Port authority contracts for their fuel and I assume its an annual contract. According to that article, the Port Authority's fuel contract is due to be reset and their diesel prices are slated to rise from the $2.27 a gallon they have been paying recently to $4.27 a gallon. So a rise of roughly $1.70/gallon which at $80K/cent gives you ~$13.6 million additional fuel cost for the upcoming year. .
But what about the increased revenues???? Take the story from the weekend that Port Authority ridership is up 6% July over July. It's odd that the Port Authority goes out of its way to tell the public about their higher fuel prices, but fails the mention the increased revenues higher ridership is bringing in. Isn’t that part of the financial equation?
So for all the assignment editors out there, don't you think there is a story out there in what the percentage increase has been in farebox collected revenues over the last 6 months? Seems relevant to a lot of transit issues these days, not the least of which are the contract negotiations ongoing.
Can we guess at that? Making this overly simplistic, but assuming that the bus service in the short run is very much a fixed cost industry. That just follows from the number of routes and buses being the same even if ridership bumps up. At some point they would have to add buses but I doubt that is happening much just yet. So the added riders are mostly net new revenue. Also assuming that the marginal rider is mostly a full fare paying person. That I know isn’t true and maybe I’ll come back to that. But you figure the person really being pushed to not commute by car is someone who does not have a free or discounted pass already.
Round trip fare per day: $4 (which is lowball for the full fare, zone 2 and 3 fares go up to $6.50/day.. but I am ignoring the discount factor for monthly/annual passes so maybe the two assumptions balance out a little).
250 days of typical daily commuting per year. So I am undercounting by not even taking into account weekend ridership which is lower, but also increasing at a much faster pace in recent months. =$1000 per new full fare paying rider per year. To cover an $13.6 million dollar gas charge you need 13,600 new full fare paying daily commuters.
Funny how that number comes awfully close to the 13,379 increase in average weekday ridership being reported. Increased weekend ridership would provide additional revenue on top of what I calculated above. You have to wonder how much ridership would be up if routes had not been gutted by such a large magnitude right as the demand for transit ridership was about to spike up. Like a lot of things in town, even things that make sense to do here are done at the completely wrong time. Fighting the last war is another way to think of it... We're good at that around here.
Also consider the fact that the higher fuel prices have not been hitting the Port Authority's bottom line through the year. They contract fuel on long term contracts, so the cost side of the equation is only really going to hit them going into the future, yet they have been collecting the increased revenue from higher ridership for months now at least. Ridership has probably ramping up over the last year.
So yes.. I could be and probably am wrong on the back of the envelope calculations above. Why do we need to guess at things? Is there any reason at all the Port Authority could not put online in near real time its ridership and revenue numbers. It is a public authority after all. Wouldn't it make so much more sense to do that fairly trivial-to-implement bit of data disclosure vice going to the time, effort and expense to produce that biased "Rumor of the day" web page and associated web site. Think about it. I bet it's an order of magnitude cheaper to put online revenue numbers they already have collect compared to what they are paying someone to first come up with some 'rumors' to then to refute them online.