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A small uptick in the gas tax should do it. $.40 a gallon or so.

Even if the funding doesn't go to transit, it will still help ridership. Transit and autos are substitute products. Since road use dominates modal share by a large amount, it wouldn't take much of a shift from auto users to double transit share.

Alon Levy

How much snark is appropriate concerning the fact that Kilcoyne says nothing about consultant fees making everything expensive or about FRA compliance?


It would be nice if this post had been written in English, rather than a mix of transit/govt gobbledegook.

While I'm sure it's vitally important, I struggled to understand his arguments, as the language is almost impenetrable to native English speakers (and I shudder to think what non-English speakers would make of this)

Joseph E

Ugh, per capita service hours? The only people who care about service hours are bus driver unions.

Riders don't know or care how many service hours you offer. They care how frequently the bus or train comes at their stop, and how quickly, reliably and comfortably they can get to their destination.

If average bus speeds go down 10% due to increased traffic congestion, service hours on that route have to go up 10% to maintain the exact same frequency of service. But riders won't think the service is better, for them it will be 10% worse!

With modern modeling and scheduling systems like Google Maps now available for free, and real-time vehicle information now becoming standard, couldn't we require transit agencies to improve access or mobility or reliability by 5%? That would be much better for transit riders. It would also encourage every transit agency to offer real-time bus tracking, which would be a big service improvement with no operating cost!

Angel Morse

"We absolutely need to grow transit ridership."

Could not agree more. How much money could we save if we did not have to fight wars for oil?


Joseph, I wouldn't get too excited about the reported improvements from real-time bus tracking.

All it does is let you know where a bus happens to be at any given point in time. It won't help it get to your stop more quickly.

Bus tracking doesn't yet differentiate between delays out of an agency's hands (congestion) or manageable conditions (goldbricking drivers).

Real-time bus tracking is only as good as the transit system's management.

Chris Stefan

While real time bus tracking can let an agency plan schedules and routes better, the real win as far as I see it is in being able to provide real-time arrival information to riders. Knowing when the next bus is coming makes the wait much less stressful.

Doug Allen

Kilcoyne gets it half right with his suggestion that smaller US districts should be allowed to use formula funds for operations.

The correct solution is to allow any US transit district to use formula funds for operations, and for the US Government to provide only formula funds, not competitive grants or earmarks. The same should be true of highway funds -- the only requirement should be that highway money can also be used for transit.

The trick is then to design a good formula that discourages substituting federal money for local transit support, and that encourages increasing ridership.

I have seen no evidence that any US Federal requirements other than the National Environmental Policy Act provide any net positive incentive for the wise investment of transit dollars. I am sure many local transit districts might waste more money if it were deregulated, but on the whole, Richard Nixon-style revenue sharing based on block grants to States by formula seems to me to be the wisest approach overall.

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