Private or Public?

Ian Folkhard wrote recently with this question:

Is there a website that objectively lays out the effects of privatization on formerly publicly controlled operations?

It would be very interesting to see if any of the savings and efficiencies that the supporters of privatization claim will result have actually been passed back to any group of taxpayers. Something that referred to the British experience with public transit and the railways would be really interesting reading.

I hunted around on the net and, alas, there are lots of papers written extolling the virtues of individual projects, but very little by way of an objective overview.  One paper was written for the OECD as a 30-year retrospective in January 2007.  The information in it is reasonably current, although the recent meltdown in London is not included.

[Note that this is a long paper with 35 pages of text, 14 pages of citations and 72 footnotes.  Be sure to read the footnotes as many of them contain important additional information.]

The author proceeds from the premise that some degree of private operation of public transit is becoming the norm rather than the exception, and that privatization is an attempt by the transit industry to become more competitive with the rising use of the automobile.  I don’t agree with that premise for reasons that will become obvious, but the presentation covers the subject and is not unduly doctrinaire about the wonders of free enterprise.  Continue reading

Siemens’ Combino Plus Campaign

A wraparound ad on the August 16 issue of 24 Hours extols Siemens new streetcars and refers readers to a website with more information. The layout has the earmarks of an ongoing advertising campaign with cheeky copy:

The Siemens page includes an animated look at the Combino Plus car as proposed for Toronto including simulation of the car on the Spadina and Queen lines.  There is a link to a data sheet on the Lisbon version of the car as well as a non-functioning [as of noon on August 17]  link to a Melbourne presentation.

A Siemens mockup is on view at the CNE grounds on Princes’ Boulevard along with the Bombardier mockup that appeared recently at Dundas Square. 

If you get bored with the streetcars, you can watch people getting fired out of a cannon.  Whether this will be yet another alternative for transit service remains to be seen.