This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.
In my post on Baumol’s Cost Disease and transit, I laid out four options for how transit will have to adapt over time:
- Buses need to get bigger and carry more people per driver (i.e. turn into trains)
- Fares have to continue to go up faster than the rate of inflation
- Public subsidy has to rise, also faster than the rate of inflation
- Buses need to get faster – do the same route in less time (while not losing any passengers)
I neglected to mention a fifth possibility (related to the first): automated trains like the ones in SeaTac Airport or Vancouver’s SkyTrain. This is a perfect Baumol-style productivity upgrade for a transit system to keep pace with rising living costs.