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(Businesses also want customers to pay more rather than less, but for our purposes here let’s hold fares or prices constant, and just think about how you get lots of customers.) Everyone understands that Mc Donalds is a business, which means it is under no obligation to provide a burger restaurant within 1/2 mile of every citizen.If they were, every ranch (population 4) in North Dakota would need to have its own Mc Donalds at the end of the driveway.Frequency Matters First, you really must understand transit frequency.It’s the elapsed time between consecutive buses (or trains, or ferries) on a line, which determines the maximum waiting time.Frequency has three independent benefits for the customer, which helps to explain why high frequency is so critical to sustained high ridership: If you think about how these three things govern the real usefulness of transit, you can begin to see why frequency is such a ferocious ridership-driver.Notice that these three mechanisms are logically independent of each other, so they represent three value; its benefits tend to be exponential, up to a point, because improving frequency is actually three different improvements at once.Here’s a simple scatterplot with a dot for each bus route in a whole bunch of US agencies where my firm has had occasion to collect data.Note that higher frequency ( on the X axis) correlates with high productivity (ridership per unit of service cost). Double the frequency of a line and you’ve doubled its operating cost, so you would expect high frequency to pull productivity .
Businesses deploy their product or service where it will succeed.Those can both be valid government purposes, but they lead to the creation of services where ridership is not the objective.The objective, instead, is to satisfy (a) and/or (b) above.For a while I’ve wanted to synthesize some material that’s scattered through my book (and more recent work) but that needs to be presented more directly. , and the first thing businesses do is choose which markets they will enter.It’s long, but there are handy section dividers along the way, and pictures near the end. Unlike governments, businesses feel no obligation to provide their service in places where they would spend a lot of money to serve very few people.