Public Transport Subsidies and Affordability in Mumbai, India

Cropper, M.L., and S. Bhattacharya, Urban Studies Research, November .


This paper describes the role of public transport and incidence of transport subsidies in Mumbai, India, where public transport is used for over 75% of all motorized trips. On average, expenditure on public transit constitutes a larger share of income for the poor than for the middle class. However, a larger fraction of transit users are middle class. In terms of incidence, the poorest 27% of the population receives only 19% of bus subsidies and 15.5% of rail subsidies. One-quarter of these households do not use rail, and 10% do not use bus, implying that they receive no transit subsidies. Improving the welfare of the poor through demand-side subsidies or cash transfer is, however, difficult. We therefore examine the optimal level of transit subsidies, based solely on distributional considerations.

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