Green and Accessible Public Transport

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bjn
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Re: Green and Accessible Public Transport

Post by bjn » Wed Jan 05, 2022 7:29 am

Account for externalities and you might have an argument.

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bjn
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Re: Green and Accessible Public Transport

Post by bjn » Wed Jan 05, 2022 7:31 am

You are also effectively saying public transportation should be means tested.

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nekomatic
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Re: Green and Accessible Public Transport

Post by nekomatic » Wed Jan 05, 2022 8:28 am

Millennie Al wrote:
Wed Jan 05, 2022 1:44 am
I find it very difficult to believe that it is inherently so expensive - that somehow there is no economy of scale from taking several bus passengers together or even a train load.
Well that’s clarified something for me, thanks.
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discovolante
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Re: Green and Accessible Public Transport

Post by discovolante » Wed Jan 05, 2022 8:57 pm

IvanV wrote:
Tue Jan 04, 2022 10:46 am
The second point about culture has a lot of truth in it. But I also worry that when things are handed out for free, the producer of that free service might take less care to provide it in a manner of suitable care and respect and quality, in particular respect for the user's time. In cases where there are both paying and non-paying customers, there can also be a risk that the latter are not treated with the care and respect of the former.

For example, I find that the NHS has limited respect for the value of my time, in comparison to providers of services I pay directly for. Not all the time, but sometimes. A proportion of the users of free services can also have disrespect for them on their side. Another example is the disrespect occasionally suffered by people trying to travelling on a train with a bicycle, when this service is provided for free, both by train staff and by other passengers on the train.
With respect I'm not sure that an awful lot is being said here. I could counter those anecdotes: I've been treated wonderfully by the NHS and terribly by companies I pay money to; conversely I've had difficult relationships with clients that have paid for my services and great ones with clients that haven't. You are just making assumptions that may or may not be borne out in evidence - but even if they are then those attitudes don't have to be set in stone. They might be difficult to shift and it might take a long time (again I'm not accepting they definitely exist anyway) but I don't think there is anything inherent in 'money=respect'.
My experience of bus companies outside London is that concessionary travel can be quite a material proportion of their traffic. 30% isn't unusual. From 9.30-3.30, it can be the great majority of traffic on some routes. The expense in providing it is indeed small in the grand scheme of things. But it isn't so small for local councils required to reimburse the loss of income and additional costs to bus companies legally required to provide this concessionary travel. Especially given how tightly central government has controlled local authority budgeting. And there are a lot of things that are "cheap in the grand scheme of things", but start to become a material cost if you are generous on too many of them.
It might well be expensive for local councils, but that's due to central government policy decisions that can be changed or reversed, and perhaps a need to question the value of a 'material cost' rather than just its price.

Anyway I think I'm getting a bit tired of analyses that just look inwards at the existing constituent components of an issue without thinking about how the issue fits into a larger structure. Of course you need to get down to the nitty gritty to solve a problem but if that's all that happens things end up being pretty myopic. I don't think my post about conditionality was particularly revelationary or original but it seems a few people felt it needed to be said. But comments like that get portrayed as hopeless idealism whereas these nitpicky analyses are portrayed as just being realistic, but I don't think they get anywhere on their own.
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IvanV
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Re: Green and Accessible Public Transport

Post by IvanV » Wed Jan 05, 2022 11:37 pm

discovolante wrote:
Wed Jan 05, 2022 8:57 pm
IvanV wrote:
Tue Jan 04, 2022 10:46 am
The second point about culture has a lot of truth in it. But I also worry that when things are handed out for free, the producer of that free service might take less care to provide it in a manner of suitable care and respect and quality, in particular respect for the user's time. In cases where there are both paying and non-paying customers, there can also be a risk that the latter are not treated with the care and respect of the former.

Anecdotes....
With respect I'm not sure that an awful lot is being said here. I could counter those anecdotes ...

