Councilwoman Diane Dixon’s unpopular trolley system which was overwhelmingly voted to NOT exist to begin with by the population as a whole has finally come to the end of its first year. And by “first year”, I mean that the city spent $240,000 to allow it to operate for 28 days. Yep, you read that correctly.
The bus system is funded by a combination of County-wide Measure M funds as well as stolen funds from the Newport Beach General Fund which are diverted to Dixon cronies who utilize it to promote their own businesses.
The County Measure M funds cover only a maximum of 90% of the ridership costs. In Newport, we are getting only 88% covered… but we could get more, because Measure M either covers 90% or $9/passenger/way– whichever is less. In our case, the city’s original estimates put the cost of the bus at $22/passenger/way, endangering their funding source. They would need to document more than doubling their original estimations in order to continue funding the bus in the fashion that they do.
Now everyone knows that with the exception of a very small number of days, those buses ran around mostly empty, with 3-4 people on them on the times that they weren’t. The city, on the other hand, claims that an average of 900 people per day were on this bus system as a whole, which had four buses running for 11 hours per day– so let’s do the math on that:
900 passengers / 4 buses = 225 per bus per day.
225 passengers / 11 hours of service = 20.45 passengers per bus per hour
Since 4 buses make the stops every 15 minutes, that means the route is one hour long, meaning that each route contains an entire busload of people– on average. That is what the city is asking you to believe is the truth.
Coincidentally, this helps the funding for next year– but let’s dissect that number even a little bit more and pretend that it’s true:
Let’s pretend that the buses really do have 20+people/hr (each round trip)… that means– on average– that’s 10 passengers each direction. By city’s own estimates, each car in the area carries an average of 3 people each. That means that this bus replaces 3.1 cars. An Uber costs $6 to get from PCH to the Pavilion, meaning 3.1 of these Ubers would cost $18.60 rather than the per-person cost of $9 (9*10=$90) from the city. But again– we have the Downtowner which operates for $0, so comparing the highest-cost-per-rider-option in the entirety of Newport vs an Uber is a moot point.
So we’re a higher cost than Uber, the size of the bus makes it a traffic congestion clogger– as the city admits “buses snarl traffic”– and even if the city’s numbers are accurate (they are not– not by a long shot), this program costs more than 4x what an Uber would cost, making it a failure on every possible level.
Our hope is that the city sees these indisputable numbers and throws in the towel on this massive waste of taxpayer money. It’s time to stop the bleed.