Back a couple years ago, I noted an Econtalk podcast with Russell Roberts and Duke University Professor Mike Munger on the private bus system in Santiago, Chile. This week’s episode starts with Munger’s update on the Santiago transportation system after visiting for three weeks and spending a lot of time traveling the city’s buses and transit. This discussion comes at a perfect time to follow-up on Stephen Smith’s post on private busing in New York.
Munger and Roberts discussed the advantages and problems of the evolution of the system over the years. In the case of the private system with over 3,000 competing private bus companies, accidents and injuries were common, and pollution was problematic. However, the regulation and publicization of the buses led to unintended consequences that were probably far worse than the drawbacks of the private system. Unfortunately, although the administration has apologized for the failures of the system, it would be politically impossible to revert to some of the beneficial aspects of the private system.