Sunday, July 21, 2013

How to fund transit without cutting service or hiking fares

I came across this article in the transportation discussion forum over at skyscraperpage.com. Frankly, I think it makes a great deal of sense. If you run bus routes at certain times and they actually run on time -- arrive and depart when they are supposed to -- then you are going to have a very successful system. As indicated in the article, many of the bus drivers finished their routes early and did not take longer breaks in between running routes.  So let's say that a driver ends his route 5 minutes early. Instead of taking a 35-minute break to start his route "on time," he takes his usual 30 minutes before hopping back on the bus.  As a result, the following routes will be 5 minutes ahead of schedule to boot. If anyone is waiting to catch the 1:30 bus to the theater, guess what, the 1:30 just became 1:25. The odds are you're going to miss it, get frazzled at the agency, and then figure, "why bother taking the bus?"

If you improve on-time performances, you can actually generate more ridership. Hopefully, this should also lead to some increases in revenue from the fare boxes. Mr. Mark Aesch, the gentleman who came up with this scheme while serving as transit director in Rochester, NY, stated that if routes are generating higher ridership or higher fare box revenue, then these routes would remain in the system. If routes are generating neither of the two, then they would be cut. He employed this rubric to establish a balance between higher and lower income riders so that fewer lower income riders would be stranded if routes are cut. After working at Rochester, he then employed this scheme in Detroit with their ailing bus system. According to the article, he was able to turn this around.

To read the full article, here is the link to the full article on how to fund transit without service cuts or fare hikes.