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GM Survey: Budgets stabilize, revenue alts sought

Posted on September 24, 2012 by Janna Starcic, Executive Editor

In a turnaround from last year’s General Manager Survey, nearly 60% of respondents are not facing a budget shortage. Of those reporting an issue, 61% cut service, while 58% raised fares and 40% eliminated positions in order to cope. To deal with rising costs such as healthcare and fuel prices, GMs  are revisiting contract charges annually, and cutting back on discretionary costs (i.e. advertising); establishing wellness programs and purchasing fuel in contract blocks; as well as reducing workers comp exposure and purchasing more fuel-efficient buses.

We asked transit executives what they thought of the new transportation bill (MAP-21). Some said it was too early to tell, or were indifferent, while some liked the changes to New Starts evaluation critera and the move toward formula funds. Others disliked that it was only a two-year bill and that Positive Train Control requirements were not adjusted to realistic expectations.

Looking at the makeup of our survey respondents, four out of five were male, while the number of average years worked in the industry was 23. The average annual salary was $113,000, with the highest reported being nearly $300,000 and the lowest being under $33,000. A majority of respondents (63%) feel transit executives are paid fairly, while nearly nine out of ten do not ride their own systems to work. Transit executives spent nearly half of their time dealing with governmental/public affairs, with business/budget dealings coming in second.

Three out of four transit executives cite advertising as an additional way to generate revenue. Applying for state and federal grants, as well as selling maintenance services and acting as a local agent for Greyhound are “other” methods being employed.

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