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Grand River Transit
#46
Yep, there was also a station on Queen Street for that railway, the Grand River Railway. It was owned by CP and they also owned the Lake Erie & Northern and ran them as one company. The book says they stopped passenger service in 1955... the Iron Horse trail is the old GRR right of way.
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#47
(11-10-2014, 11:07 AM)nms Wrote: Does anyone have a feel for how transit (trolley and bus) evolved? What was the peak density of coverage?  I would be interested to see how GRT's goal of getting every resident within X00m of a transit stop compares to historical service levels.

I think the hard part is getting the data in more than an anecdotal way. I've seen a number of histories of the streetcar system, but not much about buses beyond this overview of the various agencies and companies that ran it. Maybe a good question for the local municipal archives departments.
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#48
Traction on the Grand by John Mills is a pretty good resource. It covers all the electric railways in Waterloo and Brantford. It was recently updated and reprinted with colour photos.
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#49
I am looking for information about how GRT is funded, and I am having trouble finding/understanding it. From the business plan document published online (http://www.grt.ca/en/aboutus/grtbusinessplan.asp) it sounds as if the primary sources of funding are property taxes and fare recoveries, and that in 2010 the cost recovery ratio was 37% (which is already confusing, because that is a percentage and not a ratio). I guess I am supposed to conclude that the remaining 63% of funding came from property taxes, but then I see this asterisk:


*Net cost of service is comprised of municipal contribution towards operating costs and debt service, from property taxes, plus provincial contribution.

so now I am confused. There is some mention on page 43 of the linked PDF that the provincial share comes from gas tax funding, but I do not know the breakdown. The PDF mentions a "Working Paper 9: Financial Plan" but I have not been able to find that online.

How is GRT funded?
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#50
(11-11-2014, 07:57 PM)fakepnijjar Wrote: How is GRT funded?

Operations are funded from property taxes, fares / passes / U-pass contracts, provincial gas tax funding, and ads. You can find more information in the 2014 Region of Waterloo budget book, starting with page 177. Capital costs are from property taxes and development charges, and (I believe) some project-specific upper level contributions.
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#51
(11-11-2014, 07:57 PM)fakepnijjar Wrote: in 2010 the cost recovery ratio was 37% (which is already confusing, because that is a percentage and not a ratio).
A ratio and a percentage are actually just two different ways of representing the same thing.

When they say 37%, they are saying:
37% of the total 100% of funding comes from revenues (whatever those revenues specifically entail). 63% from regional funding.

As a ratio, you could write that as:
37:63

They are looking to achieve 50% cost recovery, which would be a ratio of:
50:50
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#52
Is there a timeline for getting to 50/50?

The launch of ION will set that ratio back again I would assume.
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#53
Depends on the contract for LRT, I would guess.
Though, it shouldn't have much of an impact. When ION starts up, they just pay ION operators instead of a greater number of bus operators. (Based on the idea that ION displaces the iXpress, and if ION has faster running time, then there will be fewer operators)
Maintenance on the vehicles is also a cost, but again, that displaces maintenance on existing buses.
Capital costs for ION are a separate account, and have no bearing on cost recovery ratio.

I think (...?) that the goal was 2017?
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#54
Public transit is a public service. We pay taxes to fund public services, including roads too (which certainly don't have 50/50 farebox recovery). Why is it that 50% farebox recovery should necessarily be a goal?
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#55
(11-11-2014, 08:43 PM)mpd618 Wrote:
(11-11-2014, 07:57 PM)fakepnijjar Wrote: How is GRT funded?

Operations are funded from property taxes, fares / passes / U-pass contracts, provincial gas tax funding, and ads. You can find more information in the 2014 Region of Waterloo budget book, starting with page 177. Capital costs are from property taxes and development charges, and (I believe) some project-specific upper level contributions.

Thanks. That's helpful.
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#56
(11-13-2014, 11:09 AM)plam Wrote: Public transit is a public service. We pay taxes to fund public services, including roads too (which certainly don't have 50/50 farebox recovery). Why is it that 50% farebox recovery should necessarily be a goal?

Because it sounds "fair" is my suspicion. I suspect the new council might revisit that goal for GRT's 2015-2018 business plan.

