|The Tax Payer Is Being Taken For A Ride|
|Darkened Windows Mask Lack Of Riders|
PTC brags and carries on about how local dollars are leveraged to match federal and state resources that are invested in mobility for Fort Wayne residents. Annually, over $4.7 million dollars from outside our community support Citilink services. In addition, millions of dollars in discretionary federal funds help pay for new buses and transit facilities. They say on their website under the "about us" section listed as, board of directors and mission, that whether you ride it or not, public transportation benefits all of us. This point is driven home by a YouTube video. It is only when you look a little deeper into the annual report that shows the numbers behind this operation that reality begins to filter through.
Yes indeed, the picture painted by the numbers of the annual report is not pretty or impressive. With total expenses of $12,625,199 the revenue summary shows only $1,310,690 or about 10.4% comes from fare revenue. This means as shown the bulk of its operating money comes from the taxpayer and is listed as Local Assistance $5,891,916 State Assistance $2,048,372 Federal Assistance $2,661,868. When considering the city has a population of 256,496 people, this means assistance from each man, woman, and child represents $41.33. Again, it must be highlighted that when someone cannot or will not pay their portion the burden is transferred to those who will. Again, if you paid attention to the numbers most the money comes from close to home.
A glaring problem becomes apparent as we read the report and that is these buses are not darting about full of paying riders or non-paying riders receiving a free service, it is far worse than that. The numbers prove the buses are empty even after all the massive efforts to encourage ridership few people in the city have ridden a bus in decades. With a total vehicle operating expense of $5.86 per mile the operating expense per passenger trip comes in at $7.09. This becomes clear when they state the number of passengers per vehicle mile traveled as a mere .83 or in layman terms this means a Citilink bus on average carries less than one passenger and its driver, this means if one bus has three passengers most likely two others have none.
It should be noted that many of the buses act as traveling billboards and are covered in advertising as a way to garner a few pennies of additional revenue. The most common theme sports the strength of a certain bankruptcy law firm, the city recycling program, a positive message related to local government or another entity subsidized in some way by taxpayer money. Colleges receiving state funding, local subsidized sports teams or their arenas, hospitals, and even the groups like Airport Authority tend to pony up money in this incestuous demonstration that they too care about the city.
Also, revealed on the website is the ugly reality as to just how badly the PTC spends our money. For example, I followed through to view one of the several recommended videos Citilink had produced and put on YouTube in January of 2015. The 19-minute video prepared in Spanish told someone how to ride the bus, since being placed on YouTube it had been viewed only 49 times. This means I boosted its audience by 4% when I kicked it on twice. Sadly, the bulk of the other viewers were most likely AdvncingTime readers guided there by a previous post or some in-house close associates of Citilink checking out their little gem before showering themselves with praise. It is clear this highly orchestrated production had to have cost thousands of dollars to produce.
PTC through Citilink goes to great lengths to spread the myth they are helping to make the city "green" and is ecologically friendly, but this claim quickly goes out the highly tinted windows of the buses, I contend the windows have been darkened more to mask the lack of riders than for their comfort. The fleet of buses consumed 361,787 gallons of fuel and traveled 2,153,575 miles. This is less than 6 miles per gallon or 5.95 to be exact. If this is any indication of the state of mass public transportation across much of the nation it would seem the word mass should be dropped as a misnomer, this is particularly true in areas finding parking is not difficult or expensive. Following the footnote is the link to three other cities which seem to be suffering from the empty bus syndrome.
Sadly, the corporation's reports show more taxpayer money is being spent and ridership is continuing to decline, this may be in part to the recent development of options such as Uber. When comparing the 2017 annual report to the 2013 report it becomes easy to make the case something is very wrong here. The catch phrase on the PTC website, "Come Along For The Ride" seems, in this case, to apply to not only their riders but the taxpayers as well. When looking at all the numbers it seems some scheme to subsidize payments for private taxi service for those needing transportation might cost us far less than maintaining this failing apparatus. As far as claims that jobs would be lost a case can easily be made that more taxi drivers would be needed if we had fewer buses.
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Footnote; While this may seem like a rather "off topic" sort of post I think it is important to toss out such oddball subjects that all tend to flow into what makes up our modern culture. This helps to shine a light on where we may to failing or on the wrong path in creating a more sustainable future. Note, some of the links below seem to have gone a bit out of the way to baffle us with BS and mask what the numbers represent.
South Bend Indiana - http://www.sbtranspo.com/
Salem Oregon - https://www.cherriots.org/media/doc/Revised_annual_report_pdf
Topeka Kansas - https://topekametro.orgAnnual-Report-FY2017.pdf