The Fortify 40/440 project is an NC DOT effort to re-build the southern part of the I-40 beltline. Naturally, a major highway construction project like this means lane closures and major traffic jams for commuters. In this case, however, it also means a waste of NC taxpayers’ money.
In trying to alleviate these traffic problems, the DOT has partnered with the Triangle Transit Authority (TTA) to offer drivers alternatives to avoid construction traffic. Indeed, NC DOT has reportedly dedicated $12 million to beef up transit options during the construction period.
One of those transit options has been the Johnston County Express, a bus route traveling at regular intervals between Johnston County (near the I-40/NC 42 exchange) and downtown Raleigh. The Express is actually a service that the TTA contracted out to the City of Raleigh, but all the funding comes from NC DOT.
The Express has proved to be very costly. As shown in the chart below, for the 12 months ending November 2014 (the latest data available) the total cost was $519,984 to serve 8,780 riders – which comes to an average cost per rider, per trip of $59.22.[i]
Meanwhile, the fare for riders comes to $3.00 a trip, which means that taxpayers have been subsidizing each rider to the tune of more than $55 for each one-way trip. For each rider’s daily round-trip commute on the Express, taxpayers are paying about $110.
And at such a great expense, the Express has done nothing to ease the traffic snarl of the Fortify project. Most months the Express bus averages around 2 riders per trip. If anything, adding a 40-foot bus with an average of 2 passengers traveling back and forth to downtown makes traffic worse.
Taxpayers should keep this in mind as TTA works on developing its next grand transit scheme. Just how much inefficiency and waste are transportation bureaucrats willing to force us to pay for?
Because it forces taxpayers to subsidize an absurd amount of dollars for virtually empty buses doing nothing to relieve traffic congestion, the Johnston County Express is this week’s Waste of the Week.
[i] Data obtained in email correspondence with Anthony Pecoraro, member of the Raleigh Transit Authority (RTA)