Podcast: Metro’s $5.5 billion budget

Our latest podcast features yours truly interviewing Drew Phillips, a budget officer with Metro. We try to explain where Metro gets its money and how the money is spent and look at some of the ongoing and future challenges for the agency.

Metro also held a budget forum for the public on Saturday. Here’s the presentation from the forum:

If you would like to watch the forum online, please see this post.

6 replies

  1. Metro needs to start buying lighter weight buses that have fewer seats so that more passengers can be loaded without exceeding the maximum allowable weight per axle. The 60-foot buses that Metro uses have 57-seats. That is the longest bus which can be legally used. To handle more passengers there needs to be no more than 29-31 seats on a 60-foot bus so that there is also better ingress, egress to decrease dwell times and each bus can carry more passengers. Metro seems to keep making the same mistake of purchasing buses that are packed with as many seats as they can get. If Metro wants to increase the proportion of ticket revenue versus operating cost then get buses that have less seats to increase the amount of boarding’s on busy lines without adding more operating hours.

    Look at the interior standing room on this Van Hool 60-foot Exquicity transit bus that has probably 29-seats and compare that to the narrow aisle with the seating arrangement on Metro buses.

    http://www.scania.com/Images/P14X03EN_Scania_Van_Hool_ExquiCity_gas_tcm40-448573.pdf

    The driver safety is greatly increased on the Exquicity bus by having the drivers area secured by a door much like it is on transit trains. That’s another feature that should be included on Metro buses that do not accept cash payment such as the Orange Line.

    There should also be on-board Tap card readers instead of everyone having to get in a single file to board the front door.

    Here’s some other photos of transit buses in Paris that have much more open space than the buses that Metro uses and they also have card readers onboard.

    Another article about on-board payment for buses in Paris.

    Metro is falling way behind in best practices for buses on busy corridors. To increase the amount of users and improve the bottom line Metro needs to make changes in the seating arrangement and how people board buses.

    • I left out the photos of buses in Paris.

      http://www.humantransit.org/2010/07/paris-converging-vehicles.html

      http://www.humantransit.org/2010/07/paris-converging-vehicles-contd.html

      Metro needs to demand different bus designs than what they are now purchasing. The volume of buses that Metro purchases should give them some leverage to get changes made as was the case when the 60-foot buses were purchased for the Orange Line. Since there are now only three major transit bus manufacturers for the U.S. market, Metro may have to try and go outside the U.S. market to get the types of buses that they need. The transit trains that Metro purchases are designed for the Asian and European markets. That needs to happen with the bus purchases also.

      The biggest problem of not being able to handle more passengers on the 60-foot buses that Metro uses is not that these buses are not long enough, its that they have far too many seats to handle the passenger demand. There needs to be a change in mentality that the buses should be packed with lots of seats. The most important part of using a bus for passengers is getting on the bus, not how many seats there are.

      • Agreed. Less seats, more wider aisle (standing) space. Then Metro wouldn’t need to purchase new longer buses, they can just modify the interior of the buses they currently have.

        The average Metro bus rider travels only 3 miles, quoted directly by Metro CEO Art Leahy himself in a recent Metro Board Meeting “Metro CEO Art Leahy noted that Metro’s average bus trip is three miles long”
        http://la.streetsblog.org/2015/03/30/apta-metro-review-raise-fares-consolidate-service-charge-for-parking/

        You don’t need a seat for everyone when the an average bus trip is only 3 miles. More seats just add to more interior congestion anyway with people trying to stand up, sit down, and trying to make their way to the exit and everyone playing musical chairs, especially in the most crowded lines.

        Seats should be kept to a minimum and be reserved mainly for the elderly, disabled, and pregnant. Everyone else is healthy enough to stand for 3 miles.

        Compare and contrast the interior seat alignments of Korean and Japanese buses and Metro buses and you can tell which one figured out that less seats are better long ago:

        http://i.imgur.com/jNH6ryl.jpg
        http://i.imgur.com/IyW5NOf.jpg
        http://i.imgur.com/09B5e9E.jpg

        • While less seats, more standees may sound like a good idea for the MTA it was tried and was a failure. Approx. one year after taking delivery those buses with single seats on one side were converted to the typical configuration.

          Per Calif. Vehicle Code no vehicle can be longer than 60 feet except when a permit is issued for a over sized load and then said vehicle must be escorted.

      • “Agreed. Less seats, more wider aisle (standing) space. Then Metro wouldn’t need to purchase new longer buses, they can just modify the interior of the buses they currently have.”

        “While less seats, more standees may sound like a good idea for the MTA it was tried and was a failure. Approx. one year after taking delivery those buses with single seats on one side were converted to the typical configuration.”

        Caveat: Buses in Japan run on distance based fares so less seats and more aisle space makes sense for them.

        Under a flat rate fare system, riders are encouraged to take longer trips hence the need for more seats. If a fare system is designed in a way that it costs the same price whether you ride 3 blocks or 10 miles, the rider is encourage to make the “most bang-for-the-buck” by taking 10 mile rides than just using it for 3 blocks. Naturally, standing for 10 miles is too harsh, so adding in more seats make sense under a flat rate system.

        Under a distance based fare system like Japan, where prices are cheaper for shorter trips and more for longer ones, riders are encouraged to take shorter trips hence the bus is configured for more standing space to ease the flow of multiple hop-ons and hop-offs. A transit agency (or corporation in Japan), does not need to offer seat space for someone who is making a trip only few miles (sorry, kilometers; the rest of the world uses metric) who can otherwise can stand. The only need for seats are for the elderly, the disabled, and the pregnant, as it is societal norm in Japan.

  2. The MTA is not even considering a way to relieve the 24/7 grid lock on Highway 2, Santa Monica Bl. But lets build another rail line to no where. The only traffic jams are caused by rabbits running across the roadway