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May 9, 2011


Tracking Your Stimulus Dollars: Bike Racks For Buses?

by Deena Winter

Good question asked by 1011 News reporter Keller Russell: What economic benefit does the city get from the $140,000 in federal stimulus dollars that were used to buy bike racks for Lincoln’s city buses?
Watch it or read it here: Tracking Your Stimulus Dollars: Bike Racks For Buses?.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Gene
    May 9 2011

    I love these things.

    It would seem that they would make transportation to and from work easier for some and possibly open up some job possibilities that weren’t there before.

  2. Matthew Platte
    May 9 2011

    I opened up a spreadsheet and started guesstimating.

    Biggest assumption: that the cost of owning and operating an automobile exactly equals the cost of maintaining a transit ticket. Advantage goes to the automobile since even the cheapest rust bucket costs more per year than a $45×12 bus pass, and how many cars get 36mpg in the city?

    Second assumption: a bike/bus round trip is 12 miles. Your car gets 36mpg and fuel is $3.50, so each bike/bus trip “saves” you $1.17 that would otherwise leave Lincoln to boost Big Oil’s billion-dollar profits.

    Since you’re biking more, you really should spend that extra dollar on food at Pepe’s or drinks at Meadowlark, multiplying the local economic benefit of your transportation dollar.

    Back to the spreadsheet, if each bike/bus trip frees up $1.17 in cash that would have been spent on gasoline but now buys burritos, how many such trips does it take to offset the original investment? (Never mind that Lincoln residents paid a tiny fraction of that particular investment and there’s no repayment plan — an issue for another day.) Answer: 119,658.

    Over a hudred thousand trips!? Wow, that’s quite a few. Assume that each year there are 240 bike-able days and a three-year payback plan, the transit system would need 187 trips per day to repay the original investment. Divide that by fifteen buses, the daily number is 12 bike/bus round trips per day per bus to recoup the original investment. There are sixteen routes and more than 50 buses in the fleet….

    Of course, the reality is quite different in that 1) the economic benefit begins immediately since there is no direct payback involved and 2) the actual economic benefit, if it could be accurately measured, from each bike/bus round trip is undoubtedly more than a mere buck seventeen. 3) the racks will probably last more than three years.

  3. Jason Christenson
    May 9 2011

    That’s interesting, however, it seems unlikely that anyone is suddenly ditching their cars in favor of a bus pass, more likely the people using the bike racks were already StarTran patrons.

  4. CS
    May 9 2011

    But more bikers that dont ride on days with questionable weather can now ride one way and ‘hitch’ a ride back, as an option. Bikers that ride and over do it in the morning have an option to get home again.

    I fail to see the negative here, as every ride = 1 drive not done on roads, reducing the damage to said roads, thus reducing your tax costs to fix them. Stop bitching when you are behind me when Im on the right and thank me instead for saving you money.

  5. Gene
    May 10 2011

    Additionally, not all projects have a job creation benefit to the cities or states where the money is awarded. There are plenty of stimulus awards that fund major equipment items that are manufactured in other states.


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