The extent to which express bus services are operated and financed as simple extensions of citywide bus systems merges the distinctly different services and rider constituencies under a common fare and operational structure. While bus services are generally operated at substantial deficits, and extensively subsidized by transit authorities, express bus systems providing service to commuters traveling between urban and suburban destinations are even less likely to prove cost effective or self supporting. This is particularly true when costly bus ways must be constructed to accommodate express bus operations. Notwithstanding damage to streets that standard bus routing and travel creates, typical bus services utilize existing pavement and street rights of way, while express bus services often require new roadways and structures to provide expedited and direct service.
Operating under fare structures established and administered by bus operators, express bus services tend to be even less cost effective than regular bus services. Traffic congestion relief and other purported improvements to transportation systems and urban conditions provided by express services are barely demonstrable, yet express bus services are subsidized to a greater degree than are typical bus services. Rationale for continuation of such unsustainably inefficient express bus services is often provided by transportation authorities’ continued operation and funding as a part of bus systems that provide bus service as a public benefit, rather than a cost effective public service.
As long as transportation authorities find it appropriate to subsidize bus system operation at levels unsustainable in any other enterprise, (Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority subsidizes 75% of bus operating costs), their funding status and ability to extend low cost transportation services will be limited and subject to periodic cut backs. Conversely, when the costs of constructing bus ways and other facilities for express bus services are added into general financial structures of a broader bus network, an excessive burden is placed on bus system funding.
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