Our Strong Transit System
September 29, 2009 3:21 PM
I was reading my latest copy of Metro Magazine ("Serving bus and rail transit and motor coach operations since 1904." I am nothing if not a widely read guy) when I came across two interesting points.
Among the nation's 100 largest transit agencies (Madison's ranks 80th), nearly 90% have had to raise fares or cut service in the last year and many did both. So, our fare increase in April was not at all unusual.
What is unusual is that we didn't just raise fares and maintain service or cut it. We actually substantially increased service. In fact, the service additions that went into place in August were the most extensive in a decade.
That same page-turning issue of Metro reported that 65% of the top 100 transit operators reported that they were having difficulty providing service due to steady ridership demands and decreased funding. Not us. Our transit system is experiencing increased funding thanks to the fare increase. In fact, next year we project that passenger revenues will increase by 20% compared to 2008 before the fare increase went into effect.
Thanks to the tough but necessary budget decisions the Council and I have made, I can now say for a certainty that my 2010 budget will contain no fare increases or service cuts for the bus system. That puts us in better shape than about two-thirds of the nation. And given the important role our transit system plays in getting people to work, maintaining those increased service levels is more important then ever as we recover from the recession.