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  1. #1
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    How does your state rank for transit?







    (The table was taken from a long blog article about transit in Ohio and Cincinatti.)


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  2. #2
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    I was surprised to see my own state (Michigan) placed pretty highly at # 14--especially after several years of conservative government and being so hard hit by the Great Recession and loss of manufacturing.

    Alaska being # 1 by a big margin was very surprising to me. I wonder what kind of transit they get for their money--especially considering that Alaska is very high on rankings of getting back federal money.

    Also surprising to me--four states don't set aside any money at all for public transit: Alabama, Arizona, Hawaii, and Utah. Wake up, you guys!


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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post

    Alaska being # 1 by a big margin was very surprising to me. I wonder what kind of transit they get for their money--especially considering that Alaska is very high on rankings of getting back federal money.

    Also surprising to me--four states don't set aside any money at all for public transit: Alabama, Arizona, Hawaii, and Utah. Wake up, you guys!
    LOL! Alaska has almost no public transit. Visit their website.

    Are they saying Alaska spend more than Boston? It's a joke.

    You don't need a state to spend billions in public transit like New York City. All you need is one bus or rail line that provides moderate service and you can be carfree.

    This weekend, I was using the bus like crazy traveling with my bike on the rack. I was reaching distances that would have cost me 20 dollars in gas or more for $2.00 dollars.

  4. #4
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department, sometimes called the Department of Cars and Trucks, lobbies quite successfully to keep themselves well funded. No where near Alaska standards, but at least we beat Texas.
    "He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

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  5. #5
    Senior Member CliffordK's Avatar
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    Interesting chart.

    I'm not surprised that the states with the biggest urban centers (blue states) rank near the top, and the more rural states (red states) rank near the bottom.

    Alaska is a bit of an anomaly, but it may be that transportation is so expensive in the state that it skews all the results. For example so much transportation is by air.

  6. #6
    Wookie Fred chewybrian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
    LOL! Alaska has almost no public transit. Visit their website.

    Are they saying Alaska spend more than Boston? It's a joke.
    Not a lot of Capita up there, so the 'per' is high.

    Quote Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
    Alaska is a bit of an anomaly, but it may be that transportation is so expensive in the state that it skews all the results. For example so much transportation is by air.
    And that.

    What struck me is that it might only take $200 per to have great public transportation like New York. Who among us would not like to pay $200 a year in exchange for the public transportation options in New York?

    Yes, subways don't work for most places, but it still makes you wonder just what you might get for a relatively small investment.
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    Senior Member Jim from Boston's Avatar
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    Glad to see Massachusetts ranked #3 , though there is a lot of upheaval and recriminations going on due to the problems encountered during the winter of 2015, including a couple days of total shutdown, and about a month of curtailed services.

    I personally live in a transportation hub of Boston called Kenmore Square, and I have nearly door to door subway/rail service to my workplace in Norwood, 14 miles distant. I can even cut my bicycle ride down to 1.5 miles using the rails, if so inclined.

  8. #8
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artkansas View Post
    The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department, sometimes called the Department of Cars and Trucks, lobbies quite successfully to keep themselves well funded. No where near Alaska standards, but at least we beat Texas.
    It's hard to tell from the chart, but the public transit funding in Arkansas is probably around a buck per head. That isn't even a one-way bus fare!


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  9. #9
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chewybrian View Post
    Not a lot of Capita up there, so the 'per' is high.



    And that.

    What struck me is that it might only take $200 per to have great public transportation like New York. Who among us would not like to pay $200 a year in exchange for the public transportation options in New York?

    Yes, subways don't work for most places, but it still makes you wonder just what you might get for a relatively small investment.
    Public transit is expensive everywhere, not just in Alaska. What amazes me is that Alaskans are willing to pay so much toward transit, although I'm betting it still isn't enough.


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  10. #10
    Wookie Fred chewybrian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    Public transit is expensive everywhere, not just in Alaska. What amazes me is that Alaskans are willing to pay so much toward transit, although I'm betting it still isn't enough.
    It doesn't look expensive from the perspective provided in this thread, which is spending per person. However, if you looked at it from the angle of spending per passenger, I imagine the cost would seem pretty high. Then again, if it was more widely used, economy of scale would drive the price down again. People are apt to post the price that serves their purpose, while the real cost is a moving target.
    Campione Del Mondo Immaginario

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    Senior Member CliffordK's Avatar
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    I assume this chart is based on tax expenditures, and not fare box revenue.

