Back to the Future?

“New Orleans plans to outsource nearly every aspect of its mass-transit
system to a French company, an approach that could appeal to other
cash-strapped American cities looking to cut spending without
eliminating bus or rail services.”

So begins a story in this morning’s Wall Street Journal, accompanied by a picture of tourists riding a St. Charles line streetcar. Small irony here: New Orleans was one of the last privately owned big-city transit systems in the U.S., a subsidiary of an electric utility until the 1980s.

Most people in the Bay Area don’t know it, but most agencies here outsource at least a part of their service to contractors. The most common outsourcing involves paratransit van service, but some agencies such as SamTrans outsource some of their core routes to contractors as well.

But New Orleans would be the first vintage streetcar operation we know of in the U.S. to be operated by a contractor. Did we miss one? Any thoughts on the prospects of more outsourcing in the Bay Area (whether streetcars, buses, or other public transit)?

Comments: 6

  1. I think when Muni implements changes to the Community Network, Muni’ll probably outsource operations of the community route to a contractor.
    Also, most of Marin Transit routes are actually operated by either MV (the stagecoach) or Golden Gate Transit.

  2. if it’s a non-profit, i wouldn’t be so alarmed.
    also, if there was a guaranteed amount of revenue based on customer satisfaction, i’d roll with that, too, but corporations are crooks — this privatization is just anti-democratic.

  3. Not a WSJ subscriber, but I presume it is the usual privatization process: cut the pay for the actual workers, cut the benefits and pension, if any. You can save lots of money that way.

  4. Not in the same league with Muni or New Orleans, but last time I looked the San Pedro Waterfront Red Car (LA Harbor) was run by Herzog.

  5. If SF city government actually gave a crap about people who *ride* Muni they’d kick the current bunch of jokers running it to the curb and outsource managing it.
    SamTrans actually works pretty well. It doesn’t have the density of service of Muni, but if you walk to a bus stop when there’s supposed to be a bus, lo and behold, pretty soon one will show up. Not a snazzy as Nextbus but a lot more useful!

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