Friday, January 28, 2022 Jan 28, 2022
42° F Dallas, TX

MONKEY SHINE ECONOMICS

By  |

By The Numbers Put simply, a transit agency’s “farebox recovery ratio” is the money collected from buses divided by what it costs to run the things. But no one ever puts it simply. And that’s what bothers longtime DART gadfly ed cage. DART’s method of calculating its farebox recovery ratio, Cage says, makes it look as if DART is bringing in more dollars per dollar spent-and hence is doing a better job- than it really is. Using a rarely heard accounting term, Cage says DART’s method is “nothing but monkey shine.”

There may be something to Cage’s complaint. Take this definition from DART, for example: “Bus operating costs include all costs of the Operations Department, except for the costs in the Paratransit cost center, plus the Service Demand and Analysis Division costs, and a 15 percent benefits allocation on direct labor.” Uh, say what? Transit agencies we checked-Houston, Denver, and St. Louis-use similar “monkey shine” words, but do use a simpler formula.

Goaded by Cage, DART has added a new formula that DART spokesman RON WHITTINGTON says is called the “Ed Cage way.” But Cage complains that DART is still putting out the better number. For the record, here’s both figures for December 1989: 29.1 percent if you figure the old way; 23.4 percent the Ed Cage way. You can take that to the bank. We think.