I'm not actually opposed to effectiveness goals for transit, but an overall farebox recovery goal is odd. There is competitive transit which is designed and able to attract high ridership, and there is transit which is mostly there to ensure most everyone has access to transit. Or rather, it's a spectrum. The two goals - ridership and coverage - are at odds when you have a fixed budget or a fixed farebox recovery target. But as a community, we have made the choice to run low ridership coverage routes in low density areas that will never be anywhere near 50% cost recovery. (For a good discussion of this theme, see the Human Transit book.)
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#57
While there are many costs associated with bus routes, is there an easier number to use, e.g. every hour of bus service, based on driver salary (maybe with fuel/maintenance), requires $X in fares to achieve 50% cost recovery? Does it help to differentiate with a number like that, if we could say that route Z, which covers a low-density, inefficient street grid, has only ever hit 10% of the $X/h needed to achieve 50% fare recovery? When do you start to say that a particular route should be getting attention, e.g. it's recovery is close to 50% and either the route should be optimized by shortening it to achieve that cost recovery, or the service should be improved enough to attract usage giving us the cost recovery?
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#58
I expect the goal to get towards a higher recovery rate is to be able to justify future expansion. Since the Province got out of subsidizing operating funding in the mid-1990s, the Region has been responsible for covering its operations.  The Ontario government reportedly recently mused about returning to funding transit operating costs, then clarified what they meant.  Either way, the conversation is starting.

Here's an interesting table of global fare box recovery rates.  The TTC is listed at 73% and GO Transit is listed at 78%.

On the subject, here is some commentary about fare box recovery rates from John McGrath.  There are were a few points that jumped out at me.

Quote:What it most resembles, actually, is the Bob Moses vision of city-building: the use of state power and private capital to transform “blighted” places. While this plan plausibly serves a place called “Finch”, it almost certainly wouldn’t serve anyone currently living there. Indeed, in most places the plan explicitly requires people to be moved out, by selling their homes or other properties to our hypothetical subway-development corporation.

This is what putting the technological cart before the city-building horse gets you: instead of building transit to serve the city we have, you’re effectively rebuilding the city to serve the transit you’ve decided you want, ex ante and for no technical reason.
(emphasis mine)

And later:


Quote:This is probably why the vast majority of the world’s transit systems don’t make a cent of profit: because we don’t want them to. Instead, we want transit to serve a bunch of different purposes, not all of them cost-effective.

The fact is that any public service that is not cost-neutral, or makes more money than it spends, will be a drain on funds for other parts of the public purse.  I agree that our public services should not turn a profit, that's what taxes are for.  Provided the Region continues towards its goal of bringing transit to every area of the region, personally, I don't mind continuing to subsidize it.
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#59
(11-14-2014, 12:13 PM)nms Wrote:
Quote:What it most resembles, actually, is the Bob Moses vision of city-building: the use of state power and private capital to transform “blighted” places. While this plan plausibly serves a place called “Finch”, it almost certainly wouldn’t serve anyone currently living there. Indeed, in most places the plan explicitly requires people to be moved out, by selling their homes or other properties to our hypothetical subway-development corporation.

This is what putting the technological cart before the city-building horse gets you: instead of building transit to serve the city we have, you’re effectively rebuilding the city to serve the transit you’ve decided you want, ex ante and for no technical reason.

This is a good observation by McGrath, but he's describing a mature metropolis building transit to meet its currently underserved need. We have an additional level of feedback to consider in WR. As a region where our population is growing very quickly on a relative basis (about 40% growth over the last 20 years, about 40% growth over the next 20) we can also build transit to shape the city we want. A mode shift to transit and to denser development over the next two decades can create permanent structural savings in infrastructure costs.

Quote:The fact is that any public service that is not cost-neutral, or makes more money than it spends, will be a drain on funds for other parts of the public purse.  I agree that our public services should not turn a profit, that's what taxes are for.  Provided the Region continues towards its goal of bringing transit to every area of the region, personally, I don't mind continuing to subsidize it.

Indeed. And if you want to grow ridership, you need to invest heavily in service improvement. Not just ION, but route additions and service frequency enhancement, and better and more welcoming vehicles and infrastructure. The impact of all of these things on ridership takes time to show up, so any period of service roll-out is one where the farebox recovery ratio is going to lag.

So if you simultaneously attempt to make progress towards a much higher farebox recovery ratio, something is going to suffer. New service rollout that might drive much higher ridership in two years is not affordable because farebox recovery ratio. Or fares must grow at a rate much higher than inflation because farebox recovery ratio. Or, in Waterloo region's case, both.

If your goal is to drastically increase transit mode share in order to save buckets of money in future road and sprawl costs, working to hit a 50/50 farebox recovery ratio means you're fighting a huge headwind.

Higher farebox recovery ratios are the product of fully-grown, mature transit networks. At best, ours is still going through an awkward puberty: gangly, not filled out, and still needing a lot of nurturing to reach its full potential. (And with more than a few pimples.)
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#60
Last night taking the bus from the Kumpf Rd to Downtown Kitchener reinforced the need for Ion for me. It took 2 hours using the 14 and 7, it usually takes about 1 hr.
The 7 at Conestoga Mall was jammed to capacity and about 15 potential passengers were left in the cold at the station. On the way down King st we had to deny passengers at several stops.

Great to see the demand but crazy that people are being left behind.
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