Don’t Privatize the Broome County Bus System

By Dave Duncan

Broome County Executive, Debbie Preston, has commissioned a study that can lead to the replacement of the Broome County owned public transit system to private owners.

Returning the transit system to private hands would be a benefit only to a new company that would need to squeeze out a profit from the public, the riders and the current employees. 

Brief History

Until the late 1940’s a private company owned the bus lines. They milked the business dry. Busses were always breaking down, equipment was not maintained, and schedules were not regular enough to allow riders to get to work, doctor offices, and schools on time. The Broome County government was forced to step in and establish a reliable system that did not operate on the need for a profit by the owner. The county purchased new equipment and has maintained a good system.

 Broome County Would Give the Existing Bus Fleet to a Private Company

In Broome’s case new owners would be given the existing fleet of busses.  Once the existing fleet gets worn out the private owners can skip town.

 A Few Examples

Green Bay, Wis. privatized its bus system and five years later had to take it back. The same failure happened in northern Kentucky, Savanna, Ga., and Sacramento, Ca.  Pensacola, Fla. has a bus riding population similar to what exists in Broome County. After privatizing, the city was forced to take the bus system back when the private owners cut the number of busses in operation and covered fewer miles.

 Where Private Companies Get Their Profits

Private companies obtain their profits from cutting services in the less patronized areas and cutting pay and benefits for the drivers and maintenance crews. On average the private companies pay 37% less in wages and 61%less in benefits. Lower pay and benefits means longer lines at the welfare office.  Present employees of the Broome County Bus system would not be guaranteed a job with a privatize company. Also, any complaints about the private company’s service would be directed to the owners and not the elected County officials.  Private transit companies are more interested in profits than providing a service.

Public transportation systems throughout the United States are supported by federal, state and local tax dollars for the benefit of average citizens who need a reliable method of transportation.  

It is becoming increasingly clear to the U.S public that private corporations are more interested in profit than providing a public service. The corporations and the politicians and the corporate media are not looking out for the public’s interest.

In a time when the elderly population in Broome County is on the rise and fewer younger people can afford a car, our bus riding public needs more public transportation, not less.


      Some Other Reasons to Maintain Public Transportation

  •  Eases traffic congestion on our roads
  • Keeps our roads safer-riding the bus is 91 times safer than car
  • travel
  • Reduces gas consumption and dependence on foreign oil
  • Improves the air we breathe by reducing car pollution
  • Saves families up to $820 a month on transportation costs
  • Stimulates our economy – Every $1 invested in public transportation generates $4 in economic returns

                                                                         One Rider Speaks Out

 Marie Soto, a Binghamton resident and BC Transit bus rider is upset because the busses stop running so early in the evening. “For very important health purposes,” she says, “I need an expanded schedule. If our bus system is privatized, further schedule cut backs will be made. The number of unmet community needs will increase with privatization.”





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