Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Train Troubles

This was NOT supposed to happen. The plan was for me to start riding the train this week and write a glowing review about my experiences. I had already bought into the concept so fully in my mind that it would have taken very little for me to enjoy it come the day of launch. You see there are LOTS of great reasons to use public transportation. Everything from reducing airborne pollutants to saving money and perhaps even a bit of time.

My reasons lean more to the selfish side than the "save the world" side but this was my list:
  • Allows me to bike commute to station on good weather days (Get much needed exercise).
  • Allows me to work on the train and get more done each day.
  • Save money on gas prices.
  • Delay wear and tear on vehicle saving mechanical costs.
  • Faster commute. I've Often viewed the train zooming past me when on clogged highway.
  • Helping to support jobs and additional revenue for the City and County of Denton
But if you Google "reasons to take public transportation" you will see that I've only scratched the surface of positive impacts one can make by adopting this method of commuting. I was not the guy that DCTA needed to "convince" to ride. In fact, I had hoped to be the guy that applauded and praised their efforts, recommending them to all who would listen.

So DCTA had their big unveil and trial run on Monday. I got on the website to purchase my Regional Pass and there it was. They had finally posted their fares and to my shock and surprise they wanted $120 per month to get me 15 miles down I-35!

Let's do some math shall we?

Round trip is 30 miles
30 X 5 days/week = 150 miles
150 X 4.33 (accounting for 5 week months) = 649.5 miles/mo
649.5 miles divided by 25 mpg is close to 26 gallons
26 gallons X the outrageous gas price of $3.60 = $93.60

So DCTA in their infinite wisdom and marketing genius wants commuters like me to consider ditching their cars NOT so we can save money but so that we can PAY MORE!?? We don't live in New York. We live in the suburban sprawl where each home has a vehicle for every person of driving age under its roof. If you are EVER going to get that demographic to put their keys down and consider riding, the COST is VERY important part of that. I cannot express enough how utterly disappointed and flabbergasted I am at this fare. I can only hope that at some point, perhaps even after reading a blog post like this one, they will realize their significantly HUGE error and reduce the rates. I had assumed by the research I did of other states and large cities that I would stand to pay 1/4 to 1/2 of what I was paying to keep a months worth of gas in my car.

The Marketing Manager's emailed reply to me states the following:

The DCTA Board of Directors attempted to establish fares that are fair and align with other transit system fares in the North Texas Region (not other regions around the country where economics and conditions are different).

So instead of doing National studies on successful mass transit systems in places like New York City, Chicago, or even Atlanta...they are just doing what DART says to do!

Well perhaps I would still save some time in my commute? After all the train does not have to wait on traffic to clear during rush hours. Sadly there is another disappointment at least from what I see on their posted schedules.

I normally leave my house around 7:20AM if I want to be at work by 8:00AM which is a 40 minute commute in traffic. On days without traffic it would be 20 minutes. As you can see from the schedule above, I would need to board the train (which means leaving my house even earlier) by 7:07 in order to be at the Trinity Mills station by 7:45AM. And that still doesn't get me to my office. So if you include the time it takes to get to the station and then the time it takes to get from the Trinity Mills stop to my office, it is well over an hour and some change.

Anybody want to carpool?


Michael said...

Thanks for taking the time to figure this out. I was skeptical of the system, but was going to do a cost analysis anyways to give it a fair shake and buy into it if it was economical. After all saving money is saving money…

Jim said...

I am sure it makes sense for some people. Possibly those with no other alternative and those that only need to stay in the Local Fares area...which is pretty small. Even then a monthly pass is around $90 which is about what I spend in gas now. Maybe, just maybe...they will lower fares when they see very little interest in the public response.

Jim said...

Or I could be the only wierdo that thinks these rates are too high!