BART (Conservative) Pricing

East Bay Conservative disagrees with my take on the new BART pricing proposal. I commented on EBC in response to the original post, but have been unable to do so again. You'll have to read that post and the subsequent comments for this to make sense, but the following is my response:

Jim M - We don't expect a flight to Paris to cost the same as one to Las Vegas. Why should we expect a ride to Pittsburg to cost the same as one to Lafayette?

Mark Ross makes some good points, correcting my term "market-oriented pricing" with the better "opportunity pricing." And of course he's right on BART's fare problem. But this is a problem with every transit agency and with state highway and federal freeway spending as well. But the losses he writes about are not fixed or constant; It is not like they lose $.75 (or some such amount) on each additional rider.

A large, capital-intensive transit agency like BART has a lot of fixed costs, but the marginal cost of adding another car onto an existing train is fairly negligible. And so it would be a good idea for BART to charge a bit less and run longer trains during off-peak hours, if the resulting higher revenue from fares was greater than the increased operating costs.

In the original post EBC laments BART discouraging use of public transit by increasing peak-hour fares. And I agree, this is not something BART should do. Instead it should raise fares at peak-hours just enough to push those more price-sensitive riders onto slightly earlier or later trains to better spread out the peak and maximize ridership. BART is approaching capacity during peak hours and, apart from some huge capital investments, will have trouble meeting the additional demand that rising gas prices, increasing population, more road congestion, and attention to greener lifestyles will bring.

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