How would you solve the WMATA budget?
WMATA has created an online survey for riders to weigh in on the many fare increase and service cut alternatives in the FY2011 budget.
Take the survey and give your thoughts on which ideas to accept and which to reject.
Here are the options I chose. I'm not totally positive this is best, as some of these items will still mean severe losses of ridership, but I tried to tailor it as much as possible to minimize that ridership loss.
- Raise peak period boarding charge 21% from $1.65 to $2. Increase peak mileage charges by 21%. Increase the maximum peak fare charges by 21% from $4.50 to $5.45 (Adds $57.9 million in revenue)
- Implement peak-of-the-peak pricing (50 cents added to peak boarding charge 7:30-9 am and 4:30-6 pm) (Adds $20 million in revenue)
- Proportional increase to weekly passes of up to 15% (Adds $600,000 in revenue)
- NO to: off-peak fare increase (the ridership loss is too great; a smaller off-peak fare increase might be okay)
- Undecided: Reduce bus-to-rail transfer from 3 hours to 2 hours (Adds $1.8 million) (WMATA's estimates for ridership loss are very high; on the other hand, they might be incorrect. It makes sense in theory, but not if the ridership loss would be as great as they estimate.)
Metrorail fares page 2:
- Increase the bus-to-rail transfer discount to 75 cents (Decreases revenue by $4.5 million) (The reason for this is that big bus and rail increases hit combination riders especially hard; increasing the discount mitigates this unfairness.)
- Charge peak-period fares on weekend late night service from 12:01 a.m. to closing (Adds $800,000 in revenue)
Metrorail service changes:
- Change peak period Red Line service such that there will be trains every three minutes from Gosvenor to Silver Spring and every six minutes from Silver Spring to Glenmont and from Grosvenor to Shady Grove. (Save $1.3 million)
- Reduce seasonal service to bring it in line with actual service needs on the day after Thanksgiving and the week between Christmas and New Years Day. Additionally, run a holiday schedule on Martin Luther King Day, Presidents Day Columbus Day and Veterans Day (Save $140,000)
- NO to: Closing entrances at 8 pm, closing stations on weekends
- NO to: Longer headways, eliminating 8-car trains
- NO to: Reduce Yellow Line service nights and weekends to a shuttle, eliminating Yellow Line to Fort Totten
- NO to: Later system opening
- NO to: Earlier system closing
- Raise daily parking rates by $1.15 (Adds $13 million in revenue)
- Raise reserved parking fees from $55 to $65 per month (Adds $600,000)
- Expand the hours during which Metro charges for parking to 24 hours a day Monday through Friday. (Adds $500,000)
- Adjust the rates for parking meters in order to promote full utilization at most Metrorail stations. (Increases revenue)
- Raise regular service boarding charge 20% from $1.25 to $1.50. Cash fares will rise from $1.35 to $1.60. (Adds $11 million)
- Institute a peak period, directional boarding charge on Metrobus. (Financial impact undetermined)
- Raise express service boarding charge 29% from $3 to $4. Cash fares will rise from $3.10 to $4.10. (Adds $2 million)
- Raise boarding charge on bus shuttles (5A, B30) to Dulles International Airport and BWI-Thurgood Marshall Airport 94% from $3.10 to $6. (Adds $1.2 million in revenue)
- Raise the weekly flash pass price 36% from $11 to $15 (Adds $6 million)
Metrobus fares continued:
- Increase the rail-to-bus transfer discount to 75 cents (Reduces revenue $2.9 million) (The reason for this is that big bus and rail increases hit combination riders especially hard; increasing the discount mitigates this unfairness.)
- Undecided: Reduce bus-to-bus and rail-to-bus transfer from 3 hours to 2 hours. (WMATA's estimates for ridership loss are very high; on the other hand, they might be incorrect. It makes sense in theory, but not if the ridership loss would be as great as they estimate.)
Metrobus service changes:
- Restructure service on select routes and lines (Save $2.63 million) (I believe these are cuts in Craig's "group 1", which are relatively tolerable.)
- Eliminate overlap with local service (Save $2.16 million)
- Reduce service on four holidays: Martin Luther King Day, Presidents Day, Columbus Day, and Veterans Day (Save $2 million)
- Reduce seasonal service to bring it in line with actual service needs for the day after Thanksgiving and the week between Christmas and New Years Day. (Save $670,000)
- Reduce Christmas/New Years seasonal service (Save $670,000)
- Reduce bus stops on select lines (Save $1.04 million) (Some think the savings is even more, actually, because this assumes a ridership loss that might not actually happen)
- NO to: Longer headways, eliminate routes, segments or lines
- NO to: Reduce weekend late night service
- Increase fare to twice the fixed route fare for the fastest trip, as determined by the Metro Trip Planner. The Metro Trip Planner may determine that the fastest trip is by bus, rail, or a combination of the two. (Adds $4.6 million)
- Restrict Metro access service area to 3/4 mile from available fixed route service. Restrict customers who are elegible for full paratransit service from the free ride program on Metrobus and Metrorail. (Saves $5.4 million) (I'd add that individual jurisdictions should be free, and in fact encouraged, to make additional contributions for persons with disabilities living outside the 3/4 mile range to have paratransit service. But jurisdictions should pay for that instead of forcing a choice between offering paratransit service and fixed-route service.)
- Charge up to 50 cents more for the use of paper farecards on Metrorail. Twenty-five cents for trips costing up to $2.50 and 50 cents for trips more than $2.50. (Adds $9 million)
- Allow the general manager to institute a special fare of no more than 5 times the normal rate for fares and passes on bus and rail, and charge up to $25 for parking for special events such as presidential inaugurations, other historic or political events, major sporting or entertainment events, and to implement special emergency fares. (Financial Impact To Be Determined)
- Metro should ask local governments to increase contributions in coordination with a fare increase to avoid service cuts.
- Additional capital funds, $30 million or less, should be used for preventive maintenance, providing those funds are paid back in a later budget cycle.
- NO to: Increase bike locker annual fee to $200 (a fee increase makes sense but only if it's based on demand per-station)
If I am counting correctly, the total of all items with a dollar figure comes out to $135.21 million. Add in the $16.3 million in staffing cuts planned under the GM's budget plus a $40 million contribution from jurisdictions (which still is far from being a reality) and we get about the $190 million of the actual budget gap.
Of course, as I've argued before, jurisdictions should actually contribute even more, to stave off these service cuts and the most painful of the fare increases. A fare increase at this level will definitely hurt many lower-income riders, and local governments should spread the responsibility out among riders and non-riders who also benefit greatly from the reduced traffic and increased economic activity from good transit.
What did you say on the survey?
- Young kids try to assault me while biking
- Metro bag searches aren't always optional
- Focus transportation on downtown or neighborhoods?
- Endless zoning update delay hurts homeowners
- DDOT agrees to repave 15th Street cycle track
- Redeveloping McMillan is the only way to save it
- Vienna Metro town center won't have a town center