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County: Transit Fares Should Cover a Third of Operating Costs

The remainder of Gwinnett County Transit costs to be covered by taxpayer funded federal and state subsidies.

A trip on Gwinnett County Transit will soon cost more.

The fare increase, the first since August of 2008, is being implemented to meet Gwinnett County's goal that fares cover “about a third” of the entire cost to provide bus service, according to a county press release. The remainder of the cost is covered by taxpayer-funded federal and state subsidies.

Citing increased costs to operate, maintain and fuel buses, Gwinnett Transit Director Phil Boyd explained some of the expense must be passed to transit customers.

Officials hope the roughly 25 percent fare increase will eliminate the need to make cuts to transit service that would burden customers.

“Gwinnett County Transit will continue to monitor ridership and make minor service adjustments as necessary to maintain cost-effective operations,” the release stated.

According to Gwinnett County’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the year ending Dec. 31, 2010, the local transit operating fund was expected to have expenses of roughly $8.4 million. The fund, which is described as “not self-supporting,” was budgeted to receive $3.6 million from the county’s general fund in 2010.

The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners approved the new fare policy on Nov. 15, 2011. The new fares will go into effect on Jan. 30, 2012.

Do you think covering a third of expenses is a reasonable goal or should public transit be entirely self-supporting? Tell us in the comments.

Chris Wall January 17, 2012 at 11:25 PM
What business does government have providing and taxing for transportation? What percentage of Gwinnett resident use it?
Jimmy Orr January 18, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Gwinnett Transit, how about giving us taxpayers a break and let your ridership pay 100% for their ride. If paying for 33 1/3% of the cost to operate the system and being fed at the public trough via taxpayer funded subsidies for the other 66 2/3% is Gwinnett Transit's measure of success, same is a dismal rate of measuring success. Translated, you would not "hack it" in the private sector. BTW, Kristi, I find no errors in your math.
Mitch January 18, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Only government would consider a 33% intake of the total cost to operate as a success. How many private businesses with a 67% net loss would still be in business? I'm sure some will say that the public transportation is needed and it is tax dollars well spent. But I agree with Jimmy, how about giving us taxpayers a break and give back the 67% and charge the riders enough to self sustain the service. Do we really have 9.6 million living in Gwinnett County? I thought we were around the 1 million mark.
Kristi Reed (Editor) January 18, 2012 at 04:16 PM
No, we don't. I told you I needed someone to check my math. I looked at the wrong number. Hang on - recalculating.
Kristi Reed (Editor) January 18, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Excellent question Chris. The most recent numbers I found indicated that Gwinnett Transit transported "2.3 million people" in 2009. I don't know if they actually meant 2.3 million different people or 2.3 million boardings. If they mean 2.3 million people boarded the buses, then one person would likely account for two boardings a day. The buses operate five days a week, so that works out to 8,846 boardings per day of operation or, if each person rides twice, 4,423 people a day. According to the Census Bureau, Gwinnett's population in 2010 was 805,321. So, if my math is correct, 4,423 people works out to be .5 percent of the population. If they actually mean 2.3 million different people rode the bus, then a lot of non-Gwinnett people used the transit system at some point in 2009. Thanks Mitch for catching the error. I was looking at the wrong population figure.
Mitch January 18, 2012 at 04:25 PM
I didn't think we were New York status yet. Give us a few more years! :)
Kristi Reed (Editor) January 18, 2012 at 04:29 PM
It is bad when you multiply the population by a factor greater than 10 and don't even realize you are doing it. I kept looking at the number thinking it didn't make sense and just didn't realize why. That's pretty bad. On the plus side, .5 percent is a little better than .05 percent.
Jimmy Orr January 18, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Go into the search window at the top right hand side of the Dacula Patch home page and type in Time to Slash Grants and Subsidies. I wrote this article back on February 11, 2011. If you will take time to read my article you will readily see that Federal government grants and subsidies are "eating our lunch." It is way past time to slash these grant and subsidy programs and return the taxpayer dollars which fund same back to OUR pockets. In doing so, we will have more money to purchase more goods & services, allow businesses to expand and offer gainful employment to those seeking jobs, and invest in the entrepreneurship which creates jobs. This will not happen until American taxpayers (local, state, and federal) say an emphatic NO MORE to wasteful grants and subsidy programs. You see, the Federal government takes our tax dollars and doles them out to state and local governments to sustain the operations of entities like Gwinnett Transit. Truth of the matter, Gwinnett Transit could/would not exist without government subsidies. A few months ago I e-mailed Congressman Rob Woodall asking if he would furnish me with the names of the 900 Federal grant programs along with the 26 Federal agencies which administer those programs and to furnish me with the names of the 2,001 (last count) Federal subsidy programs with the names of the 16 Federal agencies which administer those programs. (See ORR continuation)
Jimmy Orr January 18, 2012 at 04:48 PM
(ORR continuation) What I received from Congressman Woodall in the way of a reply was a website I could go into to see which grants had been awarded and by what Federal agency over a period of time. Heck, I already knew about this website. What I was looking for was the "name, rank, and serial number" assocaited with Federal grants and subsidies. It is no wonder that our national debt is "going out the roof." With all due respect to Congressman Woodall and his peers in Congress, they "ain't" got a clue as to how our tax dollars are being wasted on Federal grants and subsidies. In closing, try to get this same information from the State of Georgia on state grants and subsidies and the state agency which administers same.
Mitch January 18, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Sure explains the whopping 13% approval rating our great Congress is getting right now. And considering you wrote that article a year ago doesn't look like much has changed. Probably well past due to vote out all incumbents on both (R) and (D) sides.
Jimmy Orr January 19, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Mitch, I appreciate your comments but know what I would appreciate even more? I would appreciate it if you would ask those in your e-mail address database to weigh in on cutting the wasteful Federal grants & subsidy programs and reducing the bloated Federal bureaucracy (bureaucracy begats bureaucracy) that administers them. FYI, I have those in my e-mail database who live in Gwinnett County, who live throughout Georgia, and who live throughout the United States. Therefore, I do a lot of "politicking" on the internet. For example, say I send out 500 e-mails and those 500 send out 25, 50, or even 100 e-mails, and those recipients send out 10, 25, 50 e-mails, etc. Do the math and see the potential that 500 e-mails can make in the political arena. Appreciate your help. James H. (Jimmy) Orr, jr.
MLP Neighbor September 21, 2012 at 04:17 PM
So, you're another person who thinks that roads and highways are "free"? Listen to Los Angeles when they tell you that you can't build your way out of a traffic mess. Sooner or later, there will be transit throughout the Atlanta metro area. You sound like the people who say that we don't need bike lanes because no one rides bikes. Here's a quarter; buy a clue.

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