Cato essays on the Department of Transportation contain a common theme: federal subsidies for various modes of transportation have stifled privately funded and operated alternatives. One emerging bright spot is private intercity bus companies.
From a Cato essay on Amtrak subsidies:
If Amtrak is privatized, passenger rail will be in a much better position to compete with resurgent intercity bus services. The rapid growth in bus services in recent years illustrates how private markets can solve our mobility needs if left reasonably unregulated and unsubsidized. A Washington Post reporter detailed her experiences with today’s low-cost intercity buses: “This new species offers curbside pickup and drop-offs, cheap fares, clean restrooms, express service, online reservations, free WiFi and loyalty programs … The bus fares undercut Amtrak and, depending on the number of passengers, personal vehicles.”
That angers Dave Clark, owner of Skyline Shuttle, which provides transportation from Duluth to the Twin Cities. Clark claims it’s unfair for Jefferson Lines to use government money to compete with his business and cut into his revenue.
“When there’s a market and they are competitors, it should be left to the market without government interference,” Clark said. “They could have taken the risk themselves, but they relied on the taxpayer to take the risk.”