Monday, January 22, 2007

Show Me the Money

Missouri has no idea how to manage its assets.

Metro, the company which runs the public buses as well as the MetroLink trains, is facing a $28M budget shortfall for the coming year.

There are some issues towards explaining this, of course. For example, MO only chips in about $100k to the operating budget, and St. Louis County about $50M. Illinois contributes millions as well, but now stipulates the funds must be spent on our side of the river to prevent it from being a subsidy for MO.

Budget and politics aside, another problem is the fare collection. When you purchase a ticket for the train, you don't go through a turnstile. Instead, you simply board the train, and security personnel will randomly board the train and ask to see your ticket. No ticket? You're fined $75.

This would be fine if the random checks were frequent, but they're not. As the day progresses, they become increasingly rare, and are non-existent when the trains are at their most crowded. This inspires many folk to forgo paying for tickets, bolting from the train at the nearest stop if someone comes in to check.

If Metro made certain that everyone paid, I'd say their revenue from tickets could increase by at least 25%, probably more. The problem is that they built all of the stations without turnstiles or any other rational system, and now implementing such a thing would be costly.

Due to the budget shortfall, Metro will probably be cutting services. Buses will probably be the first to suffer, but I'm betting the trains won't run as often, or as early/late, either.

Blame Metro. Blame Missouri. Hey, blame whoever you want, there's more than enough incompetence in this case to go around.

1 comment:

-Murphy said...

That' awful system. There's a pretty broken down amusement park near where I went to college that sells tickets for the rides but then doesn't actually collect them. They have ticket takers, but they appear content to let you get on the only thing worthwhile if you let them see that you did, in fact, buy tickets.