    So, the question should be why a city (state) like New York runs at a deficit. Much of the NYC transportation infrastructure is a half century old, and I would hope has been paid off by now. They get millions of passengers every day with subways filled to standing room only arriving every few minutes.

    A $200 per person deficit likely means that their fares are about $1 too low.

    Do they get more efficient use of public transportation by lowering the fares and making up for the deficit with taxes? I suppose fare boxes are a relatively regressive tax, while income taxes are more progressive. And, the wealthy driving personal vehicles may justify the higher taxes by getting more of the riffraff off of the streets.

  12. #12
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    We're second to last out here in Montana. But the roads here are MUCH... MUCH... better than back on the east coast. Sure, there are less of them, but they're better maintained.

  13. #13
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
    I assume this chart is based on tax expenditures, and not fare box revenue.

    So, the question should be why a city (state) like New York runs at a deficit. Much of the NYC transportation infrastructure is a half century old, and I would hope has been paid off by now. They get millions of passengers every day with subways filled to standing room only arriving every few minutes.

    A $200 per person deficit likely means that their fares are about $1 too low.

    Do they get more efficient use of public transportation by lowering the fares and making up for the deficit with taxes? I suppose fare boxes are a relatively regressive tax, while income taxes are more progressive. And, the wealthy driving personal vehicles may justify the higher taxes by getting more of the riffraff off of the streets.
    Deficit? Where do you get deficit? Are you saying that states fund transit in order to plug up a deficit?


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  14. #14
    Senior Member CliffordK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    Deficit? Where do you get deficit? Are you saying that states fund transit in order to plug up a deficit?
    No,

    If say I wanted to start a Jitney service, I'd buy the bus, and charge high enough fares to pay for the capital expense, labor, maintenance, fuel, and etc. The goal would be to at least break even, but hopefully turn a profit.

    The public bus systems, however, don't need to break even. Even some private companies like Amtrak are heavily subsidized.

    So, say NYC has a population of 8.4 million.
    And they subsidize the fare boxes with $200 per person in tax money.

    Thus, their public transportation system is costing $1.6 Billion more than their farebox revenues.

    On the chart, it says that Alabama, Arizona, Hawaii, and Utah have no state funding for public transportation. So, they either have no public transportation, collect money at the community level, or cover the operating expenses with fares collected.

    According to Wikipedia, some Asian countries actually turn a profit on their buses.
    NYC has a farebox recovery rate of about 50%. Detroit is at about 14% fairbox recovery.

  15. #15
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    Public transit is expensive everywhere, not just in Alaska. What amazes me is that Alaskans are willing to pay so much toward transit, although I'm betting it still isn't enough.
    Given that Alaska always pulls in more Federal money than they pay in taxes due to the oil (and Alaskans don't pay sales or state income tax), it's not Alaskans that are paying that high per capita cost.
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


  16. #16
    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
    The public bus systems, however, don't need to break even. Even some private companies like Amtrak are heavily subsidized.
    The most highly subsidized transport of all: roads and highways.

  17. #17
    Senior Member CliffordK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ekdog View Post
    The most highly subsidized transport of all: roads and highways.
    Around here, a good chunk of the road maintenance costs come from fuel and vehicle taxes.

    But, infrastructure is one of the basic duties of our government. Without it, we'd all still be riding horses.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
    Around here, a good chunk of the road maintenance costs come from fuel and vehicle taxes.
    "A good chunk" doesn't mean the roads are turning a profit.

    But, infrastructure is one of the basic duties of our government. Without it, we'd all still be riding horses.
    Without good public transit, millions are forced to rely on the private automobile.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
    Around here, a good chunk of the road maintenance costs come from fuel and vehicle taxes.
    I checked into this, and it turns out that in the state of Oregon the share of road spending covered by fuel taxes, tolls and other user taxes and fees is only 21.8%.

    Gasoline Taxes and Tolls Pay for Only a Third of State & Local Road Spending | Tax Foundation
    Last edited by Ekdog; 05-27-15 at 08:55 PM.

  20. #20
    Senior Member CliffordK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ekdog View Post
    I checked into this, and it turns out that in the state of Oregon the share of road spending covered by fuel taxes, tolls and other user taxes and fees is only only 21.8%.

