Pain and Gain for Workforce Transportation
May 11, 2009 3:15 PM
This winter saw a bruising fight on Metro fare increases. Throughout the whole process, it was tagged by supporters and opponents alike (especially the opponents) as my fare increase. That was fair. I put a fare increase in my 2009 budget, fought for it through the budget process and then had to go two rounds with the Transit & Parking Commission before I finally persuaded the City Council to override the TPC. The new fares went into effect in early April.
I didn't like doing it, and I knew it would be very unpopular, but based on my analysis, I thought it was best for Metro and its customers in the long-run. That's because we were already faced with a base cash fare increase to $1.75 with corresponding changes in the rest of the fare structure just to break even. By going to $2.00, I promised we could add service, address security issues, create a new low-income rider pass and more.
Well, since I took responsibility for the bad news, it's only fair for me to claim some responsibility for the good news that comes as a result of the fare increase.
Today I'm making good on my promise to use the fare increase to add service for the first time in years. I'm endorsing a series of improvements developed by Metro staff. The service increases will be extensive; we'll be adding almost 30 hours of service.
Moreover, in this challenging economy, the improvements are mostly about workforce transportation. The improvements will make it easier for workers to get to and from their jobs all over the city.
We're restoring the popular "Route 10" which linked the Marquette and Tenney Lapham neighborhoods to the downtown and the campus during rush hours. And we're adding trips and reducing wait times at the transfer points for the afternoon Route 18. We're also adding an earlier morning trip on Route 20, more trips for Route 34 in peak periods and corridor improvements to Routes 2, 9, 14, 15 28 37 and 38.
All the route additions are on this map: http://www.cityofmadison.com/metro/2009Proposalmap.pdf. These improvements will go into effect in August after a TPC review. In addition, Metro staff report to me that early indications are that ridership has not dipped much since the fare increase went into effect, and supplies of the new low-income fare passes have been more than adequate to meet demand.
The fare increase came with plenty of pain, but now it appears that the gains will be at least as substantial as I had hoped and planned.