Human Transit Takes Exception to OPAL’s Strategy

Jarrett has an interesting take on what benefits transit riders who are cash-poor, time-poor or both.


12 responses to “Human Transit Takes Exception to OPAL’s Strategy”

  1. I think that clearly, we should be looking to both increase the ticket’s usefulness by extending transfer times and increase service. I don’t think this HAS to be an either-or game. Both of these topics will be benefits to riders, perhaps some of this would be made up at the farebox

  2. I briefly read and appreciated ‘some’ points Jarrett made. However, I have specific objections to his views on pedestrian travel which affect his determinations/proclamations on transit design generally. Which bus model replacements reduce emissions practically, ride most comfortably, incur fewer accidents? I’m saying total low-floor, multi-door, 30′-35′ hybrids with battery packs in the floor, lower center of gravity.

    THAT BUS is what OPAL and the rest of us want and need. What routes could get that bus? How does the pedestrian element affect the chosen route? I’m not sure Jarrett is spot on with the pedestrian element. Sorry.

  3. Jarret’s point was that, given a fixed amount of funding, it IS an either-or situation. Either you use that money on frequency, or you use it to increase the individual fare time. I suppose you could increase frequency on a few routes, and only increase the time from 120 minutes to 135 minutes, but if the demand is for a 3-hour ticket time, that pretty much seems to exclude a lot of other stuff also being done.

  4. It’s worth noting that OPAL’s framing attempts to sidestep the ‘zero-sum’ issue that Jarrett raises. OPAL contends that fares are sufficiently high that they are driving away a segment of ridership. Extending the transfer time would make fares more cost effective and increase revenue from returning ridership.

    • Similar arguments can be made about frequency, of course–make the product more attractive, you’ll get more buyers at the same price.

      As a commenter at HT points out, a BETTER solution might be for subsidies for the poor to come from other sources than TriMet’s budget. (Or simply increase general transfer payments to the poor, which they can spend as they like).

  5. OPAL is simply wrong that it is not a tradeoff. Elasticity of transit demand with respect to price is less than 1 according to every study ever done on the subject (it’s usually found to be 0.3). That means that you may get a ridership boost from cutting fares, but total revenue will always go down because the ridership boost is not enough to make up for the loss of fares per ride. Now, there is always a debate to be had about the level of fares that we want, but it is an either/or, zero-sum game.

    • And the transit-dependent (a bad term, I know) are those–by definition–that have a low elasticity of demand. Generally, the poor are already economizing their trips.

  6. Which new bus model replacements reduce emissions practically,
    ride most comfortably, incur fewer accidents?

    Well? Totally low-floor, multi-door, 30?-35? HYBRID, the battery packs below floor for
    low center of gravity; quick charge; clean fuels. THAT BUS is what OPAL and the rest of us want and need. What routes could get that bus? How does the pedestrian element affect the chosen route?

    (This bus might best fit on a hillclimb and overly-circuitous routes, hmm, pedestrian, hmm)

    • Wells,

      A 30 or even 35 foot bus is not a good use of driver time. If there are routes which can never in the day fill a 40 foot bus they should be served by some sort of paratransit. Uber, Dial-a-ride, Taxis, whatever. But not fixed route transit.

      • Nothing necessarily wrong with 30-35′ busses; many transit agencies use them exclusively. TriMet has a few in their inventory, mainly for routes like Washington Park where a longer bus may have trouble navigating the curves (though I don’t think they’ve bought any new 30′ models in a while), I occasionally see them on other routes.

        But keeping the fleet variations to a minimum is beneficial; thus TriMet’s mainstay will likely be the 40′ bus. BRT may change this in the future.

        I’m not sure what the choice of rolling stock has to do with the topic of this thread, though. TriMet saves very little on 30′ vehicles vs 40′ ones, And the power source (direct-drive diesel, hybrid, electric, CNG, whatever) is largely orthogonal to the vehicle size–if anything larger vehicles make hybrids and battery-driven electrics more practical–there’s more room to put the necessary equipment. Railroad locomotives, after all, have been mostly hybrids (specifically diesel-electric serial hybrids) for years–in that application, there is plenty of room and the extra weight is not a problem.

        • Scotty,

          I can see that pre-Max there needed to be a bus to Washington Park. But why now? People can take the Max much more quickly and comfortably.

  7. That bus serves the many destinations between MAX and the Rose Garden, especially now that the Zoo Train is being rebuilt.

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