How much of a loss should the taxpayer pay for a public transportation system?

That is the question that came to my mind when I read an article published in the Michigan Capitol Confidential.  In that article we find out that the 2.9-mile downtown Detroit monorail loop lost an average of $9.89 on every trip it provided in 2017.

Again the focus should be on how much a publicly funded public transportation project should lose before it is deemed a failure, not needed or not sustainable.  If a publicly funded transportation system cannot generate enough riders to even come close to covering the cost to operate the system, should it be shutdown.

If it should not be shutdown then should fares be raised to cover operating costs?

If you are OK with a public transportation system losing taxpayer dollars the next question would be how much is an acceptable lose before it is deemed a failure, not needed or not sustainable?

I believe those are all legitimate questions to ask and have answered.

In the article we find out that according to the city of Detroit's 2017 consolidated annual financial statement, the People Mover cost $25.4 million to operate in 2017. According to a website that tracks transportation data, fares collected in 2017 totaled $1,423,890 and operating expenses totaled $17,072,427.  That equates to the cost per a trip equaling $10.51 and the average fare in 2017 was 62 cents.

The Detroit People Mover is funded by grants from the city, state and federal governments.  That is our taxpayer money going to what many would say is either not needed in Detroit or not sustainable with the fares charged.

As a side note we discover in the article that:

the highest-paid employee of the Detroit People Mover monorail train last year wasn’t the general manager. It was a maintenance employee who had a base salary of $57,220 but ended up collecting $174,602 in total.

People Mover spokeswoman Ericka Alexander was quoted in the article stating:

The majority of individuals earning overtime are responsible for all facets of the operations and maintenance of the Detroit People Mover (DPM)…there are 12 vacancies in these divisions that DTC is seeking candidates to fill. We have few employees who earn annual salaries of six figures.

Now that is a cherry of a job, would you not agree

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