Posts Tagged ‘budget’

The Impact of Government Shutdowns on Metrorail Ridership: Budget vs Snow

February 13th, 2014 6 comments

When it comes to impacting weekday Metro ridership, meteorologists are three times more powerful than the federal government.

Many factors influence Metrorail ridership, including the weather and the status of the federal government.  As this assessment shows, extreme weather has a much bigger impact on Metrorail usage than the federal government closure for budget reasons.

In the past few months, the federal workforce was instructed to stay home for two different reasons.  The first was the failed budget negotiation that resulted in the federal government shutdown in October of 2013. (We’ll call this “shutdown closure.”)  The second was the winter weather forecast that closed federal offices in the Washington region.  (Let’s call this “snow closure.”)  These two separate government closures have had different impacts on Metrorail ridership.

First, take ridership by time of day.  The graph below shows ridership by fifteen-minute interval for three days.  The tallest, green line is the average of weekday entries.  The other two are days that the federal government was closed due to the shutdown (Oct 8, 2013) and snow (Dec 10, 2013).    Now, the purple line illustrates the ridership due to the budgetary shutdown in October 2013 and the blue line shows ridership on a federal snow day in December 2013.   The purple line (budget shutdown) is not dissimilar to the green (average), but the purple line (snow shutdown) illustrates a huge ridership drop.  Why would this be?

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Metrorail ridership on an average day and two days the federal government was shut down. October 8, 2013 was part of the budget shutdown. December 10 2013 the fed was closed due to snow.

 

We can think of a few reasons for this difference.

  • The budget shutdown only impacted SOME federal workers, i.e. those not deemed essential.  Snow, however, impacts just about everyone.
  • On snow days, area schools are often closed.  Parents who have the luxury to do so sometimes stay home to look after their children who would otherwise be in school.  Critically, parents who may be limited in child care options – many of whom are our customers - are especially vulnerable and often are forced to stay home because of the school closures.
  • Washington is gradually evolving from a federal “company town” into a “boom town of the new economy,” a new economy less reliant on the federal government.   Many of the businesses of the “new economy” were unaffected by the budget shutdown, but during extreme weather events take their cue from the federal government and give their employees the day off.  According to Dr. Stephen Fuller of GMU’s Center for Regional Analysis, the Washington region is and will be “increasingly less dependent on federal spending as the driver of job growth and income generation in the local economy.”

Next, let’s look at change in ridership by station.  Below are maps showing the change in ridership between a regular day and one of the government shutdown days:  first budget shutdown and then snow shutdown. Read more…

FY2015 Budget and Beyond

January 7th, 2014 1 comment

We want to hear from you! Interested Image for MM - Proposed Fiscal Year 2015 Annual Budgetin the FY2015 budget? Answer our survey or participate in an upcoming public meeting. Want to talk more long-term strategy? Connect on MindMixer.

We are seeking feedback from riders and offering multiple ways to comment on the proposed FY2015 budget and fare changes, as well as Metro’s Capital Improvement Program. You can participate in any or all of the following:

  • Survey: The survey includes questions about the fare changes, costs, and the benefits you will see going forward. The survey is open until 5 p.m. on February 11, 2014.
  • Public Hearings: The six public hearings will provide an opportunity for riders to give formal testimony on the docket of proposed budget actions.

Looking to get into the weeds and talk about some long(er)-term opportunities? We have started a new discussion on MindMixer to gather your ideas and thoughts about priorities and potential future changes to the balance of funding between riders and local government, continuing to allow fares to be paid in cash on Metrobus, parking, new fare options, and priorities for a down payment on Metro2025 initiatives.

Read more…

Addressing the Funding Challenge

August 1st, 2013 No comments

Like many of the nation’s transit Capital Needs through 2025iagencies, Metro must rebuild its once-new capital assets as they wear down and deteriorate after decades of use. Metro could feasibly use every penny in its capital budget for years to come just reducing its backlog of maintenance issues. Moreover, Metro also needs to ensure that the system is able to overcome the capacity constraints that come with a regional population expected to swell in both the central core and the suburbs in the years ahead. And on top of this, Metro will need to address calls for entirely new service in many areas of the region. Once Metro is rehabilitated, the system will require a stable level of investment to maintain a state of good repair as it continues to age and deteriorate. Metro estimates that $1 billion (in 2012 dollars) per year is necessary to support and maintain the existing system, even after rehabilitation. Metro 2025 will expand the core and system capacity, as well as ensure that the region’s capital investments are successful. This requires an additional $500 million, on average, in annual capital funding through 2025.

