RTA PROFILE: SOUTHEASTERN REGIONAL TRANSIT AUTHORITY
The Southeastern Regional Transit Authority (SRTA) serves 10 communities in the most southern area of Massachusetts, bordering eastern Rhode Island. The majority of service is focused in Fall River and New Bedford; in addition, other providers serve the area with bus connections to Boston and Providence.
SRTA provides three types of services:
- Local fixed-route
- Tripper service to/from local schools
- ADA complementary paratransit
- Fixed-Route service
Most of SRTA's fixed-route service is focused on Fall River and New Bedford. There are 16 routes in the Fall River area, 14 of which operate to and from Fall River Terminal, and 15 routes in the New Bedford area, 12 of which operate to New Bedford Terminal. In addition, one route operates between Fall River and New Bedford via Route 6. Local services generally operate from 6:30 am to 7:00 pm on weekdays and Saturdays. Local service is not provided on Sundays and holidays. Most service operates every 30 minutes on weekdays and 60 minutes on Saturdays.
School tripper service is available to and from Durfee High School, New Bedford High School, Roosevelt Middle School, and Keith Middle School. Tripper service is offered only when school is in session.
SRTA's demand-responsive service, ADA complementary paratransit service, operates the same hours as fixed-route service and is available to individuals who are unable to use fixed-route services due to a disability. SRTA does not provide any paratransit service that goes beyond ADA requirements.
Most SRTA routes operate to and from either the New Bedford Terminal or the Fall River Terminal. Connections to regional services from these two hubs are available:
- DATTCO private carrier bus service between New Bedford and Boston's South Station via the New Bedford Park and Ride Lot and DATTCO's Fairhaven Terminal.
- Peter Pan service between New Bedford and Fall River and Providence, Boston, and New York City.
- New Bedford - Martha's Vineyard ferry service, which operates from New Bedford's State Pier, which is a short walk from the New Bedford Terminal.
- New Bedford - Cuttyhunk ferry service, which also departs from State Pier in New Bedford.
The current MassDOT South Coast Rail Project has a preferred corridor alignment that will bring commuter rail service to Freetown, Fall River Depot, Battleship Cove in Fall River, and King's Highway and Whale's Tooth in New Bedford.
As described above, most service operates to and from the New Bedford Terminal or the Fall River Terminal, which are SRTA's major passenger facilities. SRTA's administrative offices are located in the New Bedford Terminal. SRTA also has a garage and maintenance facility in both Fall River and New Bedford.
SRTA's basic fare is $1.25 per zone. Zones are closely related to town boundaries. Discounts are offered, including a 50% discount ($0.60 fare) for senior citizens, registered disabled riders, Medicare cardholders, and children between ages 6 and 11. Children under 6 ride for free. Passes are also available, including a 10-zone pass for both fixed-route and demand-responsive services, and 40-zone and unlimited monthly passes for fixed-route. A student pass is also available
In 2010, SRTA carried approximately 1.9 million passengers. Approximately 95% of these passengers used fixed-route services and the remainder used demand-responsive. As of 2010, SRTA carried the fifth highest volume of riders among Massachusetts RTAs and provides the seventh highest amount of service (in terms of vehicle hours).
2010 FLEET SIZE
In 2010, SRTA had 61 vehicles for fixed-route service and 22 vehicles for demand-responsive service Compared to other RTAs, SRTA has the sixth largest fixed-route fleet, and the fifth smallest demand-responsive fleet.
2010 OPERATING EXPENSES AND FARE REVENUES
In 2010, SRTA's total operating expenses were $12.1 million. Of this, $9.4 million, or 77%, was for fixed-route service, and 23% was for demand-responsive service. As of 2010, SRTA's operating costs were the fourth highest among RTAs (behind PVTA, WRTA, BAT, and CCRTA).
Fare revenue covered approximately 13% of SRTA's 2010 operating expenses. By type of service, fare revenues covered 15% of fixed-route costs and 6% of demand-responsive costs. SRTA collected the fifth highest amount of fare revenue among RTAs, but had only the sixth lowest farebox return ratio.
EFFECTIVENESS AND TRENDS1
Over the past 10 years, SRTA's ridership and productivity has declined. Most declines occurred between 2001 and 2006, with modest improvements since that time.
Between 2001 and 2010, total ridership has declined from 2.4 million to 1.9 million passengers per year. All of those declines represent declines in fixed-route ridership, and demand-response ridership has increased slightly. Fixed-route ridership declines were particularly steep between 2001 and 2006, when ridership declined by 34% from 2.4 million passengers per year to 1.6 million. Between then and 2010, it recovered slightly to 1.8 million.
Revenue Vehicle Hours
Since 2001, the total amount of service that SRTA has provided, in terms of revenue vehicle hours, has remained relatively stable. However, within the overall totals, fixed-route service hours have been reduced by almost 20%, while demand-responsive service hours have increased by 90%. With these changes, demand-response service now comprises 34% of all SRTA service..
Operating Costs and Fare Revenue
SRTA's operating costs increased from $9.5 million in 2001 to $12.0 million in 2010. This represents an increase of 27% over 10 years, or an average of 3% per year .By type of service, fixed-route costs increased by 25% and demand-responsive costs increased by 35%.
With large declines in ridership, farebox revenues have declined. Fixed-route fare revenues decreased by 15%, and demand-responsive fare revenues decreased by 6%.
Operating Cost per Passenger
Between 2001 and 2010, SRTA's operating cost per passenger for fixed-route service increased from $3.17 to $5.21, or by 64%. SRTA's operating cost per passenger for demand-response increased to a lesser extent, from $24.31 to $29.40, or by 21%. Operating costs per passenger have increased to a greater extent than total operating costs due to an overall decline in ridership. SRTA's 2010 operating cost per passenger is the eighth highest for RTAs.
Passengers per Revenue Vehicle Hour
Between 2001 and 2010, the total number of passengers that SRTA carried per revenue vehicle hour has declined from 20.1 to 18.8. There are two primary reasons for this: (1) large fixed-route ridership declines, and (2) a shift in the use of resources from fixed-route service to demand-response service. Fixed-route ridership declines (24%) were greater than fixed-route service reductions (20%), and demand-response ridership increases (12%) were much smaller than demand-response service increases (90%). In terms of passengers per revenue vehicle hour, the shift away from fixed-route service toward more demand-response service has made SRTA less productive.
Operating Cost per Revenue Vehicle Hour
Between 2001 and 2010, SRTA's fixed-route operating cost per service hour has increased by 54% from $63.81 to $97.97, while demand-response costs decreased by 29% from $78.89 to $56.14. Compared to other RTAs, in 2010, SRTA had the fifth highest fixed-route operating cost per revenue vehicle hour, and the sixth highest demand-response cost.
KEY FACTS/NOTABLE INITIATIVES
- A number of actions have been taken recently to improve SRTA's performance. These include management assistance from the Administrator of Brockton Area Transit (BAT), the recent hiring of a new Administrator and CFO, and a change to a new operating contractor (First Transit).
- A new bus terminal will be built in Fall River, right around the corner from the current site. The new terminal has been awarded federal funds to support its development. It is expected to be complete in 2012.
- SRTA recently used an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act assistance grant to replace about 26 buses in its fleet.
- SRTA will soon join other RTAs (CCRTA, MWRTA, and PVTA) by uploading its schedules onto Google Transit.
- SRTA is currently updating its website to be more attractive and user-friendly. The agency is soliciting input from the public during the re-design. SRTA is also updating its route schedules with additional bus stops and time points.