Beeline ridership drops, revenue jumps

Ridership on Glendale’s bus system, the Beeline, has decreased to nearly 1.9 million passengers this year, a roughly 26% decline since the city started increasing fare prices in 2011, according to data released this month in the city’s comprehensive annual financial report.

But the drop in ridership hasn’t negatively impacted revenues. Instead, the phased-in fare increase that went into effect two years ago has doubled Beeline revenues to $1.2 million this year, said Steve Zurn, director of public works, in an email.

“Our revenue has steadily increased and we are in solid financial shape in the transit fund,” Zurn said.

In 2011, the City Council put a plan in place to quadruple the Beeline fare from 25 cents to $1 to close a roughly $3 million deficit in the city’s transit fund prompted by depressed sales tax revenue during the recession.

A portion of the city’s sales-tax revenue pays for its transit system.

The city also reduced some bus routes, cutting total route miles by 11% to 731,036 miles as of this past June. In an unconventional move, the city replaced a portion of an underused section of a bus route that faced elimination with a city-funded shuttle run by a taxi service to reduce costs.

Due to dozens of early retirements at City Hall in 2012 and a series of Los Angeles County sales tax increases, the city nixed a fare hike to $1.25 scheduled for this year.

Even though ridership has dropped, Zurn said that wouldn’t prompt future fare increases to make up for the fewer passengers.

“The ridership losses will not in and of themselves drive future fare increase or service changes that will be driven by the cost of providing the service, fare box return requirements and service demand,” Zurn said.

The Public Works Department is preparing to conduct another bus-route study to gauge ridership, demand and rider preferences, Zurn said.

“It would be our hope that in the future, as we become stronger financially, that we can even consider expanding service in certain areas,” he said.


Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.


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