[Note: An earlier version of this post was online for the first few minutes, and the first two comments refer to the earlier version.]
The main finding is that the use of scheduling software could avoid deadhead runs, shorten layovers, and thus save between $12m and $19m a year. The Triplett plan envisions about $90m in service suspensions over four years, so in the long run it could cover a large part of the gap. Unfortunately, it is likely to take as much as three years to realize the full savings from this exercise, and so will not substantially reduce the need for immediate cuts.
Importantly, the County auditor claims this does not violate the labor agreement. Metro layover times are about 29% of the round trip time, compared with a national average of 21%, which presumably results in somewhat higher route reliability than otherwise.
On top of that, an additional $3.75m a year could be saved by using scheduling software Metro already owns, rather than using manual methods for bus and operator assignment.
There are some other findings that are somewhat less likely to be implemented:
- When trolley buses are to be replaced in 2014, do so with diesel hybrids, saving $8.7m a year in life-cycle costs.
- Raise senior, disabled, and youth fares to be in line with peer agencies. Peg them to a fixed percentage of full fare so that they grow in line with it. The details in the slideshow are lacking, but $51m a year suggests that they’re looking at about $1.00 in increases plus some policy changes, like reducing discounts and abolishing the off-peak fare.
There was also a rehash of the $105m one-time fleet replacement surplus. The final installment of the audit report, to include more details on the Auditor’s fare proposal, is due September 15, with the County Executive’s proposed budget hitting the street on September 28. The Council is likely to act in November.
Thanks are due to Larry Phillips for requesting this audit in the first place last year. Metro riders will benefit from his initiative.