To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Friday, January 16, 2015

3 Months After Metro Fare Increase: Revenue Up 7.7%, Ridership Down 4.4%


By Joe Linton, January 16, 2015

 Metro fare revenue is up 7.7 percent comparing October through December for 2013 vs. 2014. Image via Metro presentation [PDF]

 Metro fare revenue is up 7.7 percent, comparing October through December for 2013 vs. 2014. Image via January 2015 Metro Quarterly Financial Update presentation [PDF]

Metro released its latest Quarterly Financial Update [PDF] at this week’s Finance Committee meeting. The report gives an early glance at the impacts of Metro’s mid-September 2014 fare increases.

Financially, the news is good. Comparing the second quarter, October to December, of FY2014-13 vs. FY2014-15, fare revenue is up 7.7 percent.

The picture is not all good, though. Revenue is up; ridership is down.

This week, the agency also released ridership data from December. Compiling monthly ridership data for the same second quarter three-month window as the above revenue data, Metro’s ridership is down 4.4 percent. Though the average is not particularly instructive (November and December are generally low ridership), for those three months, overall Metro system ridership dropped from 30.8 million per month in 2013 to 29.3 million in 2014. See actual monthly data compiled in this spreadsheet.

One interesting post-fare-increase trend within the data is that bus ridership is down quite a bit more than rail ridership. For October, November, and December, bus ridership dropped 5.0 percent. During the same period, rail ridership declined only 2.7 percent.

Overall, Metro buses still carry about 30 million riders per month — three-quarters of Metro ridership. Rail carries about 10 million riders per month — a quarter of overall ridership.

There are lots of overall trends that impact ridership, so it is impossible to attribute all the revenue increases and ridership declines solely to fare increases. The state is seeing upward trends in transit utilization. Metro continues to make “service changes” that amount to cuts to the bus system. Metro spokesperson Marc Littman has emphasized that other factors can impact ridership:
[I]t will take up to six months to really gauge the revenue impacts of the fare changes. And while we expect some temporary drop in ridership, you can’t tag it just to the fare changes. Gas prices today are the lowest since February 2011, the economy is picking up, they latched the gates at half the Metro Rail stations and are cracking down on fare evasion. Too many variables to draw conclusions that it’s all related to the fare changes.
Even with revenue trending upward, departing Metro CEO Art Leahy, at least as of yesterday, was still predicting an impending fiscal crisis could be only a couple years off. With such an ambitious rail expansion program, Leahy had pressed for Metro to approve three successive fare increases. His board only approved the initial 2014 increase. Leahy’s tune has changed slightly, though. Before, he was saying that “we” face a coming deficit. Yesterday, the pronoun changed to “you.”

Schiff decries proposal for high-speed rail tunnel below Angeles National Forest

Congressman calls route underneath Angeles National Forest 'implausible.'


 By Arin Mikalian, January 15, 2015

Adam Schiff

  Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) speaks at the city of Glendale's 13th annual Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide at the Alex Theatre on Thursday, April 24, 2014. This week, Schiff spoke out against a proposal for a high-speed rail system running through an underground tunnel beneath the Angeles National Forest.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) is speaking out against the proposed idea of having high-speed rail tracks run through underground tunnels beneath the Angeles National Forest to connect Palmdale and Burbank and calls the alternative a costly dead-end.

California’s High-Speed Rail Authority plans to study having a section of the rail pass through the southwestern part of the forest — known as the East Corridor — but Schiff said in a statement on Thursday the group should stick to the plan of having rails running alongside the 14 Freeway, an option that he believes would come with a lower price tag.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich has proposed consideration of the route through 35 miles of the Angeles National Forest with 18 to 20 miles of tunneling.

Schiff has worked to preserve the forest and plans to introduce legislation that would preserve the Rim of the Valley and San Gabriel Mountains as part of a new or expanded national recreation area.

“I think the environmental consequences, the public opposition and added cost to the line all makes this a very implausible alternative,” Schiff said in a phone interview on Thursday.

On Tuesday, more than 2,000 people living near the preserve rallied at a church in Lake View Terrace in opposition of a high-speed rail operating close to their homes, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“I think there’s a lack of public input in the process as the meeting the other night made clear,” Schiff said.

He added that he doesn’t believe plans to tunnel under the forest would come to fruition and that rail authority members shouldn’t even study the alternative because it would delay construction.

The authority is expected to vote on the route sometime this spring.

The high-speed rail’s overall aim is to connect Los Angeles and San Francisco by 2029.

Construction is expected to get underway sometime in 2018.