GMAT : Analysis of An Argument
28. The following appeared in the editorial section of a local newspaper.
Commuter use of the new subway train is exceeding the transit company's projections. However, commuter use of the shuttle buses that transport people to the subway stations is below the projected volume. If the transit company expects commuters to ride the shuttle busses to the subway rather than drive there, it must either reduce the shuttle bus fares or increase the price of parking at the subway stations.
Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. In your discussion be sure to analyze the line of reasoning and the use of evidence in the argument. For example, you may need to consider what questionable assumptions underline the thinking and what alternative explanations or counterexamples might weaken the conclusion. You can also discuss what sort of evidence would strengthen or refute the argument, what changes in the argument would make it more logically sound and what, if anything, would help you better evaluate in conclusion.
The author concludes that the local transit company must either reduce fares for the shuttle buses that transport people to their subway stations or increase parking fees at the stations.
The reasons offered to support this conclusion are that commuter use of the subway train is exceeding the transit company's expectations, while commuter use of the shuttle buses is below projected volume.
This argument is unconvincing because the author oversimplifies the problem and its solutions in a number of ways.
To begin with, by concluding that the transit company must either reduce shuttle fares or increase parking fees, the author assumes that these are the only available solutions to the problem of limited shuttle use. However, it is possible that other factors such as inconvenient shuttle routing and/or scheduling, safety concerns or an increase in carpools contribute to the problem. If so, adjusting fares or parking fees by themselves might not solve the problem.
In addition, the author assumes that reducing Shuttle fees and increasing parking fees are mutually exclusive alternatives. However, the author provides no reason for imposing an either/or choice. Adjusting both shuttle fares and parking fees might produce better results. Moreover, if the author is wrong in the assumption that parking fees and shuttle fees are the only possible causes of the problem, then the most effective solution might include a complex of policy changes - for example, in shuttle fares, parking fees, rerouting and rescheduling.
In conclusion, this argument is weak because the author oversimplifies both the problem and its possible solutions. To strengthen the argument the author must examine all factors that might account for the shuttle's unpopularity. Additionally, the author should consider all possible solutions to determine which combination would bring about the greatest increase in shuttle use.