The Good News at Metro
April 28, 2010 5:11 PM
Madison has one of the most extensive bus systems in the nation for a city our size. And it's very well run.
Consider these facts from my quarterly meeting the other day with Metro director Chuck Kamp:
• Bus ridership last year was up 1.4%, exactly the increase predicted after the first-in-a-decade general fare increase that went into effect a year ago.
• Preventable accidents were down 25% in the first quarter of this year and in 2009 were at a 5-year low. As a result of this good safety record in 2009, Metro received a $200,000 safety credit from its insurance company this past February.
• Metro finished 2009 by adding almost $400,000 to its reserve, just about doubling that account. Two years ago Metro's reserve had been almost completely wiped out, a major reason we needed to have a fare increase.
• First quarter overtime costs are down 14% from last year.
• Revenues from those ads you see on the exterior of busses exceeded the 2009 budget by $93,000, for a total of $393,000.
• Metro's new "commute card" which allows small business owners to provide their employees with the same discounted passes that large employers could buy previously now has 40 businesses signed up. Again, that was made possible through a marketing position funded by the fare increase.
• A pilot security program at the South Transfer Point reduced incidents there by half.
• The low income bus pass program (another result of the fare increase) continues into 2010, allowing 300 passes to be sold each month to eligible recipients for half the price of a regular pass.
A strong management team, a dedicated union and policy support from the council and I are combining to make what has long been one of the best Metro transit systems in the nation even better.