Public Transit News and Current Happenings

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grrdanko
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby grrdanko » February 21st, 2017, 6:56 pm

Speaking of fares a bill was introduced in the House to require transit within the 7 county metro area to have at least an 80% farebox recovery ratio.

https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.p ... rsion=list

acs
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby acs » February 21st, 2017, 7:50 pm

80% is ridiculous, but in 2017 the Met Council only expects to get 17% of funding through fares. That has to improve greatly or the Met Council loses a lot of leverage in these debates. We've seen proposals for a fare increase but no info yet on how that would move the farebox recovery ratio.

http://www.startribune.com/citizens-lea ... 414404383/

jebr
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby jebr » February 21st, 2017, 9:07 pm

Taking a look at the 2015 Fact Book for Metro Transit, it appears 24.8% of their revenue comes from fares. That's not much better, but it is still a fair amount better. The Met Council's is likely lower as it includes contracted routes and (probably more significantly) Metro Mobility and Transit Link. I see a lot of Metro Mobility buses around here, and I'm sure it's not cheap to run those buses. Ideally I'd like to see a 30-35% cost recovery ratio on the Metro Transit routes.

The 80% bill is just dumb. If nothing else, make all regular route service do it in the state. I can't imagine the rural route service or dial-a-ride services are even getting 17% farebox recovery.

SkyScraperKid
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby SkyScraperKid » February 21st, 2017, 10:28 pm

Taking a look at the 2015 Fact Book for Metro Transit, it appears 24.8% of their revenue comes from fares. That's not much better, but it is still a fair amount better. The Met Council's is likely lower as it includes contracted routes and (probably more significantly) Metro Mobility and Transit Link. I see a lot of Metro Mobility buses around here, and I'm sure it's not cheap to run those buses. Ideally I'd like to see a 30-35% cost recovery ratio on the Metro Transit routes.

The 80% bill is just dumb. If nothing else, make all regular route service do it in the state. I can't imagine the rural route service or dial-a-ride services are even getting 17% farebox recovery.
so that would mean it would have to be about x3 the rate it is now? So a bus fare during rush hour would be $6.75? and $13.50 for a round trip work day? ...wait a second, is it just me or does that look like a tax on the poor? Or am I doing my rough math wrong?

Also if that policy was extended to roadways would that increase any existing taxes or do roadways already recover 80% of cost ratio. I mean they must right?

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Anondson
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby Anondson » February 21st, 2017, 10:42 pm

Local streets are paid by property taxes. The gas tax, license tabs and vehicle sales taxes do not pay for 80% of state aid roads and highways. Not sure the exact amount but a large portion is the general fund (so income taxes are a big chunk?) and debt and bonds.

Silophant
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby Silophant » February 21st, 2017, 10:56 pm

so that would mean it would have to be about x3 the rate it is now? So a bus fare during rush hour would be $6.75? and $13.50 for a round trip work day? ...wait a second, is it just me or does that look like a tax on the poor? Or am I doing my rough math wrong?
Nope, that's exactly what it is.

RailBaronYarr
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby RailBaronYarr » February 22nd, 2017, 10:19 am

Local streets are paid by property taxes. The gas tax, license tabs and vehicle sales taxes do not pay for 80% of state aid roads and highways. Not sure the exact amount but a large portion is the general fund (so income taxes are a big chunk?) and debt and bonds.
(oy. long, exhaustive post alert)

This argument gets very tricky depending on how you slice it. Statewide, user fees (including federal gas tax, state gas tax/MVST/registration) cover pretty damn close to what *MnDOT* spends on trunk highways, county and state aid roads through the HUTD. I'll admit to sympathizing with someone who looks at a MnDOT budget and sees it basically in the black and thinks user fees cover expenses (but admitting we've been delaying maintenance so we just gotta spend a tiny bit more). When you throw in all the local streets and local funding for CSAH/MSAS streets, that user fee:spend ratio drops to 40-50%. Remember, that's statewide.

