Study Says Ben Franklin Transit Should Cut Sales Tax, Streamline Services
Since 1996, the Washington Policy Center (the leading economic think tank in our state and region) have done two cost-profit-performance analysis of Ben Franklin Transit, largely because they're funded with a local sales tax...public funding.
Now, WPC has released it's third such assessment, and the publicly released study has found the following:
- Ben Franklin Transit officials continue to collect taxes and increase spending as total ridership declines.
- Between 2009 and 2017, total ridership at BFT declined by 40 percent. Population grew 15 percent over the same period.
- Between 2009 and 2017, bus ridership declined 41 percent, vanpool ridership declined 48 percent, and demand response ridership declined 23 percent.
- Despite large ridership losses, between 2009 and 2017, operating expenses increased 20 percent, and sales tax revenue collections increased 44 percent.
- When BFT operates a demand response vehicle, it costs more than twice as much as a privately-contracted taxi.
By demand response, they are referring to Dial-A-Ride and other 'on demand' services. The WPC has a three-fold solution to help lower the costs to taxpayers. They recommend re-allocating and reorganizing resources to be more efficient, contract out more services to save money, and lower the sales tax rate.
WPC also says despite a steadily growing population, BFT ridership is declining and continues to do so. Unless officials lower the tax rate, WPC says continued 'spending' will call into question the validity and fairness of BFT's taxing authority.