Higher ridership and lower costs? This is about the best news any transit agency could want.
We previously compared COTA’s costs to its peers here using 2007 data. The 2008 NTD data are out now, but I haven’t analyzed that yet. It’s on my long “to do” list that probably won’t get accomplished anytime soon.
COTA holding line on expenses
Ridership still growing as transit agency expands service
Monday, May 10, 2010 2:52 AM
By Bill Bush
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
The Central Ohio Transit Authority has good news on two fronts: Its operating costs are becoming more like its peers’, and its ridership is continuing to climb.
COTA spent 18 percent more in 2008 to field a bus for one hour than nine similarly sized transit agencies, but that’s down from a 32 percent gap in 2004.
“When you’re a third higher, you don’t do it overnight,” said Chief Executive Officer Bill Lhota, who blamed COTA’s costs on higher labor expenses and the increased maintenance that was needed to keep up a fleet with older buses.
COTA has narrowed the gap largely by holding costs steady while its peers’ expenses increased.
The agency also has been bucking the trend among many transit agencies by expanding service. Last year, COTA provided 16.1 million passenger rides – 1.3 percent more than in 2008, according to farebox counts.