Accountability Center

Annual Measures

Financial

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Metro's bus cost per vehicle hour in 2013 was $139.30, a 2.7% increase over 2012. The inflation rate was 1.8% during this period. Wages make up a significant share of Metro's costs. The cost-of-living adjustment for 2013 wages was based on the prior year's inflation rate of 3.3%, which was higher than the 2013 inflation rate. Other costs that grew more than inflation were for the maintenance of an aging vehicle fleet, risk management, security, and other central services. After adjusting for inflation, Metro's 2013 cost per hour was 3.3% higher than in 2010 (and 2.5% higher than in 2008).

Much of Metro's recent improvement in scheduling efficiency was from reducing layovers, as recommended in the 2009 performance audit, and more vehicle hours are now in-service. Because of this efficiency, Metro's cost per estimated in-service hour has grown 5.8% since 2008, much less than the 9.8% inflation during this time.

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Our bus cost per boarding held steady in 2013, as passenger boardings grew at about the same rate as total costs. In inflation-adjusted dollars, Metro's 2013 cost-per-boarding was 2.4% lower than in 2010.

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Metro's VanPool/VanShare operating cost per boarding has decreased over the past two years. Ridership growth has increased the number of passengers per van. The program met its guideline for cost recovery in each of the past three years. The King County Code requires commuter-van fares to be reasonably estimated to recover the full operating and capital costs and at least 25 percent of the administrative costs of the vanpool program.

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Access cost per boarding grew 3.3% in 2013, due to annual inflation adjustments in the call center and service provider contracts, and a decrease in Access ridership that resulted in fixed costs being spread over fewer trips. Metro has been expanding the less-costly Community Access Transit (CAT) program over the past several years, which had a per-boardings operating cost of $5.63.

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Metro's fund management policies, adopted in November 2011, establish a target of 25% for farebox recovery—total bus fares divided by total bus operating costs. From 2010 through 2013, farebox recovery in each year exceeded our target, reaching a record-level 29.1% in 2013. We have seen a growth in farebox recovery due to successive fare increases from 2008 to 2011 and ridership growth since 2010. Fares will increase again in March 2015. This will include a new reduced fare for people with low incomes, which will reduce the farebox recovery somewhat.