Certainly, increases in the overall size and scope of the system will also have an impact on operating costs, which would grow to some degree when new rail cars, buses, and service are put in place. These operating costs may grow in line with the proportional size of system expansion or at a lower rate, especially if increases in reliability and the increased attractiveness of transit to today’s non-riders has a disproportionate effect on ridership, mode choice, and revenues for modes that have high farebox recovery ratios today and/or where existing demand is already delivering more revenue than operating costs.

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Next Generation Communications

July 19th, 2013 No comments

A next generation communications PIDSsystem would expand current communications infrastructure to provide an integrated one-stop communications hub for the region’s transit customers. Proposed improvements will capitalize on efforts already underway to improve the functionality of the rail control software. They include the next generation of the Passenger Information Display System (PIDS), new public address systems, improved station signage, and equipping station managers with mobile devices. Bus and train information will also be integrated, with real-time information displays to well-used bus stops.

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How Does Metro’s Subsidy Allocation Work?

November 29th, 2012 No comments

Like every transit agency in the U.S., Metro receives contributions from the jurisdictions it serves to help supplement revenues from fares and other sources.  The District of Columbia, the State of Maryland and local jurisdictions in Northern Virginia have entered into a compact to fund the operation of the Metro’s buses, trains and paratransit. These compact jurisdictions have agreed to split the tab for operating costs each year using a few allocation formulas. The factors have changed over the years, reflecting changes as the rail system was built, populations shifted, and bus service was restructured.

Operating costs are those that occur every year, like a bus and train operator wages and fuel/power for buses and trains. On the other hand, capital costs occur periodically and cover investments in infrastructure, like repairing tracks and purchasing new vehicles.

So, how are the operating costs allocated among the different jurisdictions?  The first step is to take the operating costs for each mode and subtract the revenues associated with each, resulting in net operating cost.  The allocation formulas apply to net operating costs (costs minus revenues).  The remaining steps are different for each mode, illustrated in the graphic below and subsequently described in greater detail.

Simplified diagram of Metro’s subsidy allocation process

Read more…

Metro seeks public input on FY13 budget and fare proposals

February 21st, 2012 2 comments

Metro’s Board of Directors will host six public hearings in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia beginning Feb. 27, where members of the public may provide formal testimony regarding the budget and fare proposals. Members of the public may provide formal testimony regarding the budget and fare proposals, which are included in the docket of budget actions. The proposed operating and capital budgets for the next fiscal year support the critical rebuilding of the Metro system, and improving safety and reliability. The budget also provides service enhancements such as additional rush hour rail service, improved escalator maintenance, enhanced bus corridor services, increased security and continued compliance with National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations.

Preceding each of the formal public hearings, Metro will host an hour-long Open Forum with multimedia stations to engage stakeholders and solicit public input. The Open Forum will include a video presentation on Metro’s rebuilding program, tables staffed by senior Metrobus, Metrorail, MetroAccess, SmarTrip and police officials who will be available to talk with participants and answer individual questions, and a third station where computers will be made available to take an online survey regarding Metro’s priorities, as well as to submit written comments for the record.

Details and directions for transit travel to the public sessions are available on Metro’s website or via the hyperlinks below. Open forums begin at 6 p.m., followed by the public hearings at 7 p.m. The hearings will take place as follows:

Monday, Feb. 27
Bethesda Chevy Chase Regional Services Center – Hearing 569
4805 Edgemoor Lane
Bethesda, MD

Wednesday, Feb. 29
Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School Cafeteria – Hearing 570
7130 Leesburg Pike
Falls Church, VA

Thursday, March 1
Matthews Memorial Baptist Church – Hearing 571
John H. Kearney, Sr. Fellowship Hall
2616 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., SE
Washington, DC

Monday, March 5
Washington Lee High School Cafeteria – Hearing 572
1301 N Stafford St
Arlington, VA

Tuesday, March 6
St. Columba’s Episcopal Church – Hearing 573
4201 Albemarle Street, NW
Washington, DC

Wednesday, March 7
First United Methodist Church – Hearing 574
6201 Belcrest Road
Hyattsville, MD

Written statements and exhibits may be sent to the Office of the Secretary, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, 600 Fifth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001, or e-mailed to writtentestimony@wmata.com. Statements also may be faxed to 202-962-1133. Please reference the hearing number. Submissions must be received by 5 p.m. on Monday, March 12. A survey on possible options to balance the budget will be available on Metro’s website from 5p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 22 until 5 p.m. on Monday, March 12.

Additional information can be found in the press release.