Wednesday, September 3, 2014

CapMetro "BendiBusses" Continue to Underperform

"He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much."
Luke 16:10

"Shocking" news from CapMetro:
Austin's "MetroRapid" buses are larger and, let's be honest, nicer than your typical bus. They've got more doors, for one, which makes for faster loading and unloading. You can look up when the next one's going to arrive on your smartphone. They have Wi-Fi, too. In January, the first line debuted, the 801, running up and down North Lamar and Congress. This week, the second one started up, the 803, going from the Domain down Burnet, through downtown and down South Lamar.

The Rapid bus system is the first major transit project in Austin since the troubled rollout of the MetroRail red line several years ago.* That project was late, over budget and struggled to attract riders.

The rapid buses, however, started on time and under budget. But six months after the launch of the first rapid line, ridership in its corridor is down 16 percent from two years ago during the same period. (You can view the ridership numbers obtained by KUT below.)

[Emphasis added]
 You'll never guess why:
For one, rides on the new rapid buses cost 50 percent more.

"I think Capital Metro would agree that charging an extra fare for, you know, what's essentially just basically a bus service? You know, it's a little bit better for people, but I don't know that it's enough that if it's $1.50 instead of a dollar to ride that, I don't know that it's suddenly going to get a huge jump in ridership," says Lyndon Henry, a transportation planning consultant in Austin.

According to Jace Deloney, another local transit advocate and board member Austin’s Urban Transportation Commission, originally planners didn't want to have that price difference. "We saw that it had a huge effect, and an unforeseen effect, on ridership," Deloney says.
In other words, they charged too much for an elastic product for which there wasn't sufficient demand.  Ridership predictably fell.  But this time they know what they're doing...onward Urban Rail!!!

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