Friday, December 28, 2007

RTD Says Happy New Year With 17% Fare Hike

Denver's RTD is ringing in the new year with a system wide fare hike that includes a 17% on local fares. One of the interesting things that came out of this was that RTD is not using local sales tax forecasts but statewide forecasts and assuming they would hold true for the Denver metro. How much would a Denver metro economic forecast cost them? $10,000? $40,000? $100k? Surely that's cheaper than not being able to properly plan for the upcoming budget year instead of being $5.5 million short and having to come up with a last minute plan. That is, it wouldn't help avoid the shortfall but it would help plan. Knowing a couple years out that tax revenues will be lower would help them do things like institute a hiring freeze up front instead of last minute layoffs.

What it leaves me wondering is what sort of other half-assed (excuse my French) predictions did they make like this? How many of their FasTracks predictions were based off of state-wide sales tax revenues and assuming the exact same would hold true for metro Denver? Were some of their ridership projections based on population growth that holds true for the metro as a whole but not the areas around lines like the Gold Line or West Corridor? After all, those areas of Arvada, Lakewood and others aren't going to be seeing 30% population growth over the next decade. Yet that is what is predicted for metro Denver. Much of that growth will be experienced in areas like Douglas and Adams counties. Areas that Fastracks barely if at all serves.

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