Wednesday, December 21, 2005

New York City's Quality of Life During the Public Transit Strike

After interviewing an embedded reporter (my father) about how New York City’s Public Transit Strike has affected this city's quality of life, I would like to ask some questions and make a few observations.

1. What is the marginal increase in worker's commute times? How does this increase vary as a function of a person's income and commute schedule? My father is a doctor. His day starts at 8AM and usually ends at 9PM. After the first day of the strike, he is not having trouble finding a cab. But, the cabs now have multiple people in them and this slows him down. In addition, since the subways are not operating there is more traffic on his route and this increases his commute time.

2. During this time of high demand, how could the taxi market be made more efficient? The current problem is that holding commute zone constant, everyone is paying the same price for a taxi ride. If high value of time people could signal that they are willing to pay more for a cab ride, how much would this reduce the deadweight loss of this strike? I'm making the obvious point that there is not enough price discrimination taking place right now and this introduces inefficient queing for cabs. Sticky prices might have excited Keynes but I'm Kahn, not Keynes. To reduce search costs for cabs perhaps a co-ordination device is needed. Permit me to suggest one. If you are willing to pay a premium for a cab, you should wear a Krugman mask and beard. This would differentiate you from other ordinary buyers of this product.


Edie said...

Interesting. How much time did your father lose in his commute?

Rob Dawg said...

Anyone inconvienienced by the transit strike is in no position to complain. How much sympathy would an auto user participating in a special program to get gasoline for 75 cents per gallon get if the supply was disrupted? Until NYCT riders start paying at least double what they pay now they've no business participating in a discussion between the transit workers and their employers.

Amy Stodghill said...

Your commentors obviously don't live in NYC. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not an economist and I have no data at hand aside from my observations and personal experience - but those who were "inconvenienced" by the transit strike were those who live in lower income areas such as the bronx, queens and brooklyn. These people face long commutes on a good day, and nearly three or four times as long during the strike. Taxi cabs are not an option for these people (myself included) and a majority do not have cars. On a non-strike day cab drivers don't normally do the outer boroughs (bronx, queens and brooklyn) and on the strike day cabs were upping their fares, and taking on multiple passengers who were not allowed to split that fare, but each had to pay. This was a perfect example of supply and demand - supply is low, demand is high, price goes up. What is my point? I don't really have one - I was just annoyed at the other two comments. I don't care how much commute time your dad lost, I can give you about a million people who lost more - and comparing NYC transit riders to auto users and gas is just a lame comparison. It would be interesting for some economist to figure out how much money was lost in the city due to the strike...

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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