    Gasoline Taxes and Tolls Pay for Only a Third of State & Local Road Spending | Tax Foundation
    Here is the ODOT budget summary:

    http://www.oregon.gov/odot/comm/docs...klet_11-13.pdf

    As far as I can tell, it is a $4.9 billion budget, out of which the majority does come from usage fees, with the exception of the following:

    $576 Million "Beginning Balance"????
    $17 Million "General Fund"
    $70 Million "Lottery"
    $640 Million "Bonds" (capital improvements????)
    $49 Million "Other".
    --------------------
    $1.3 Billion.

    State Fuel taxes (except commercial Diesel) make up $1.1 Billion Revenue.
    Federal Funds is just under $1 Billion. However, I don't see what the Oregon Federal Fuel Tax is, but my guess is that it is pretty close to the $1 Billion. I don't see who is paying for the state bonds, but it is probably coming from a different pot.

    Anyway, at the state level, that puts it about 3/4 or more directly related to vehicle fees, and less than 1/4 not.

    While $900 Million of state ODOT money goes to the cities/counties, there is likely additional local money added to the pot.

    Oregon ranks rather low on the fuel tax chart because of the PUC (weight mile) tax and low diesel fuel tax for commercial vehicles.
    So, the fuel tax (non commercial vehicles) is $1.1 Billion, but one should add the weight mile tax that replaces the Diesel tax for commercial vehicles of $611 Million.

    So, if Oregon ranks at 21.8% for fuel tax alone, the actual fuel + weight mile tax would put it at 33.8% not counting federal fuel taxes and all the other vehicle fees, and pushes the state up to about #17 , between Washington and Maryland.

    But, that is still ignoring the Federal fuel tax and other fees.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    We're getting bogged down in statistics.

    Automobile transportation in Oregon and every other state is highly subsidized. It doesn't turn a profit. You know this is true, yet you and so many others conveniently leave this fact out when you make statements like you did in post number 14.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    As I'm sure you're aware, states are taking in even less revenue from gasoline taxes now than they used to because of more efficient internal combustion engines, hybrids and electric vehicles. This has caused Oregon to hatch a pay-per-mile scheme as a replacement.

  23. #23
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
    No,

    If say I wanted to start a Jitney service, I'd buy the bus, and charge high enough fares to pay for the capital expense, labor, maintenance, fuel, and etc. The goal would be to at least break even, but hopefully turn a profit.

    The public bus systems, however, don't need to break even. Even some private companies like Amtrak are heavily subsidized.

    So, say NYC has a population of 8.4 million.
    And they subsidize the fare boxes with $200 per person in tax money.

    Thus, their public transportation system is costing $1.6 Billion more than their farebox revenues.

    On the chart, it says that Alabama, Arizona, Hawaii, and Utah have no state funding for public transportation. So, they either have no public transportation, collect money at the community level, or cover the operating expenses with fares collected.

    According to Wikipedia, some Asian countries actually turn a profit on their buses.
    NYC has a farebox recovery rate of about 50%. Detroit is at about 14% fairbox recovery.
    That's pretty wonky.

    How does that compare to the "deficit" of the auto/trucking/ system that's heavily subsidized, yet termed as "private sector"? How does it compare to "deficits" from air travel", which get free airports and a huge traffic control system from the government? It seems misleading to call things that are paid for by tax dollars a deficit rather than a public service. We all pay for ths things because they benefit us all, and because private companies are happy to pick up the profits but unwilling to make the big capital expenditures that are needed to run a large scale transportation system.


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  24. #24
    Senior Member ro-monster's Avatar
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    While per capita spending is an easy metric to use, I think it's basically irrelevant. It tells you nothing about how well transit in a given state or locality actually serves its purpose -- to get people where they want to go in a reasonably convenient, comfortable, and affordable way.

  25. #25
    alleged person Pobble.808's Avatar
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    Alaska, unlike most other states, has an extensive ferry system, and I'd guess that that's where a lot of their mass transit funding goes.

    As for Hawaii, since it's a bunch of islands, mass transit is basically handled at the local level rather than at the state level. In fact the City and County of Honolulu is currently building a big-bucks commuter rail line but presumably that doesn't register in the OP's chart because it's not a state-level expenditure.

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