Now the treasury function is outsourced to Brinks and with the cost-savings, they are essentially deploying more people into customer service so if and when someone has an issue with their card or need to check values, customer service can work on that.
The consulting group that’s working with them on this is LTK and the project manager was also involved with the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority’s Breeze card. By rolling the card out in waves, it creates a help with the learning curve.
And the biggest question ...
The big concern on everyone’s mind in transit is, of course, funding. In Pennsylvania, the dominant funding source is from the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. “Pennsylvania puts more money into transit than almost any state in the nation and that’s historically been true,” Bland says.
Like other North American transit agencies, the Port Authority has seen significant funding cuts. “Our fiscal year 2011 to fiscal 2012 saw about $53-1/2 million reduction,” Bland says. And that was after several years of no growth in either state or local funding, he adds.
They’re projecting to start the next fiscal year with a $64 million deficit. “Our total operating budget is about $360 million and that’s after the last five years, frankly, of putting in a huge number of efficiency changes, including service reduction.”
He says in the last five years, they’ve reduced the overall sub-service level in terms of hours by about 30 percent. “We’re still at about 95 or 96 percent of our previous ridership level and in fact, ridership over the past year has gone up.”
And he knows they’re not alone. “I talked to SEPTA last week and ... they’re essentially spending down most of their reserves to get through operating without significant service reductions or fare increases.
“Our governor took office about a year and a half ago. He appointed a transportation funding advisory commission, which developed a number of recommendations that came out last summer.” Bland continues, “Frankly we’re all — when I say ‘we all,’ that’s the transit agency, the Port Authority riders, road and bridge folks — are just waiting for the governor and the legislature to take action on the report.”
Working in Transit
“Transit to me was always the best of the public and private sector,” Bland says. “We have a product, a service we’re trying to sell, market, and price. “It’s a public service and we’re dealing in the public realm with the political end of it and trying to make the case more broadly than just directly with our customers.”