Numerous potential opportunities to improve the productivity of urban mass transit can be identified. Many of these possibilities involve relatively small departures from standard industry practices and thus might be relatively quickly implemented. These more readily adopted changes include the use of more express services and bus-priority techniques, deployment of some buses larger and smaller than the standard model, negotiation of changes in split-shift work rules, adoption of computerized scheduling, and tailoring of fares, service quality, and schedules to conform better to transit's distinct markets. Other opportunities for productivity growth are clearly possibilities for implementation only in the more distant future, if at all, since they alter more fundamental and traditional procedures used in the industry. Although these opportunities will take much more time and effort to implement, they may ultimately prove more worthwhile because they address some of the more basic causes of transit's productivity problems. Probably the most important among these long-term possibilities is to find some productive off-peak tasks for employees who are needed as drivers in the peak hours only. A second important long-term change is to discontinue transit service in markets in which it is least competitive with the automobile. The industry's record of decline or relatively slow growth in productivity can not be sustained for long, since the cost of transit would increase in relation to the cost of other goods and services. Failure to implement innovations that improve productivity, like the ones suggested here, will result in some combination of rapid growth in the industry's deficits (and its dependence on public subsidies) and the slow but sure pricing of transit services out of the market. /Author/

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    • This paper appeared in Transportation Research Board Special Report No. 181, Urban Transportation Economics. It contains proceedings of Five Workshops on Pricing Alternatives, Economic Regulations, Labor Issues, Marketing, and Government Financing Responsibilities held by Transportation Research Board. Sponsored by Office of the Secretary, Federal Highway Administration, and Urban Mass Transportation Administration of DOT; Environmental Protection Agency; and Federal Energy Administration. Distribution, posting, or copying of this PDF is strictly prohibited without written permission of the Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials in this PDF are copyrighted by the National Academy of Sciences. Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
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    Transportation Research Board

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  • Authors:
    • Gomez-Ibanez, Jose A
    • Meyer, John R
  • Publication Date: 1978

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  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: References;
  • Pagination: pp 147-156
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  • Accession Number: 00176511
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Nov 14 1981 12:00AM