Metro is currently running the same amount of bus service now as it was in 1998, nearly 25 years ago. Metro is running 6.2 million revenue service hours (RSH) after service cuts were implemented last month due to the bus operator shortage crisis.. We’ll repeat it again. Metro is running the same amount of bus service as it was in 1998. The biggest difference between now and 1998 is that Metro’s budget was only $2.8 billion dollars compared to today’s $8 billion dollar budget. Metro’s budget has grown because of two additional voter-approved sales taxes (Measure R & Measure M), increased state funding, and federal funding. AND, Metro’s buses have gotten slower.
Bottom line: With a nearly tripled budget, Metro bus service is actually worse now than it was 25 years ago.
The solution is clear: policy-makers and analysts need to be clear with the public that they understand what they are sacrificing and who they are negatively impacting by NOT prioritizing the needs of millions of trips made by people who rely on our bus system for their survival. Investing in Place is currently analyzing over 25 years of Metro budgets and bus operations with a goal of curating data to increase a shared understanding of what has been going on. Our goal is to be able to produce the tools for policymakers, partners and interested community members to understand and engage with Metro’s operations spending.
But first, we have to understand the agency’s history on bus operations funding, where it is today, and analyze what we see is being allocated in the upcoming Fiscal Year 2023 budget. We anticipate the FY23 Transit Operations budget to be presented to the Metro Board in the next few weeks.
Look out for our next post on the Metro Bus Operator Crisis.