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Follow-Up -- Marin Transit Changes in Novato

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After attending the community sessions, where approximately 10 people ended up showing any interest, the attendance figures, despite being thoroughly advertised did not match the 'demand' that the consultants reported.

Given that Marin Transit's (MT) stated goals of increasing the efficiency and the productivity of transit within Novato, there seemed to be options that were either not considered or even worse considered and thrown out due to other factors. In addition to this, we've learned that the labor/operating contract that MT has with Golden Gate Transit (GGT) was signed in approximately 2007 for 10 years. They do have a way out of the contract after the 7th year (2014 approx.). But the contract with GGT does not accommodate being able to limit the size of the buses they use. So to change this, MT would either have to end the contract with GGT and move to a provided with a fleet of the smaller more efficient buses, or buy the buses, and provide to GGT for their drivers.

We see at least 2 other options (other than the do nothing option) that were not presented, and its not clear how or even if they were considered.

  1. With all else equal, change the buses from the very long buses to the shorter and more cost effective 30 ft mini buses. This would accomplish both goals of increased efficiency through the smaller buses vs. larger with same ridership, better on-time scheduling, etc., and increases in productivity by lowering the cost of operation and cost to the environment with using the smaller more efficient buses. Labor costs in this alternative would remain the same, as the number of hours contracted with GGT would not change, bus drivers would simply be sitting in different vehicles. This would mean that MT would have to provide buses to GGT.
  2. In this option, the key lever of change is moving the contract away from GGT to one of the other transit providers MT currently does business with. Several of those providers have the smaller buses, that would better serve Novato without changing the routes. MT would have the option of either still purchasing the buses (which they could do immediately, prior to the 7th year of the GGT contract, then give those assets to the new agency) or wait 2 more years then pull the trigger with the new provider, either having them provide the buses or then purchasing the buses on behalf of the provider. This would accomplish both goals as well but through a better cost model than alternative option #1.

In both options, MT would certainly see an increase in ridership percent (riders / capacity), which is a key measure of productivity.

No one is sure what the reason is for MT's lack of considering the above options. Possibly there is something that has not been revealed that legitimately changes the analysis. Or there could be some agenda's at play at the upper echelons of MT that is pushing for the current recommendations.

We ask that you write or call Marin Transit or any of our Novato City Council and ask them to provide answers for why this type of alternative was not considered. The email template below provide a basic shell. Please edit according to your specific message.

Marin Transit or Novato City Council Email

Related Article(s):

Marin Transit Proposes Phased Changes for Novato

 

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