While the public comment period for the Budget and fare proposals is officially closed – the Board itself will not come to a final decision for around 60 days.
For those 60 days, I will continue to make my voice heard in the “public court” and hope that my readership (and the ridership) will continue to amplify this simple 2 point message:
The fare structure instituted in March 2010 was wrong.
The fare structure needs to be changed in a way that is equitable.
This is a continuation of an address aimed at the Board as a follow up on the meeting proceedings which can be heard here.
The part of this recording that I’m going to address is the numbers given on the paratransit ridership presented to the Board (from the 14:28 minute mark through 14:35 minutes).
It rocked me back a bit when I heard that Access is now being priced at $50.00 a trip!
In 1999 the trip cost was $26.20 and in 2005, WMATA’s press releases relayed a cost of $35.00. Even adjusting for inflation that would bring the costs for these two historical points in time to $35.80 and $40.80.
As an aside- I have an MBA and one of my undergrads is in economics (econometrics) – and, as I stated in a previous post, cost per trip is NOT a very good performance measure.
So – I spent last weekend looking at the Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFR). The last page of the latest report for fiscal year ending June 30, 2011, Operating Indicators, is highly interesting.
Upfront let me say this: In checking with Metro staff on these performance numbers I was told that the numbers pre 2006 should be considered “to be of dubious quality” and YET the Operating Indicators numbers listed as 2004-2010 in the 2011 report are the same numbers that are published in each of the financials for each corresponding year’s CAFR Access Operating Indicators going back to 2004 (the earliest year of CAFR available on the WMATA website). Since CAFR are financial statements that are vetted and auditted by independent CPAs it would stand to reason that the numbers included in such reports are reasonable and accurate. It is up to the reader to judge: question the numbers based on current Metro staff’s distrust or trust the numbers from prior years as properly certified by independent accounting auditors.
Previously I talked to you about service efficiency in terms of time.
The Performance Measures~
I took 3 of the performance indicators: vehicle revenue miles, passenger miles traveled and passenger trips and examined them over the periods given.
Revenue miles begin with the first customer pick-up and end with the last customer drop-off during a vehicle’s shift.
Passenger miles traveled are the miles for passengers trips. If there are two passengers on a vehicle and each are going on a 12 mile trip, 24 passenger miles are being traveled.
A trip is a completed singular (or unlinked) trip.
The performance measements:
Revenue Miles/trip – how many miles did the vehicle travel for per passenger trip carried
Passenger Miles/trip - how far were the passengers actually travelling
Here is what the data look like:
(For those of my readers who are blind-I have included the tables of numbers used to create the graphs at the bottom of this post)
The 2011 numbers are marked as “*Preliminary Data” in the report – but even as preliminary -the numbers would have to be MUCH higher to affect the trend.
So – what are we looking at here?
The blue line are the vehicles driving around. Ideally they are driving around with more than one passenger that are matched up more or less evenly in a logical pickup and drop off sequence.
To give an example:
Two people are riding in a vehicle, both traveling 12 miles between the same two places.
- Total revenue miles = 12
- Revenue mile per trip= 6 (12 revenue miles divided by 2 trips)
The red line are the passenger trips.
In the example :
- Total passenger miles= 24
- Passenger miles per trip = 12 (24 passenger miles divided by 2 trips)
In an ideal world – the miles of passenger trips SHOULD BE at least equal to the revenue miles.
If we are being efficient the blue line will be BELOW the red line (the revenue miles will be LESS than the passenger miles).
Now go look at the graph again.
What do you see?
You see what any Access passenger or driver can tell you – since 2009 vehicles are driving all over the place randomly, taking people on non-sensical grand tours (for the sake of keeping the vehicle “full”), drivers are being re-routed from geographically distant locations such as Fort Washington to make pickups in Bowie, and all other kinds of counter-productive behavior.
What you don’t see but what anyone you rides on Access, drives for Access or is at a regular drop-off/pick-up Access location can tell you:
- Vans make trips having only one ambulatory rider as a passenger.
- Multiple vehicles arrive to pickup the same passenger. (This happens to me 3-4 times a year for non-subscription trip rides. )
- Vans had bench seats removed to accommodate multiple wheelchair pickups – yet many are being used primarily as ambulatory pickup vehicles.
I’m not a transit expert. But the following seems to be common sense to me:
- Schedule vans for those whose mobility needs require them
- Schedule sedan cars for those who do not need vans (vans cost more to run than sedans)
- Avoid running drivers from one end of the D/M/V to the other and back again
- Zone drivers where possible – keep the same drivers in the same zones so they become familiar with their areas (The Rangers break down, each area has its own traffic patterns and “short cuts” during high traffic times)
- Create zone spanner positions for the passengers that are riding between zones
- Pre-position vehicles in their zones before rush hour times trap vehicles in slow spots
In the case of right sizing vehicles the argument has always been “we don’t always know what kind of vehicle to send.”
Metro has a whole packet of information from me on my medical condition signed by my doctor. You ASKED what mobility aids I have. You KNOW I use a powered wheelchair and have even recertified what size it is. Further it is on the web-screen where I make my reservation.
It is a cop-out to say Access reservationists don’t know what vehicle to send for a given rider.
You know what? On the off-chance that Access still can’t figure it out: ASK.
I would bet you’ll get better answers than what you’ve been getting by guessing (looking at the numbers).
We can be smarter about this.
We have data that shows it can be done.
We have the data to get it done.
We just need someone in a leadership position to say “make it so.”
Access contributions to the bottom line of the Metro budget are more appropriately cost-reduction based.
Cost containment by right size and right placement of vehicles is another way costs can be controlled without harming riders through raising fares and using the “random fare calculator”.
|Fiscal Year||Passenger Miles Traveled||Annual Passenger Unlinked Trips|
2011 numbers are marked as “*Preliminary Data”
|Fiscal Year||Annual Vehicle Revenue Miles||Annual Passenger Unlinked Trips|
2011 numbers are marked as “*Preliminary Data”
|Fiscal Year||Revenue Miles/Trip||Passenger Miles/Trip|
iRed indicates inefficient years (vehicle miles exceed passenger miles).
eBlue indicates efficient years (passenger miles exceed vehicle miles).
*2011 numbers are marked as “Preliminary Data”