Fixed rail streetcars used in El Paso until 1974.

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I should maybe clarify then because you are right some systems do technically not lose money, though that’s not the same as being self sustaining. Mass transit systems can’t make a profit off of *ticket sales* any more. And I can’t speak for the other two, but the Tokyo subway system is still heavily subsidized by the government, especially when constructing new lines.

Mass transit is what’s called in economics and externality. It has a broad impact on the whole, but very little of its effects can be traced to single sources. Yes people who ride the subway obviously benefit from there being a subway. However, those who don’t ride also benefit. Benefit from less congestion when driving, benefit from allowing workers to get to work even if they can’t afford a car, benefit from having more foot traffic to businesses, yet none of the people above are paying for that benefit. When there were no cars, ticket sales were enough because almost all the benefits of a subway required people to use the subway. Now people benefit whether they ride or not, and it’s much more difficult bordering on impossible to still remain profitable while doing that.

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