The relatively short service life of bus vehicles, significant maintenance and repair requirements and high fuel consumption per passenger mile make buses, and particularly oversized buses, the least sustainable of mass transportation modes. Whenever imposed upon communities and transportation systems, oversized express buses often exceed the abilities of streets, roadbeds and traffic control systems to sustain their functional operation. Street pavement and traffic conditions are regularly degraded under excessive loads, and in deference to the demands that express bus operations place on existing roadways and traffic circulation patterns.
When express bus system operators are permitted to cause premature breakdown of pavement and roadbed of existing streets, without being required to commit resources adequate to fully repair and maintain those roadways, the short-changing of departments and local government agencies responsible for street maintenance suffer an erosion of their resources, which degrades the sustainability of their respective infrastructure and program operations.
With Los Angeles MTA bus services subsidized up to 75% of overall costs of operation, express bus services should be accurately appraised with regard to their financial sustainability. Furthermore, a realistic cost-benefit analysis should be conducted to determine if the congestion relief and improved access provided by express buses are actually being realized, and if the value of these benefits justify the deficit financing which supports the express bus services.
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s projected 35-year budget allocates a full third of all expenditures to bus capital and operations. With as much as 75% of bus expenditures derived from sources other than fares, some $75 billion may be diverted from other MTA funds to cover bus system shortfalls. Diversion of such large volumes of funds from MTA rail, transit, subway, street and highway capital and operations programs threatens the sustainability of any and all MTA transportation activities. Expenditures amounting to 25% of the entire $300 billion MTA budget may be simply written off against other more productive, albeit unprofitable components of MTA’s transportation authority. Losses of this magnitude are unsustainable under any funding regime or circumstances.
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