Transportation headlines, Thursday/Stanley Cup Parade Day, June 14

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

If you somehow need help getting jacked for the Kings parade at noon today, here is some awesome video of the last minute of Game 6 on Monday night and the Kings celebrating their Stanley Cup win. Hat tip:

CTA strikes deal with Groupon (CTA news release)

The Chicago Transit Authority will begin offering discounted three-day passes through the popular Groupon website/coupon service. Groupon members will be able to buy a $14 pass for $9 and the CTA says it will make about $1.8 million in revenue by selling 250,000 passes to Groupon. Clever!

Apple drops transit directions from mobile devices (L.A. Streetsblog)

New software for the iPhone is debuting this fall with a big change: the maps app that comes with the phone will no longer rely on data from Google. Instead, Apple is producing its own map app and it will apparently — unlike the Google maps — provide transit directions. This has a lot of folks bent out of shape as they consider transit directions something that will help promote the use of transit. Probably so. But there are other apps that provide transit directions (such as the Go Metro app) and it’s easy enough to visit Google Transit on your phone’s web browser. From a practical standpoint, I always found that getting transit directions on my iPhone 3GS to be an interminable process when not on a wi-fi network. Am I missing something here? Explain, readers.

The heat is on: U.S. temperature trends (New York Times)

The group Climate Central has produced an interactive map that shows the rate of the average temperature increase in each of the 50 state for the past 40 years. California is the 41st fastest warming state with an increase of .314 degrees Fahrenheit per decade during that span. The Great Lakes region, New England and parts of the Southwest seem to be heating up quicker than the rest of the country. As many of you know, greenhouse gases from many sources — including transportation — are the culprit behind global warming. Generally speaking, transit produces fewer greenhouse gases per mile than people driving alone — although transit needs healthy ridership to do that.


17 replies

  1. CTA makes $1.8 million in extra revenue for selling 3 day passes for $9 as opposed to $14

    Metro saw huge increase in ridership and made more revenue when they reduced the day pass from $6 to $5.
    “Monthly sales grew from 260,000 units to 400,000 and revenue grew from $1.65 million to $2.35 million”

    Take a hint: cheaper fares actually help boost ridership AND bring in more revenues.

  2. I think what Steven P pointed out settles the dispute if cheaper distance fares would actually help or not.

    Cheaper fares do encourage more ridership and help boost revenues to help transit agencies. I think it’s time we really need to start implementing this strategy than continuing to rely on more taxes.

    There is a rationale why transit agencies in Asia opt to use the more confusing distance fare system, but if it has the net effect of making them less reliant on taxes and making them more self sufficient and with the benefit for making shorter distances cheaper for the transit rider, it’s worth doing.

  3. “Take a hint: cheaper fares actually help boost ridership AND bring in more revenues.”

    Nope. The naysayers who love taxes, taxes, and more taxes and would end up saying “that doesn’t prove anything! There needs to be more studies! We don’t like that idea! Just tax everyone more from their paychecks, they can afford it! Blah-blah-blah.”

    Basically, they are no different from those anti-subway people in Beverly Hills who don’t want the subway under their school. They’ll come back with the lame “more studies” excuse as a means to put their point across.

  4. Breaking news about light rail in Bellevue/Seattle. Sound familiar?

    “Just as Bellevue and Sound Transit are approaching agreement on ways to cut costs on the planned light-rail line between Interstate 90 and downtown Bellevue, two citizens groups have gone to court to try to block that route.

    Building a Better Bellevue and Friends of Enatai claim in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court that the federal government’s approval of the route violates federal environmental law and a law intended to protect parks and historic sites.”

  5. Steve P point regarding the lower of the day pass increasing ridership according to Metro is not direct correlation. If one were to read the report that Steve posted, Metro states that rolling weekly and monthly passes were introduced into the system the same time the day pass was dropped to 5 dollars. So a more detailed study needs to be done in order determine whether the increase in ridership was due to the reduction in the day pass or the convenience of non calender monthly passes or weekly passes.

  6. one more thing the extra revenue the CTA is receiving is due to the agency selling mass amounts of 3 day passes to Groupon which passed the savings on to the Groupon members since they bought the passes in bulk. Metro does the same thing with some private companies and schools who purchase large amounts of monthly passes from the agency to give to their employees/students effectively reducing the price of the monthly pass for them. The revenue is not from lower the fare though.

  7. “So a more detailed study needs to be done…”

    Like I said, no different than the people at Beverly Hills.

  8. Actually over the years cheaper fares have proven to result in lower farebox recovery and thus more operating subsidies from the public. It happened in the mid-80s when Prop A money was used to lower fares for a few years. Remember those 50 cent fares? Yes, ridership went up, but passengers were paying much less and revenue did not keep up.

