The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.
Two years ago, when the Old Drum Bus Service was still in the planning stages, I wrote a letter to your paper questioning the wisdom of building a service based on the assumption that it would cost $8 for every $1 of operating revenue. The projections back then were that costs would be $80,000 per year and revenue from fares would be about $10,000. While I have no knowledge of the actual operating costs of the single bus, I have seen some of the ridership figures. It appears that the operating revenue projections were highly optimistic.
The ridership has seldom exceeded 500 passengers in a month, and half or more of these have been CMSU staff or students who pay no fares. Paid fares seem to have peaked at around $200 per month, which is little more than enough to pay wages, operating expenses and overhead for one day! While the "fares" for the CMSU riders are paid by a grant from CMSU (using taxpayer and student fees), it appears that they're getting little value for their money, as well. The balance is paid by grants (taxpayer money again) and contributions from businesses.
It is time for those who manage the Old Drum Bus Service to make their cost and revenue data public. That way, the taxpayers and their representatives can intelligently decide their commitment to support this project. If publicly subsidized transportation is desirable (which I question), there’s always the option of providing a more convenient and probably more economical service by subsidizing taxi drivers.
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