City to Consider StarMetro Changes

City to Consider StarMetro Changes

Today, the Tallahassee City Commission will considers changes to StarMetro operations in an effort to improve timeliness.

StarMetro management reports that since bus routes were changed from a centralized “hub-and-spoke” model to a decentralized, grid-like system in 2011, on-time performance has decreased.

StarMetro’s bus service is currently on-time 79 percent of all instances, multiple points below the national average of 85 percent. Timeliness of bus routes has a direct impact on customer satisfaction, which StarMetro recently affirmed through a survey of customers.  

On December 19, 2018 during peak travel hours, a 12-question, voluntary survey was given to riders at the C.K. Steele Plaza. The survey generated a high response rate with a total of 186 participants. The survey consisted of open-ended questions regarding satisfaction with routes, and on-time performance.

Using this data, staff was able to create simple solutions related to route optimization, and improved bus frequency, both of which were identified as hindering on-time performance. Other proposals include:

  • splitting longer routes that cross the city into separate routes connecting at C.K. Steele Plaza;
  • adding more buses to certain routes;
  • merging routes that already align;
  • and moving routes from higher traffic roads to parallel lower traffic roads.

As a result of this effort, StarMetro is planning multiple changes to improve on-time performance and overall customer experience. 

Four of the current 15 weekday fixed routes (not-including Seminole Express) will have no changes. The Canopy route will be discontinued, as service is already provided by two other routes along the West Tennessee Street corridor. The two buses from Canopy will be reallocated to improve on-time performance on the Big Bend and Azalea routes.

Staff projects these changes will increase service frequency from 60 minutes to 30 minutes, especially during peak travel, which will improve customer satisfaction. The changes also address specific citizens’ requests, such as better service to the Macon Community and additional stops on John Knox Road.

Following the 30-day feedback period, StarMetro will reevaluate proposed service improvements, and will then finalize service changes prior to implementation for the start of the new school year (Saturday, August 3, 2019) in alignment with industry standards.

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15 Responses to "City to Consider StarMetro Changes"

  1. TONY   May 15, 2019 at 2:24 pm

    When I was married, we lived in 4 different locations inside the City Limits and we both worked down town for the State and would you believe, not a single Bus route made a stop with in a Mile of our work places? To be able to be dropped off with in a couple of Blocks to our Work Places, we would have to of gone to the CK Steel Plaza first. This is why I will NEVER use the Bus.

    Reply
  2. John   May 15, 2019 at 4:22 pm

    They surveyed existing riders regarding suggested improvements but not folks who do not ride regarding what changes need to be made so they will ride?

    I almost believe a fleet of vans rather than buses is needed.

    Also, perhaps it is cheaper to pay for most folks to use taxis/Uber rather than purchase/maintain a fleet of vehicles/drivers/mechanics and overpaid managers?

    Reply
    • Charlie   May 16, 2019 at 3:23 pm

      A bus ticket cost $1.25. A taxi or Uber will run you over $15.00 just to go around the block. Car people don’t have a clue what alternate transportation cost.

      Reply
  3. Do The Math   May 15, 2019 at 9:50 pm

    Outsource to Uber; pay the bill, sell the buses and save $10 million per year. Simple math. A complete and totally moronic system. Ridership numbers to try and justify this debacle are completely made up.

    Reply
  4. News Maven   May 15, 2019 at 10:37 pm

    Just name me one city run by libs that has a profitable bus service. One.
    At least in the ATL MARTA runs right to the airport, and in Chicago, the trains stop at O’Hare and Midway.
    Here? NO service to TLH.
    Thanks, taxi lobbyists.

    Reply
  5. Mr. Entropy   May 16, 2019 at 10:39 am

    Slowly
    Taking
    Americans
    Randomly,

    Messing
    Every
    Traffic
    Route
    Option

    The money to pay for it all comes from everyone’s property taxes, which means there is a complete disconnect between provider and ‘customer’. They could run the buses around the newly acquired Northwood Mall* parking lot all day and doubtless few Tallahassee citizens would notice, much less complain. Which….is what’s happening anyway.