    If lower fares resulted in a higher farebox recovery then when Metro keeps the same fares for a long period of time, one would expect farebox recovery to rise as inflation makes those fares less and less expensive. Yet, the opposite happens and when Metro has raised fares in the past, farebox recovery goes up.

    The same occurs at Metrolink, which by law must maintain 50% farebox recovery. When they keep fares the same, the farebox recovery drifts lower and they have to raise them to keep to the 50%. San Francisco, New York, and Washington, all have higher fares than Metro, but also have higher recovery ratios.

    Others will say distanced based fares are the panacea that Metro needs to adopt and all of our problems will be solved. After all, those successful transit agencies in Asia use them and are profitable. Of course, distanced based fares really have little to do with fact given the completely different planning and transportation policies in those countries and the fact that those Asian agencies are private quasi real estate development companies, which would never be allowed in the US under our Constitution.

    Sure, I would love 5 cent fares and no tax subsidies to operate transit. Is that realistic? No, of course not. The Groupon deal is hardly comparable to a general fare reduction. Also, that revenue number they show didn’t take into account lost sales through their normal channels. People like Frank M. rant and rave on every other Source post but offer little in the way of true analysis other than “Asian transit agencies are profitable”.

  9. Matt really breaks it down perfectly.

    Here’s a good recent article about some of the things that do and do not affect ridership. These researchers found that, on a global scale, subsidizing fares does not generally increase ridership (implying lower fares and also implying lower revenues). They did find that expanding the network did increase ridership slightly, but the best way to increase transit ridership is to regulate private autos. I think we have a big problem with a gas tax that is too low, parking minimums and other policies that encourage car ownership beyond the market equilibrium.

    That being said, I do think that *if* you had 100% farebox recovery, lowering fares *might* increase revenue, but that would require a detailed analysis to figure out.

    On the other hand, I do think Frank M has good things to say on increasing competition in transit.

  10. “private quasi real estate development companies, which would never be allowed in the US under our Constitution.”

    Where exactly does the US Constitution does it state that private transportation cannot buy real estate? Please cite the exact quote and wording in it as there is no wording in the US Constitution that prohibits private companies from owning real estate. If everything was owned by the government and if everything were state owned enterprise, then we’d be Communist. We are not.

    Greyhound owns all their bus terminals. Cab companies own their own call centers at their own offices that they own. Car rental companies buy real estate to have rental car areas. US airlines are able to bid, buy, and hold stakes in airport terminals all over the US to create major hubs. Car manufacturers, along with auto dealers, operate repair and service shops. When Union Pacific were handling passengers back in the Golden Ages, they built and owned all the train stations and maintenance facilities.

    Oh here’s a surprise for you. Even our old P&E Railways, once the pride of LA, were built by a real estate tycoon. What a shocker.

  11. “It happened in the mid-80s when Prop A money was used to lower fares for a few years. Remember those 50 cent fares? Yes, ridership went up, but passengers were paying much less and revenue did not keep up.”

    Yes and that time they also made the same mistake of still keeping flat rate fares.

    We tried lowering fares to 50 cents but kept it flat. Didn’t work. Duh, doesn’t take a genius to figure out that.

    We tried highering fares to $1.50 but kept it flat. Doesn’t work either. Duh, doesn’t take a genius to figure this out either.

    Yet, we never tried the most logical variable distance based fares and we dismiss it, even though every successful transit agency in Asia runs on them. Duh, and you wonder why people call government stupid.

    And yet, we also make it illegal for any private transit to take shape to compete with inefficient government run transit. If we can let Toyota Inc. can compete with General Motors Inc., why can’t we let JR establish a JR So Cal, Inc. to compete with LACMTA? Why can’t HKMTR So Cal Inc. go head to head with the Montebello Transit?

    Why do we let politicians run the board instead of bringing aboard highly qualified transit officials from cities that get transit right?

    It’s really simple. The cold hard fact is: LA will never, ever get transit right, and it will forever be a tax sucker unless real change happens. Change needs to happen and the changes that are needed will have to be things that tax loving socialists do not want because of lame excuses.

  12. Read up on the CTA’s Yellow Line (a.k.a. Skokie Swift). They’ve been talking about extending it to Old Orchard Mall for decades, and now they’re getting grief from Niles North High School. At least the Purple Line is underground — BHHS ought to feel lucky.

  13. Frank M.

    Metrolink has distanced based fares. I assume you think they have a perfect system since you think that is Metro’s main problem and that seems to be your answer for every issue? How come they need tax subsidies too? How is it their services are so much less popular than Metro’s? Don’t say they need to just lower their fares since we have proven year after year that isn’t the answer. Plea explain.

  14. Wasteful spending, those examples like Greyhound owns it own bus terminals, are not similar to an agency using eminent domain to take houses and businesses and then build a Metro line and then develop the now more valuable land into shopping malls and condos for a huge profit. Metro, by law cannot take land that is not used for transit purposes. You are missing the point and are off on a tangent.