for th local. But that’s not the logical market approach – we’re leaving money on the table. We could be limiting supply using fares. Bump up express service a few dollars, and we not only increase revenue but we also sort out the issue of limited capacity on express buses.
Commuters that need to get to work quickly will pay the extra money. More cost sensitive riders will take a bit more time to get around. And let’s not just do this for south-end routes, but for routes throughout the region. This will free up capacity on express routes, and we can use the added revenue to keep more service overall.