Now, if we look at the entire metro area (taken in this case as MnDOT's Metro District), I think that's a better comparison to a transit agency that only serves commuting and regular trips within the metro (even if more limited than our road coverage). User fees generated in-district are greater than spend. I dug into 2014 numbers by summing all reported MSAS, CSAH, and Trunk Highway (which includes distribution from the federal gov't) spending within the district ($832m), and also did a rough calculation of user fees (MVST & license by metro district population % of state's total * total revenues of those sources, gas tax using reported metro district VMT/avg mpg * state + federal gas tax). That came to $1.4 billion. I'ts $1.1 billion if you cut out the federal gas tax. Some of that goes to other local uses (ex. 40% of the MVST), and some of it goes to subsidize the rest of the state.

And of course, local governments are still spending tons of money building and maintaining local streets and their share of CSAH/MSAS. So that "farebox recovery" would obviously shift negative, but in the metro I'm not sure how much below 80% it'd go. Honestly, in big metros where there are millions of people driving long, but not TOO long, distances every day in their car... user fees are quite high. A 4 lane death road doesn't cost much more to build than a 2- or 3-lane one when you factor everything in. A suburban arterial doesn't cost much more than a Lyndale Ave. Hell, it might cost less since they don't put in real sidewalks or ped lighting or street trees or bus stops. It's why Minneapolis is denser than Bloomington or Edina but our public works budget per capita is still higher (and that doesn't even count transit ops/capital). The obvious problem with a gas tax/etc vs highway cost view is that it ignores if the resulting tax base from a car-oriented land use can cover the local roads and pipes. And that there are things not included in a DOT's transportation budget like safety, pollution, climate change, making the bottom 20% of people who can't afford cars not able to have equitable access to opportunity, etc etc.

Bringing this back to transit - that proposal is mostly bad, but it's okay to have mixed feelings. It's an obvious rural/exurban swipe at poor (minority) people and they don't really want better transit through improving finances but rather no transit because they don't really care who's screwed. On the other hand, we don't need to be transit sycophants to oppose the idea behind it. There are cities in first-world countries where transit revenues come much closer to covering (operating) costs. Some of that has to do with land uses that support more all-day trips in more directions. A lot of it has to do with the cost of owning and operating a car being higher - making transit and living in transit-friendly places a more natural option. Some of it has to do with our federal requirements (ex. Buy America for bus purchases, and on). Some of it has to do with transit governance and operations, things like:
- Competitively bidding routes with private operators
- Wider stop spacing (reduces ops cost per revenue mile)
- All-door boarding (same)
- Transit signal priority at lights, even for regular routes (same)
- Cheap improvements that make waiting for transit more informative and comfortable, therefore attractive
- [maybe the biggest] Ratcheting back on employee pay/benefits (this is hard to compare how good they had/have it vs our PPP salary/benefits for transit workers)

Anyway, it's hard to hear the GOP constantly pull this shit. But it's also hard to hear how we can't do it here. Metro Transit operates in environs that aren't THAT incomparable to random German towns. Why can they get 77% FRR across an entire country while ours is 25%? Hell, even some of our most productive bus routes through the densest parts of Minneapolis don't hit 77% total - so it's not like the answer is getting the lower-ridership ones more full of people. And in case you're wondering, I don't think covering more ops cost with fares is a goal unto itself, merely it would be indicative of a successful transit agency providing a greater share of residents' total trips at a higher level of service (frequency, coverage, span, etc). To that point, I don't even really care if the user pays 0% of the operating cost - a city or county could just cover that existing share from our property taxes, which would be more equitable anyway. I could drive for literally miles around Minneapolis or Lakeville and only be paying 14% (or less!) of that road's costs in "user fees" by staying on local and MSAS streets, but nobody from the GOP gives a damn. Why should anyone?

jebr
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby jebr » February 22nd, 2017, 10:48 am

Route changes for March 4 released: https://www.metrotransit.org/these-rout ... on-march-4

Largest changes I'm finding:
Route 7: Weekend/holiday service to Historic Fort Snelling, connecting to the Blue Line at 46th and Fort Snelling. It will be nice to not have to do the mile walk when visiting there, but they'll likely have 2-3 months of pretty empty buses on that segment until Fort Snelling opens Memorial Day weekend.
Route 10: First, the summary of this change is false - each branch is changing from 20 minutes to 30 minutes during midday. This is being done by changing one of every 3 buses to a 10H, ending at 53rd and SuperTarget.
Route 16: Frequency and span of service reduced. It's now only running every 30 minutes throughout the day, and late night trips are being eliminated. Late evening trips are also stopping at University and Fairview.

