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December 18, 2005


You say nothing of the reasons for the industrial action.

Why the strike?

I'm not sure that it much matters what the reasons for the strike are. The real problem is the (usually) monopolistic nature of public transit--that's what creates the inefficiency. The strike is simply taking advantage of the situation


With respect, your reply sounds more like a political Pavlov reaction rather than reasoned response.

Auckland has essentially four major "competing" bus companies, and one rail provider.

The buses are frequent but inefficient as they are still (to a large extent) running routes that were "designed" 50 years ago on the premise that everyone wanted to go to the CBD rather than from dormitory to suburban industrial areas. OK. That is an over-simplification I know but it is essentially true.

The most efficient solution by far would be rapid light rail.

How do we encourage the entry of more and competing rail providers under your open market system?

"The real problem is the (usually) monopolistic nature of public transit--that's what creates the inefficiency."

Yeah, that's what I meant.

And the reason for the strike is simple, the union wants more for themselves, which is what everyone wants.

I find it hard to believe that there are four bus lines competing and that they haven't done anything to differentiate themselves. Are they profitable? Are they partially subsidized or something?
As for light rail, you're making the assumption that light rail would be competitive and profitable. That may or may not be true, depending upon the circumstances and the transportation alternatives available, even under an open market system. Passenger rail service was essentially killed in the U.S. due to regulation and the subsidized road system. If you really want to encourage light rail, the first thing to do is see what regulations or other obstructions may be preventing it from occurring, and what realistic and cost-effective alternatives exist that it would be competing against, including, of course, *subsidized* alternatives, which puts alternatives at a disadvantage. Then you'll have a better idea how feasible light rail really is.
Of course, you could simply get the local government to subsidize light rail, but the result would probably be inefficient like Amtrak--you'd have light rail, but would probably be unhappy with its service, just as you're unhappy with the buses.

Michael, you surprise me!!

Here was I, imagineing that you would have some simple, workable capitalist solution that would solve the problem here in Auckland (and perhaps NY as well - who knows?) and all I have is a rehash of the current practices that you complain of and about...

Yes, public transport in Auckland is subsidised. Some quite heavily. Do I blame that subsidy for its inefficiency? Yes, sometimes I do. All the time? No. There are many causes of the inefficiency. One thing is certain, it is not the guys who drive the buses and trains who are the cause of that.

The news today has a very good run down on the strike. Do I agree with it? Hmmm, in parts perhaps. In large parts a resounding NO!

Of course there's a simple solution, but it's not the one you want (Jedi mind trick). Therefore, why rehash it, unless I can provide a new perspective on it?

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