Microtransit Offers Small Returns

Public goods are complicated because in the quest for profit, there is a lack of interest in what could be considered the “common good.” Environmentalists often fight this battle because natural resources are seen as commodities rather than necessities. However, transit advocates often push for recognition of public transit as a necessity because there are many who depend on it. Unfortunately, until government entities allow that transit is not just an option for much of the population, there will be less and less investment.

Taxis have been around for a while, and are currently facing competition from rideshares in different forms. To add insult to injury, many private entities — and some public — are trying to launch what is called microtransit, which involves vans picking people up rather than cars. All of these attempts to flood the market with “transit options” are that same: smaller vehicles taking fewer people to fewer places. In the long run, they are no different from emulating the wealthy who choose to have chauffeurs. Adding vehicles to the road is not more efficient, but using already available buses that are already funded by tax dollars is efficient.

One must also consider the timing of the rise of the personal vehicle. Yes, industrialization made owning a car less expensive and more people were able to acquire them. On the other hand, car ownership rose during the rise of the suburbs and the desegregation of buses. The transit in New York City is not only a beautiful example of transit, but an example of what can happen when everyone agrees to one premise: anyone rides the bus with whomever is on the bus. There are business owners and busboys, investors and empty nesters, and they all understand that transportation is required for existence in society. While not every city could or should aspire to the extensive system in New York, local entities could work to promote the understanding that fewer cars on the road is equal to less traffic and less stress. Microtransit is another method of sneaking racial and socioeconomic segregation into the fabric of thriving cities.


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