    *don’t get me started on that boondoggle.

    Reply
    • News Maven   May 18, 2019 at 6:06 pm

      Excellent point about the disconnect, Mr. E.
      If there are no buses to inside the Killearn Estates/Lakes/Acres or Golden Eagle neighborhoods, the city’s portion of their property taxes should be lowered. And for those property owners along bus routes, raise their property taxes to pay for the service.

      Reply
      • reallynow   May 19, 2019 at 8:45 pm

        lolol you think those neighborhoods provide enough of a tax base to cover the cost of their infrastructure upkeep. that is hilarious. they’re subsidized by the very neighborhoods you’re talking down upon. you should learn more about how cities work before commenting on them.

        Reply
  6. Seandi Forbes   May 17, 2019 at 6:58 am

    I’ve been a customer rider on Star Metro from the first day of the company’s start.
    At times I have to be at work at 4:00am. And have to walk to work.
    I suggest that during the route changes you are making. Take a look at starting at least the Pensacola St route at 3:00am and extend service hours for all routes till at least 2:00am in the night hours. Because a lot of people including myself will need a ride home from work.

    Reply
  7. Kim   May 17, 2019 at 6:58 am

    If the City did not give so many free bus passes to the homeless who are mainly just riding around not looking for jobs, there could be more money for more buses and more routes.

    Reply
  8. Tommy   May 17, 2019 at 8:24 am

    As a regular and frequent user of the bus system, some of the comments are way off target. The bus system only needs tweeking. And if you’ve never used the system you don’t have clue of what is going on. You have to experience the different rides and schedule and that in itself takes time. Uber or anyother soft rides will not serve the large number users per hour let alone per day. Be for real and stop this nonsense comments. Be apart of the solution and not the problem.

    Reply
  9. ROBERT   May 17, 2019 at 12:11 pm

    Add more buses On longer route , If you have two on the route try 3 buses to cut time. Try charging homeless people 25 to 50 cent’s they do have money sometimes. You do need to go BY both Hospitals every day and at a later time of the night. The routes that have less traffic use less buses.More traffic more buses. Go into black naberhoods more If the people’s are riding.Charge Student 25 to 50 to ride.You may have to buy a few more buses to put on longer routes.

    Reply
  10. Anonymous   May 17, 2019 at 1:30 pm

    1. [TONY]: I don’t know how long ago the first responder worked downtown & attempted to use the bus, because it’s currently not the case AT ALL (& hasn’t been the last 5 years since I started using StarMetro. I work downtown. The D & T go up Duval, the B goes up Monroe, the F across College & there’s even a Southwood route that reaches down to the state offices.

    2. [John]: The point of the 30 day feedback period is so people like you can have input. That being said, you’re suggesting subsidized ride-sharing services? How do you propose we cover the costs per-ride? How do you assess the liabilities? We prepared for a City-Uber union who’d likely demand personnel services like other city employees? There’s currently a “van” service provided by StarMetro (Dial-A-Ride) for curbside assistance, though, twice as expensive as a bus fare ($2.50) due to inconsistent routes at the benefit of avoiding transfers & fewer stops. Personnel services are a majority of the StarMetro budget. One bus driver for say 10 people, or 10 Uber drivers at $10 a pop? Sounds to me like a lazy man’s alternative to not have to walk 10 minutes to a bus stop & arrive on time.

    3. [Do the Math]: Cab meters start at $2.50. It’s $25 for me to take a cab to the airport from Midtown. We’re going to be subsidizing this on an individualized ride-by-ride basis? Uber rides for me getting around town from Midtown are on average $10-11 each, to get to Bradfordville it’s more often than not over $40 ONE WAY. The bus is $1.25/ride including a transfer or $38/month (which is actually significantly cheaper than not having a monthly pass). Dream on with that tax increase! Not to mention it’s counter to the point of MASS transit by incentivizing more vehicles on the roads, increasing traffic congestion & contributing to the downgrade of our air quality. Again, how does a subsidized payroll of ten individual Uber rides make more fiscal sense than a payroll for one bus that drives ten people?

