Here in the DC area, our subway, the 2nd most ridden in the country, faces possible service cuts and fare hikes, due to one growing cost - worker pensions. The pension contribution has grown from $50 million to over $100 million annually, or about $10,000 per worker. Meanwhile, in New Jersey, Chris Christie has pointed to NJ Transit's gold plated pension as a prime target for cuts.
We cannot expect to build transit systems for the 21st century if we compensate workers like it's still the 1950s. Defined-benefit pensions are rare in the private sector and add unnecessary cost to running a bus or rail system. If the market requires higher pay for transit employees, boost their base pay, but these pension death spirals have to stop.