At MARTA, lost service = lost revenue = lost service…

15 Dec

From the AJC: A little more than two months after the fare increases and service reductions were put in place, MARTA reported that the changes have caused  loss of ridership.

Well, yeah.

“Although ridership can vary seasonally, that doesn’t appear to be the problem. Comparing October of this year with October of last year brings the same result, a decline. MARTA passengers took 670,000 fewer bus trips this October than last October, and 131,000 fewer train trips. That’s a decline of 11 percent of bus ridership and 1.9 percent of train ridership”

The difference between the ridership loss on the buses and on the trains is pretty interesting. In MARTA’s service area people who use the buses are less likely to be “choice riders” than those who ride the trains. Of course, many people do both, which complicates the matter further. But something happened to those 670,000 trips. Either they didn’t get made or those riders found (or created) another way to make them.

I have to admit to being the source of a few of those missing train trips. I rarely leave work before six, so by the time I walk to the station rush hour service is over and the trains are back to at least 15-minute headways. If I get there and find that I’m going to be waiting at least ten minutes for a train, I’ll usually just walk the rest of the way home.

The walk from Five Points to my apartment is about 25 minutes, which is often less than the combined total of train-wait time, the ride from Five Points to Civic Center and the 11-minute walk from Civic Center to my apartment.  I’m now walking home from work at least three days every week whereas I was riding the train at least four days per week during the spring and summer. But I buy a monthly pass, so it’s not as if my decision to walk is depriving MARTA of any revenue. My reduced use of their escalators and fare gates could even be thought of as saving them money.

Now if only those unused trips would “roll over” like unused cellphone minutes.

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