Charles Carson
There is no ballpark quite like Wrigley Field. Although I am a diehard Cardinals fan who passionately despises the Chicago Cubs, I can appreciate a truly great and historic ballpark when I see it.

Last weekend, I traveled to Chicago to see some college friends and visit Wrigley for the first time. I thought about driving, but that would have set me back about $100 in gas. I thought about flying, but airfare to Chicago was running above $250. I thought about Amtrak, but that would have set me back about $60 roundtrip.

Instead, I took Megabus to and from Chicago for a total of $21 roundtrip. That cost you, the taxpayer, next to nothing because private commercial buses receive an average federal subsidy of $0.10 per passenger per trip. Amtrak, on the other hand, receives an average federal subsidy of $57.04 per passenger per trip.

I personally don’t think subsidies are necessary and would willingly pay an extra 10 cents for my bus fare if federal subsidies were discontinued. Compared to Amtrak subsidies, however, the cost to taxpayers is negligible.

Through federal subsidies, intercity buses are partly exempt from the federal diesel fuel tax, paying 7.4 cents per gallon instead of 24.3 cents. Assuming that the bus got 4 miles to the gallon on the 300 mile trip to Chicago, Megabus would have paid $18.23 in tax to the federal government, but because of the subsidy, the company only paid $5.55. The company still paid the full state tax on fuel.

Commercial buses are a great example of the private sector stepping in to satisfy a demand that benefits consumers with a negligible burden on taxpayers.

I had an excellent trip because of Megabus. But next time I go to Wrigley, I better not see that silly white flag.

About the Author

Charles Carson