In a recent article, transit critic Wendell Cox proposes to replace most transit service with subsidized automobiles for low income households. This proposal is located at the Heartland Institute website, Why Not Just Buy Them Cars? Based on the author's calculations, Cox unwittingly underestimated the additional transportation costs of implementing his proposal in the real world by $40-$66 billion per year.
To begin with, Cox grossly underestimates the cost of providing replacement paratransit service for current elderly and disabled transit patrons. Collectively the U.S. spends about $1.6 billion annually to carry slightly less than 80 million annual paratransit passengers. Assuming 10% of existing fixed route bus and rail passengers were elderly and disabled persons who cannotor should notdrive for various reasons, annual costs of providing replacement paratransit service would increase by an order of magnitude to about $15-$16 billion annually. If 15% of transit users shouldn't drive, this amount increases to $24 billion+ annually, e.g., about the current level of transit subsidies.
Thanks to Michael D. Setty