October 13, 2005

DART seeks fare solution?

Perhaps they should be seeking a fair solution instead?

Rising gas prices are prompting a growing number of North Texas commuters to park their cars in favor of buses and trains, but Dallas Area Rapid Transit is considering service cuts to help balance its budget.

Though DART ridership has increased 11 percent on its bus and light-rail lines and 18 percent on the Trinity Railway Express commuter line, the additional passengers have not helped the agency's finances.

The problem: a lower-than-expected sales tax revenue forecast for 2006 throughout the region, and increased fuel costs.

The sales tax numbers are crucial because DART gets most of its revenue from that source. The transit agency, which spends about $887,000 a day to run its buses and rail lines, recovers about 11 percent of its daily operating cost through fares.
According to DART, Route 234 attracts an average of 59 riders a day, and that translates into a subsidy of almost $24 for every passenger trip. The transit agency has pushed for those riders to form van pools, which have a subsidy of about $1 per passenger trip

In considering which bus lines to shrink or eliminate, DART weighs one route's performance against similar routes. Route 234 supporters argued to the board that the Plano-to-Irving bus service is vastly different from other express routes that run from outlying stops directly to downtown Dallas. Those routes have a goal of a $4.50 subsidy per passenger trip.

Reads like another typical case of a government involved market failure.

The only fair solution is one where the subsidy per passenger trip is $0.00 and fares cover both the cost of operations and capital. If the passengers object then they should seek out an alternative that does not include taking money from others to subsidize their choices of where to live and work.

Posted by Steve on October 13, 2005

Why am I not surprised? I'd ride the frigging train if it reached where I live (far north Dallas) and the places I need to go. The lines don't extend far enough into the suburbs. And, I'm with you - fares should cover both the cost of operation and capital. They are so unsuccessful, you'd think they had a Bush appointee running the operation.

Posted by Donna at October 13, 2005 7:24 PM
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