Anyway I think I'm getting a bit tired of analyses that just look inwards at the existing constituent components of an issue without thinking about how the issue fits into a larger structure....
The point that free goods and services can often result in less respect between customer and supplier in both directions is a well-established and strong principle. I provided anecdotes not to try and demonstrate it, but help readers to understand it. If you want the demonstration, you can find that in the economics literature. I often provide references to the literature to support such claims, but on this occasion I don't have a handy reference I can think of. I apologise that trust me, I'm an expert, isn't very satisfactory, but it's the best I can do today on this one.

It is very much part of the larger structure which must be taken into account in trying to develop better policies in a wide range of social services.

At the same time, I agreed that there is a lot of truth in what you said, a great deal of truth. I am delighted to agree there are social services where free at point of delivery remains a good approach. But any service which is free at point of delivery inevitably suffers a higher risk of underfunding, poor quality of delivery, and over-demand by the recipients, than some other approaches. We need to be alert to the situation when these become material considerations, and consider how best to ameliorate them, while also taking into account the very valid points you also made.

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Bird on a Fire
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Re: Green and Accessible Public Transport

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Jan 05, 2022 11:53 pm

OTOH the chapter in Freakonomics about fining parents for late kindergarten pickups suggests that providing a service free engenders more respect than a low charge.
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Re: Green and Accessible Public Transport

Post by bagpuss » Thu Jan 06, 2022 9:34 am

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Wed Jan 05, 2022 11:53 pm
OTOH the chapter in Freakonomics about fining parents for late kindergarten pickups suggests that providing a service free engenders more respect than a low charge.
I think that might be subtly different as it wasn't so much about provision/use of a free service but about people taking a service for free that wasn't being intentionally provided at all*. So there was a level of guilt which wouldn't exist if they were using a service that was offered as free.


*For those unfamiliar with the chapter/book, it's about a nursery where they had a problem with parents arriving late to collect their children, so a fine was introduced, something like £x per 5 minutes late or whatever. The problem with lateness actually increased and the conclusion was that parents no longer felt as bad about being late as they saw it that they were now paying for that extra time.

IvanV
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Re: Green and Accessible Public Transport

Post by IvanV » Thu Jan 06, 2022 5:09 pm

bagpuss wrote:
Thu Jan 06, 2022 9:34 am
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Wed Jan 05, 2022 11:53 pm
OTOH the chapter in Freakonomics about fining parents for late kindergarten pickups suggests that providing a service free engenders more respect than a low charge.
I think that might be subtly different as it wasn't so much about provision/use of a free service but about people taking a service for free that wasn't being intentionally provided at all*. So there was a level of guilt which wouldn't exist if they were using a service that was offered as free.


*For those unfamiliar with the chapter/book, it's about a nursery where they had a problem with parents arriving late to collect their children, so a fine was introduced, something like £x per 5 minutes late or whatever. The problem with lateness actually increased and the conclusion was that parents no longer felt as bad about being late as they saw it that they were now paying for that extra time.
A very nice and accurate explanation.

Another factor in that can make money-free trades effective is that humans widely have some kind of respect for other kinds of transactions than the monetary, and in particular a sense of fair exchange of favours or gifts. Someone gives you a favour, there is a very strong instinct widely present across cultures to return a favour. This is why a store giving out tasting samples is such an effective sales method, be it of cheese, drinks, or whatever. Most people feel guilty if they take the tasting samples and don't buy something in return. It's why we steer very clear when some cult charity collector, or beggar, tries to give us a flower or something of that nature. But the public transport transaction does not involve any such exchange of favours, which weakens the sense of obligation.

Yet another is that there are clearly workers in public service provision who have a strong public service ethos, and gain considerable job satisfaction from a job well done, giving effective public service to the people they are paid to provide service to. This is why free public services can sometimes be a very good way to provide them, if that effect is dominating over other complications applying. You don't even have to pay people to get this effect. Our local branch library is staffed by unpaid volunteers, and is now much better now than when it was run by the council. But we can't expect the main public services to be provided by volunteers like that.

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