Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Making leisure pay

The Bixi system in Montreal allows users to rent bicycles at stations all around town. It's popular but expensive: maintaining a Bixi bicycle cost around 3000$ per year, which is heavily subsidized by the city. Some opposition politicians suggest that just buying everyone a regular bicycle would be a cheaper alternative to Bixi, and accomplish the same congestion reduction and environmental goals.

There are often one or two broken bicycles at each Bixi station waiting for repair. Such repairs require paid staff to service the bicycles. The alternate solution would have owners of bicycles repair them on their own time. This is an example of how one method makes use of "work hours" to accomplish a task, whereas the other method makes use of "leisure hours".

While increasing the number of officially worked hours is not popular, making small changes could result in heightened productivity by moving tasks from work hours to leisure hours.

For example, the vast majority of state services provided for individuals could be offered outside of regular work hours. Very often, employees must take time off work to go to a clinic, to renew a passport, etc. Only offering these services on week nights and during weekends would increase productivity of those working in non-government service jobs.

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