Making the buses run on time.

The following podcast is well worth listening to. It outlines how the government of Chile has destroyed a thriving privately operated public transport sector.

http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2010/08/munger_on_priva.html

In short Chile went from having an average commute time of 40minutes to having an average commute time of 1 hr and 40 minutes because the government took over the bus industry in 2007. Not only did they take over the industry but they changed drivers incentives. Now the buses are half empty, people can’t get on them, they take longer to get anywhere, congestion has increased as people have shifted to cars and taxis and where the industry once made a modest profit it now loses masses of money. Tragic.

One thought on “Making the buses run on time.

  1. I listened to this podcast too last week. I thought it interesting how despite all the current problems with the government system the majority of residents are totally against returning to the private system (dangerous, aggressive driving for potential passengers and pollution). As discussed on the podcast both problems could be reasonably contained with some modifications to the system (bus stops, pre paid cards and stricter pollution laws) but the public is so overwhelming against the market based system that it would apparently be political suicide to advocate for a return.

    Seems to be typical anti-market bias from the public. The government system continues to be a total shemozzle but when passengers were quizzed at random their call was for the current system but with ‘better drivers and buses’ as the solution.

    Maybe the lesson here is that with the anti-market bias running so deep you are best to get things as close to right the first time around because people aren’t going to be anywhere near as forgiving of markets as they are of governments.

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