Monday, October 20, 2008

Creativity Helps Rochester's Transit System Turn a Profit

Although its been more than a month since this article first appeard in the New York Tmes but my thoughts keep returning to it.

It describes an aggressive effort on the part of Rochester to make its bus system pay for itself. Like many transit systems around the United States, the collection of bus fares doesn't cover operational costs. What makes Rochester different, according to the article, is that they have found other ways to subsidize service.

"It has, for instance, reached agreements with the local public school district, colleges and private businesses to help subsidize its operations, warning in some cases that certain routes might be cut if ridership did not increase or a local business did not help cover the cost. In recent years, income from these agreements has equaled or exceeded the income from regular passenger fares.

All the while, ridership has increased by 7.4 percent over the last two years in an area where the population has remained stable. And while only about 1 out of 6 customers pays the single-ride fare (the majority use daily, weekly or monthly passes), the transit service expects further ridership gains now with the fare cut in place."

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