How much do we lose?

We’re learning more about the nascent Oklahoma City streetcar system. For one thing, it won’t run on Sunday, at least at first, unless there’s something like a Thunder game going on. I blame this on Embark, the local transit agency, which couldn’t be persuaded to run any actual buses on Sunday for many years.

What I’m really curious about, though, is how much they expect to lose on this shiny new toy:

Based on ridership estimates from around 2013 and taking the upper range of those estimates, the streetcar could have just under 500,000 riders per year.

Herzog Transit Services of Irving, Texas will be operating the system, and will be paid $3.2 million for the first year. So each ride will cost something like $6.40. No way, of course, is anyone going to be expected to drop six bucks in the fare box:

Fares would be expected to offset 10 to 11 percent of the operating expenses once the system is established.

So, 75 cents a trip, then?

Herzog also operates the Kansas City streetcar system. It runs seven days a week and riders are charged, um, nothing. What are we doing wrong?


  1. fillyjonk »

    4 June 2017 · 8:45 am

    Who underwrites the KC system? The taxpayers?

    I wonder if there’s anywhere that this sort of thing is paid for by restaurants/ businesses with the idea that it brings in more business.

    I dunno. We had a bus service running from Sherman to here – lots of my students who lived in north Texas used it – but for various reasons (including mismanagement) they wound up massively in the red and had to abruptly drop that route (and it was, as you might predict, a nightmare for the people who had depended on it and done stuff like sold their second car or encouraged their spouse to change work-schedules and use their only car)

  2. Lorna »

    4 June 2017 · 9:14 am

    Oh that’s really interesting!

    Raindrops of Sapphire

  3. CGHill »

    4 June 2017 · 12:44 pm

    Funding on the KC Streetcar comes from a special taxing district; a nonprofit corporation was created to receive the funds and deal with Herzog.

  4. Holly H »

    5 June 2017 · 9:30 am

    I wonder when OK and TX will join the modern world and realize that we need effective and cheap mass transit? Yes, underwritten by the taxpayers. This is an example of a system that should be supported, not because it can break even financially, but because in the LONG RUN, we will better off for it, in a multitude of ways, including our states’ economic well-being.

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