Monday, June 14, 2010

Raising Bus Fares and other Taxes

Steve Bland, Port Authority's CEO, is facing some tough choices. An unexpected cut in state funding (due to the state's moronic dependence on inappropriately tolling Interstate 80) is forcing Port Authority to face $25 Million in less funding. The authority is pondering cutting routes, cutting service (including eliminating nights & weekends), and increasing fares.

Mr. Bland said the authority is reluctant to raise the $2 base fare for Zone 1 because that would hurt its lowest-income customers and affect routes that are the most cost-effective.

On some urban routes, the authority's cost per passenger is less than the $2 fare, he said. Meanwhile, on routes that serve outlying suburbs, the per-passenger cost is $7 or more and the fare just $2.75.

So what Mr Bland is saying is that lowest-income customers are actually helping to subsidize the outer zone customers? Sure, raise those outer zone fares. But keep in mind that if you make a round-trip bus fare on par with parking downtown, more people will drive and park downtown. Of course, if the state can get its act together and find some funding, most of these threats can be eliminated. From Marcellus Shale to chewing tobacco, there are lots of untapped revenue sources in this state. Unfortunately, legislators are afraid they'll lose their jobs if they raise the gas tax or find other tax sources. It's up to you to tell your legislator he or she will lose their job if they allow these massive public transportation cuts to happen.


Roxy said...

Not to mention that the low-income people who are usually the ones who have to work night and weekends will be out of work when they have no transportation!

gwenix said...

Public officials: contacted.

Public transportation is what makes a city a very strong entity. It allows people to get to work and play safely, it allows people of lower means to travel to other parts of the city for same, it helps reduce pollution for better breathing in the city, etc...

But for me? It means I don't have to drive in the unsafe crappy headache that is commuter traffic. Instead of a road rage waiting to happen, I just pull out my book/iPhone/iPad/whatever and happily destress on the bus before and after work.

Vannevar said...

I live out in the boonies, and I think a $5 or $7 fare into the city makes sense ($10 or $14 round-trip) compared to driving and parking.

Hmmm. If you don't want to pay the cost, you could - hey, you could live in the city!

And for those that condemn public operation of transit, I don't believe there's a lot of private companies willing to shuttle people round-trip for $14.

It makes sense to charge the people in (Moon, Cranberry, etc) the actual costs. It also makes sense IMO to help inner-city people trying to work and avoiding the dole to get to work as cheaply as possible.

Dean Jackson said...

I've gotta say I'd second raising suburban and exurban rates to match the extreme cost to the system.

Anonymous said...

ooo... you had me until you raised Marcellus Shale as an idea for revenue.

Trust me when I say that's not an option long term residents of the area should explore. Our groundwater cannot withstand the assault. They pump "trade secret" chemicals into the ground, and then our municipalities have the burden of making sure those chemicals are not in our drinking water (but the drillers are under no obligation to tell us what those chemicals are, how to test for them, or how to filter them - cute!). That's ignoring all the other "side effects" of drilling (increased tanker truck traffic on roads that can't handle it, air and noise pollution, little benefit to local economies, etc).

Perhaps with different legislation and different oversight, different engineering, and different revenue structure, it may become a viable, safe option for the area. As it stands, it is not.