Hannibal Lecter wrote:
DPatel304 wrote:But energy is being exerted by the buses already regardless if people right them or not. More people riding buses that already exist and are already circulating would mean energy savings, right?
I understand that buses only start to make sense after a certain number of people are riding it, but what is that exact number? I couldn't really make sense of the numbers to figure out that number, and the article linked doesn't seem to disclose that amount either.
True, but remember that DART can't afford to carry a non-trivial number of additional riders. They lose $30+ per day per passenger. We're talking about a business model so screwed up that they've threatened to sue other transit providers to stop them from bringing them more customers.
To be perfectly clear, there's not a giant debt clock that adds $30 every time the IR passenger counters register a customer boarding a bus or train. For any given transportation network (Uber, Amtrak, DART, Southwest Airlines, etc), there's a fixed cost that goes into operating "the system" that's going to be the same whether there's 1 passenger or 1 million. There's also the variable cost, which is much more dependent on the number of passengers using the system, and the type of vehicle used - a single Uber has much lower variable costs than a bus so it makes more sense for transporting 2 people, but transporting 20 people via Uber requires ~5 cars & drivers whereas you'd still just need that one bus to move 20 people.
DART "loses money on every passenger" based on the fixed+variable costs of operating their *current* network compared to the *current* fare revenue. The extra weight of one more passenger might cost a penny worth of CNG or electricity, but they're paying $1-3 per ride. More riders would in general decrease their per-passenger losses, so long as the additional ridership isn't concentrated on the routes already operating at or near capacity (that was the issue with the exurbs - they were dumping passengers at the extremes of the system where rush-hour trains were already running full. If some non-DART member city dumped a bunch of commuters off at the East Transfer center and they all paid full fare to ride one of the usually-deserted bus routes from there, DART would probably be thrilled...)
There's also the argument that DART might more than double ridership if they doubled all their bus services (60 minute headways become 30, 30 become 15, 15 become 7.5, etc) because more folks could get where they need to go in a reasonable amount of time without having to plan their day around being at a bus stop at a given time or worrying about missing a train because the bus was late.