Silophant
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby Silophant » February 22nd, 2017, 10:58 am

Distressing to see so many "service reduced" changes.

Except on Route 16. Time to dump that entirely.

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Tcmetro
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby Tcmetro » February 22nd, 2017, 11:06 am

I'm also noticing a service cut on the 5.

Weekdays cut from every 7 to every 10 minutes.
Saturdays from every 7 to every 12 minutes.
Sundays from every 10-15 to every 12-15 minutes.

Other frequency cuts on the 4, 63, and 515.
Last three trips on the 115 being cut are a little surprising. I thought this route was decently productive.
The rest seem to be specific trip cuts at peak hours. Cutting one or two trips from peak expresses can have some significant impacts on the schedule, but allow for a lot more efficiency in allocating drivers.

intercomnut
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby intercomnut » February 22nd, 2017, 11:55 am

Distressing to see so many "service reduced" changes.

Except on Route 16. Time to dump that entirely.
It's distressing, but at least they're doing what they need to do to weather the budget storm and ensure they can run all their service (given the current operator shortage).

jebr
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby jebr » February 22nd, 2017, 11:56 am

Just throwing this out there: how may of the changes are due to budgetary issues and how many may be due to issues with hiring drivers? I've seen Metro Transit push pretty hard to try and find new drivers, and there's been a few comments on Metro Transit's Facebook page indicating some buses not running.

DanPatchToget
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby DanPatchToget » February 23rd, 2017, 12:41 pm

What happened to the 54 extension north?

intercomnut
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby intercomnut » February 23rd, 2017, 12:45 pm

What happened to the 54 extension north?
I think it's coming online this year.

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Tiller
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby Tiller » February 23rd, 2017, 12:50 pm

We were supposed to get it last year, though now it's allegedly slated for this summer. I hope it's not delayed again because of Metro Transit's budget shortfall.

bptenor
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby bptenor » February 23rd, 2017, 1:47 pm

I'd use the 54 extension all the time. I hope it's not delayed again.

Vagueperson
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby Vagueperson » February 23rd, 2017, 8:30 pm

I also hope it's not delayed. Last I heard it was for this summer. I also heard it will require rebuilding the corner of Maryland and Arcade - specifically the Walgreen sign - so the bus can make the turn.

https://www.google.com/maps/@44.977567, ... 312!8i6656

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Tcmetro
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby Tcmetro » February 24th, 2017, 1:49 pm

Monday's Transportation Committee meeting has an update about the fare increase. Apparently a policy study was conducted a few years ago, which suggested a simpler fare system by eliminating peak fares, all day reduced fares, local fares for reverse commute express buses, low income discounts, modify discounts for stored value, get rid of free paper transfers (GoTo only).

Current focus is increasing revenue. Apparently they're going to postpone any consideration of peak fare elimination and transfer elimination in the future. The express threshold is being considered to be moved to 5.5 miles (not 5 miles as in the previous SWT presentation).

https://metrocouncil.org/Council-Meetin ... hange.aspx

--

I think that the paper transfer elimination and the peak fare elimination would make the fares a lot simpler. Few cities have peak fares for urban transit (Seattle and Washington Metrorail come to mind), and Pittsburgh recently eliminated theirs. A lot of cities are getting rid of the paper transfers and are charging more for cash to get people to use the contactless cards. In Chicago, there is a 25 cent surcharge for cash bus fares, while rail stations charge $3 for a single-ride contactless paper ticket that includes bus transfers. I think that the biggest barrier to getting GoTo usage here is the lack of places where GoTo cards can be bought. MT should develop a policy regarding access to GoTo card machines, to reduce or eliminate cash usage. One last thing that I would like to see is fare capping in lieu of passes. This would give lower-income people the benefits of passes without requiring the larger upfront purchase cost of the pass. Also it would simplify product provision significantly, as there would only be the bus fare listed, no pass prices.

David Greene
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby David Greene » February 24th, 2017, 4:27 pm

Almost everyone one of those fare modifications disproportionately impacts low-income people. I understand the value of GoTo cards for Metro Transit but as Tcmetro says, they need to be much more accessible before we start eliminating paper transfers.

I don't like the way this is going.

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amiller92
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby amiller92 » February 24th, 2017, 4:30 pm

Agree with David.


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