Is public transport doomed?

In today’s Age, Alan Moran takes issue with my idea that we should price roads and use credits to fund public transport. He writes:

In his article (Business, 7/3), Joshua Gans suggested an approach involving road pricing and making public transport free, for which he accepts an estimate of costs at $340 million a year.

He believes these two policies could considerably relieve congestion. It might well make sense to charge more accurately for the costs of the road space used at the time of that use. This is notwithstanding that people already pay twice as much in fuel and registration taxes as governments spend on roads.

Basically, he doesn’t see a need to favour public transport as many (including myself) have been suggesting. It is hard to say. It is theoretically possible that the car is actually optimal. Equally, it is theoretically possible that we should ban cars altogether. The truth is in the middle but something worth searching for.

Personally I think hybrid systems of the sort we saw in Minority Report are likely to be the best. But now that is just fiction …

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