    4. [News Maven]: Absolutely on point. A route to TLH is needed, though it would have to be optimized to coordinate with flight schedules for it to be viable. I would even venture to suggest working on a regional system working with neighboring counties to provide services with fewer stops. It would be beneficial for the local economies to provide a cheaper alternative to driving to & from town. There are many people in outlying counties who have court cases in Tallahassee they’re unable to attend due to lack of transportation. This alone would free a lot of time & tax dollars, as cases aren’t prolonged due to a failure to appear. It would also provide for a greater connection of our people. What I envision is something akin to Peter Pan in New England. We can utilize the city’s placemaking strategies as stops connecting at Steele:
    – Gadsden (Ochlockonee, Midway, Quincy, Gretna, Chattahoochee)
    – Decatur (Huntington, Havana, Attapulgus, Bainbridge)
    – Thomas[/Lowndes] (Market Square, Bradfordville, Thomasville, [Quitman, Valdosta])
    – Taylor (Buck Lake, Monticello, Lamont, Perry)
    – Franklin[/Gulf] (West Woodville, Crawfordville, Sopchoppy, Carabelle, Eastpoint[/Apalachicola, Port St. Joe])

    5. [Mr. Entropy]: Routes could certainly be improved upon, though you forget the customer pays a fare; it’s not a free service. Less than 1% of our property value is taxed in Leon County. 2.4% of our local taxes cover operational costs for StarMetro, of which 41% operational cost is funded. Where shall we make up for the loss of $6.6 million annual revenue from fares IN ADDITION TO spending more money for these Uber fare subsidies? I’m curious what y’all are thinking with all this proposed spending while you complain about tax rates being too high. This mentality is exactly why our state government is $129B in debt with a $30B deficit. Privatization cost us more money. They’re trying to operate for a profit, whereas a state-run service is not operating for a profit unless there’s a budget surplus. The 2016 budget has us spending $2,000 per capita more than we give in taxes. As a collective, we each owe $6k per capita in order to get out of debt. Why do people insist on outsourcing with government contracts? Do we want our local governments operating like the military industrial complex, giving away tax dollars to companies that undervalue their true costs? Our city budget breaks even, & our millage rate is lower than most major cities in Florida. Is it really worth the complaint?

    6. [Tommy]: Agreed. Most of the operating costs for the StarMetro fleet goes toward personnel services. These peoples’ proposals serve to expand the employee base pool in favor for a far more expensive alternative, offering no tangible solutions that the current ridership would serve to benefit. The fact the people who don’t use the bus think they understand the priorities to address customer service & wait times is a bit of a joke, considering they’re not even a customer. By switching to an all-electric fleet, we could allocate an extra $6M a year for other projects, but we must first pay for these buses & we’ll need a LOT of them. I also suggest a marquee at Steele Plaza which tells you which gate to go to & any route changes.

    Reply
    • TONY   May 20, 2019 at 8:33 am

      You do realize that the Buses you named D, T, B & F do NOT go near St. Augustine and it looks like they are mainly for the Down Town / Mid Town areas. SO, your response does not help with what I posted but proves it.

      Reply
  11. Anonymous II   May 18, 2019 at 9:55 pm

    Anonymous – You are obviously a City Employee who works directly for Star Metro or City of Tallahassee Communication’s Group (Alison Faris?) Nice try on the mis-Information. Stick to the facts It’s an overtly EXPENSIVE system funded by tax payers who don’t use it. It’s called taxation without representation. If you taxed or costed out to the very few people who do use it; it couldn’t possibly support a single bus. Shame on City of Tallahassee.

    Reply

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