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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"Premium service"

I was reading the Utah Transportation Report, and this caught my eye:

In order to gain support for tolling, Poole suggested that any interstate tolling project must add value; that is, bring something new and extra to users. Tolls cannot simply be placed on an existing highway without adding new value to it. Value can be added in the form of an entirely new highway, major capacity additions to an existing highway, or major reconstruction of an existing highway. Conti agreed with Poole on the idea that there must be some sort of new benefit to any new tolls."Maybe we need to focus on this 'premium service' concept," Conti said. "Could showing that there is value added change any opposition?" 
I think it goes a long way toward explaining WHY light rail does so much better (politically) than 'improved bus' projects. If you are going to charge people more (in fares or taxes) you need to show them some benefit for it. And not just aggregate benefit, but direct benefit.

This is something more and more non-profits have learned over the years--people give more money when they can see the impact their money has made. The WWF postcards don't say "You saved an estimated 1.1 tigers!"--they say "This tiger. You saved THIS tiger". Transit agencies would do well to emulate that level of connection, and the related accountability.