Tag Archives: revenue

TIA revenue estimates trimmed

17 Jun

Georgia’s fiscal economist announced this week that the Atlanta region should expect the Transportation Investment Act to generate less revenue than originally estimated for regional projects.

The one-percent sales tax that the TIA would put in place was previously expected to generate about $8 billion over the ten years for which it’s authorized, if voters approve it next year.

But Kenneth Heaghney, who prepared the estimates for the state, said that the calculations had to be adjusted to account for “a slightly worse outlook for the economy, as well as having time to do more exact work for this year’s projections,” the AJC reported.

The figure released this week was $8.5 billion – in 2011 dollars. Adjusted for inflation, the value is expected be reduced to about $7.2 billion. But only 85 percent of TIA-generated revenue will be available to spend on projects described as “regionally significant.”  The rest is allocated for local projects in the cities and counties in which it was raised. Shaving off that 15 percent leaves $6.14 billion for funding regional projects.

 Original and adjusted revenue estimates for all 12 Georgia regions are here (PDF).

This news means even more re-calibration and re-calculation for the Atlanta Regional Roundtable tasked with putting together a list of useful, affordable transit projects to go before the voters next year.

The “unconstrained list,” or “wish list” already far exceeds the original, more optimistic estimates that the one percent tax was expected to generate. The roundtable’s job is to reduce that list to one consisting of projects that the projected revenues can pay for. Now another $235 million worth of projects will have to be jettisoned.

But public officials have had to get used to getting more mileage out of less money lately.  Asked whether having less money to divvy up among projects would make the new tax a tougher sell, Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson, who heads the roundtable for the Atlanta region told the AJC “I don’t think so. I mean it’s going to be hard enough,” and said, laughing “What’s a billion dollars among friends?”

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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