Reducing costs, improving performance through competitive contracting
HARRISBURG, PA - Today, the Commonwealth Foundation released a policy brief, Mass Transit Reform: Lessons for Pennsylvania, which examines how other states and cities have reduced costs and improved performance of their mass transit systems through "competitive contracting" of services.
"Unfortunately for Pennsylvania taxpayers and transit users, the near-total focus by lawmakers on revenue will not solve transit's seemingly endless series of financial crises," said Nathan Benefield, director of policy research at the Commonwealth Foundation. "Policymakers in Harrisburg must reform the current mass transit systems before sending them another taxpayer dollar."
Costs for mass transit have consistently outpaced the rate of inflation, increasing at a far faster rate than they would have in a competitive environment. As the experience of other cities demonstrates, competitive contracting holds the promise of ending Pennsylvania transit agencies' annual "budget crisis."
Mass Transit Reform describes competitive contracting of mass transit in San Diego, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas-Fort Worth, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Las Vegas, Indianapolis, and Denver and offers principles for competitive contracting in Pennsylvania. Grant Gulibon, Research Fellow with the Commonwealth Foundation and author of the policy brief, writes, "Only when services are competitively provided will transit users and taxpayers in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and points in between finally obtain the quality of service and cost efficiency that they deserve."
"Throwing more money into existing bureaucracies will not solve the problems with transportation in Pennsylvania," said Benefield. "No additional money should be awarded to transit agencies without substantial reform in how services are delivered. Competitive contracting can ensure the greatest effectiveness in transportation solutions at the least cost to taxpayers."
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EDITOR'S NOTE: The Policy Brief, Mass Transit Reform: Lessons for Pennsylvania, is available online at mail.commonwealthfoundation.org/PB19-03.pdf
The Commonwealth Foundation (www.CommonwealthFoundation.org) is an independent, non-profit public policy research and educational institute located in Harrisburg, PA.