Entries Tagged 'Transportation' ↓

Should Paratransit rates be increased?

Seems like a harmless debate? Right? Well it is a bit more complicated than that.

While I think a very ‘small’ increase is okay, ever expecting Paratransit to be self-sufficient is a bit far-fetched. There are those who would argue both sides of the coin, but those who want Paratransit to be self-sustaining are just not being realistic.

My arguments are very simple. A transit ride, whether that is by train, bus, or paratransit bus is transportation and infrastructure costs, no different than fixing our streets or maintaining our bike trail. There is no toll or fee to use our streets and bike trail, but we do pay a (regressive) retail tax to have them repaired. We also receive Federal funding for our roads.

Who pays a retail tax in our community? Well, anyone who purchases ‘stuff’. This not only includes us planet choking auto owners but it also includes children, the homeless, people who are disabled, etc. etc. In some respects you could almost argue that paratransit and SAM rides in general should be free to anyone who pays retail taxes, but I won’t go there.

There is also an economic view of providing an affordable paratransit service. People with disabilities who want to work CAN. And instead of the Federal government supplementing their entire income and health benefits, they actually contribute to our community by working. Making paratransit unaffordable to those who need it most, the ones that depend on it for employment transportation, would be detrimental to that whole sector of individuals in Sioux Falls. Some may think this may be a way to drive the disabled out of town. That’s just crazy talk, many disabled people live and work in Sioux Falls because they are close to healthcare services and can be gainfully employed. You won’t drive them out of town.

I look at a ‘subsidy’ of paratransit necessary and no different then ‘subsidizing’ the street department to fill pot holes and fix our roads.

If you look at this through the eyes of government being prudent with our money, I couldn’t find many other things that are close to it. We have a choice, subsidize the rides so people can work and contribute to the tax base in our community, or make it unaffordable so these people have to use way more Federal resources which costs us way more of our Federal contribution.

As for how Paratransit operates, there are many, many, many things that could change to make it more efficient operational wise that would save us money in the long run. One suggestion would be to put in an efficient dispatch system. This would save in man hours, fuel and make the rides more timely.

While the city council and mayor may be beating their heads against the wall about fee increases, the bottom line is subsidizing paratransit just makes economic sense, now if they can concentrate on running it better, that would show some true prudence and business acumen.


While everyone sits on the edge of their seats about the Sioux Falls city budget, the big meeting is tomorrow

The audit committee tackles several hurdles on Wednesday. While the Zoo gets a clean bill of health (Bravo! I had the pleasure of meeting the director this summer and having a great convo over BBQ, and hope to follow up soon on her invitations!).

The crime lab has issues with cash storage 🙁

But the most interesting audit was the Transit (Doc:Transit-Audit-9-2015 ) it’s full of ‘concerning’ points (an example below)


It seems the biggest problem with the transit system is not cash flow, but customer service.

Is the FREE Youth Bus Passes a Success?

I guess time will tell, but the first numbers seem promising, considering there has been pretty much zero promotion by the city except for a few news stories, an online flyer and a press conference;

“It’s really been going pretty well,” Sam Trebilcock with the city planning office said. “We have about 433 tags that have been provided this year. Where as in comparison to other years we’ve had more like 200-225. People certainly are taking advantage of it.”

Trebilcock says bus drivers haven’t had any issues so far. Kids ages 11-18 can get on a bus without a parent while those between 6-10 need an adult with them.

“We know where some of the routes, where they are being used the most. East side we see quite a few people using that on Route 7. And then they’re using several of the other routes too,” Trebilcock said.

On June 30, Sioux Area Metro had 114 dog tag riders for the day. Last Wednesday, that number was up to 143. The top route on both days was Route 7 in the northeast area around Washington High School and Dawley Farm Village.

When the program ends, it will be interesting to see the ridership numbers. If the current numbers continue, SAM could see over 8,000 rides for the summer!

Comparing Sioux Falls proposed Transit Fee hikes with Ft. Collins, CO

The city of Sioux Falls is proposing bus fee hikes (Item #21-1st Reading)


Let’s compare our fare increases to Ft. Collins current fees.

• It is called “TransFort”

• Ft. Collins population is about 150,000.

• Find it at www.ridetransfort.com
• The basic fare is $1.25. The 31-day fare is $25.
• Children and college students ride free all year. (Colleges pitch in for this, I think.)
• Transfers are free.
• They have a program called BRT (Bus Rapid Transit), a modern system that gets bus routes connected faster. Their BRT”MAX” has free wifi, and its stops have screens showing arrival time.  There is comprehensive coverage of the city, unlike our routes provide.
• It’s not perfect, but the Ft.Collins system provides far more value to its riders for their $1.25 than our bus system can do next year for $1.50.
The proposed bus fares in Sioux Falls are too high considering the service available on SAM (even as wonderful as our buses and drivers and passengers are). I have been to Ft. Collins and plan on visiting again soon. Yes, it has a large college there, but the size of the city is comparable, but it is much more progressive (oh, and Mary Jane is legal there). When I visited I was impressed by the progressiveness of the transportation options.

Presser to Announce FREE Youth Bus rides 6/24/15


Carnegie Town Hall

(Wed) 11:00am, 10th & Dakota

As I understand it, the Press Conference will be conducted by the City Council.

FREE Youth Summer Transit program – Kickoff today!


Image: KSFY screenshot

The kickoff is from 11 AM – 1 PM at EmBe downtown Sioux Falls today (Saturday).

(I also noticed that KSFY used a photo of the kids with the mayor in the story. A reminder that this is the 2nd or 3rd resolution that the mayor has refused to sign, which delayed the FREE ridership by one week. He deserves ZERO credit for this program being implemented. ZERO!)

FREE bus passes already available

I got word this morning from a city official that SAM is already giving out FREE bus passes to youth (so they can avoid refunds after the 26th). The system will work identical to the dog tag youth had to buy in the past, and no city ordinances will have to change in reference to riding with a parent or being disciplined (revoking your pass) for unruly behavior. Seems this has gone smoother then we thought (except for the week delay due to our pouting mayor). I would like to thank the city council for making this service available and DOING THEIR DUE DILIGENCE!

Go get your passes today and explore our great city!

Celebrate the FREE Bus Rides!




UPDATE: Mayor Huether refuses to sign FREE Youth transit resolution

However, he did not VETO the resolution, so that means it will go in affect a week later on June 26. There could be some complications though. The administration still has to come up with a plan on how to administer it, so they could make it very convoluted so it is hard to use. The council has suggested making it very simple.

-You put an age limit on it that you can ride by yourself

-A parent or guardian must sign a waiver to get the dog tag making them aware you have the pass

-You get a dog tag that is similar to what the Augie students use

-When you get on the bus with the special tag, the bus driver simply presses a button saying you are part of the youth ridership program.

Someone asked me if they don’t have the tag or lost it if they could still get the ride. A friend suggested to me that maybe they could use a password to the driver to get the free ride, something like ‘My Man Mike’ 🙂

Hopefully the transit administration will be cooperative and not turn it into a big hassle to get the passes.

Somebody mentioned to me the other day that perhaps this was looked at as a handout to the kids. I don’t look at it that way at all, besides the economic impact factor, adult parents as well as kids pay sales taxes on everything they purchase in our city, so while they may not be paying for the ride up front, they are still contributing to the tax base that funds the transit system. It’s no different than using our bike trails for free as far as I am concerned.

UPDATE: Joe Sneve with the Argus Leader weighs in with some priceless comments from Huether;

Huether said withholding his signature came down to the manner in which it was passed.

” I do believe the resolution has some merit. It was the process, the rush and the lack of prudent due diligence that I could not defend nor support,” he said.

This coming from the guy that has ram-rodded every project he was for, like the indoor aquatic center that has to be built with cash because no bonding company will give a bond for a building being built on land with a quit claim deed. Let’s talk ‘Due Dilligence’.

Offering rides free of charge to a select group, Turbak added, wouldn’t help convince potential riders that public transit is worth the cost of bus fare.

“People don’t place a value on what they don’t have to pay for,” Turbak said last week.

Yeah Tracy, everyone in Sioux Falls HATES our free parks and bike trail 🙁

“The city and Sioux Area Metro are now diligently working to determine the safety and liability risks, expense and operational concerns, customer service and value considerations, the policy, the process and so much more,” Huether said. “We will scramble and get it done. However, businesses, nonprofits and families are not successful with a fire, aim, ready approach and government is absolutely no different.”

Hypocrisy in the HIGHEST order. Everything Huether has accomplished was through that very approach.