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Slick Vik

At 30, DART still faces growing pains

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Interestingly, they point out several times that Houston's transit system is more efficient, better used, and less expensive. DART is a perfect example of why simply laying down track is no guarantee whatsoever of an efficient transit system. Dallas would have gained much more ridership by following Houston's lead (Park&Ride busses in highway medians), as opposed to the other way around.

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Although they mention how much larger the current debt service is than fare revenue, I'm really surprised that they don't talk about the amount that debt service grows by in the future. The debt service is about $180 million for 2013 against fare revenue of approx. $60 million. That debt service grows slightly through 2017 and then becomes over a billion annually from 2018-2037 before decreasing slightly from 2038-2042 and that's based only on existing construction not on future growth of the system. Those are some really big numbers.

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Although they mention how much larger the current debt service is than fare revenue, I'm really surprised that they don't talk about the amount that debt service grows by in the future. The debt service is about $180 million for 2013 against fare revenue of approx. $60 million. That debt service grows slightly through 2017 and then becomes over a billion annually from 2018-2037 before decreasing slightly from 2038-2042 and that's based only on existing construction not on future growth of the system. Those are some really big numbers.

Where are you getting those projections from? The extension to DFW opens next year, and with the TEX rail coming to DFW from Fort Worth, that could help DART ridership quite a bit.

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Where are you getting those projections from? The extension to DFW opens next year, and with the TEX rail coming to DFW from Fort Worth, that could help DART ridership quite a bit.

From the 2012 DART Comprehensive Annual Financial Statement. So let's assume that the airport extension opens next year, it's wildly successful and it doubles passenger revenues, which I think is far more optimistic than anyone projects. That lowers your annual operating loss from $565 million to about $500 million and doesn't change your overall debt picture at all.

http://www.dart.org/ShareRoot/debtdocuments/FY2012ComprehensiveAnnualFinancialReport.pdf

The debt numbers are on page 47. There's a total of $7.2 billion owed over the next 35 years and as Tory has pointed out in his column previously, that doesn't include system replacement costs that will be incurred during that time.

Edited by livincinco

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Very interesting. I did read an article on the Dallas Morning News that DART just completed the line to Rowlett and nobody rides it. Also to Plano so DART has longer wait times to cut cost. Last time I was there I rode the line to Richardson and took me 45 minutes. That is a lot of debt they are in trouble.

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Although they mention how much larger the current debt service is than fare revenue, I'm really surprised that they don't talk about the amount that debt service grows by in the future. The debt service is about $180 million for 2013 against fare revenue of approx. $60 million. That debt service grows slightly through 2017 and then becomes over a billion annually from 2018-2037 before decreasing slightly from 2038-2042 and that's based only on existing construction not on future growth of the system. Those are some really big numbers.

 

 

From the 2012 DART Comprehensive Annual Financial Statement. So let's assume that the airport extension opens next year, it's wildly successful and it doubles passenger revenues, which I think is far more optimistic than anyone projects. That lowers your annual operating loss from $565 million to about $500 million and doesn't change your overall debt picture at all.

http://www.dart.org/ShareRoot/debtdocuments/FY2012ComprehensiveAnnualFinancialReport.pdf

The debt numbers are on page 47. There's a total of $7.2 billion owed over the next 35 years and as Tory has pointed out in his column previously, that doesn't include system replacement costs that will be incurred during that time.

Those are scary numbers, for sure.  (BTW,  p. 30 is the where I found their annual total debt service projections.)

 

I found Metro's 2012 annual report online, also.  However, I'm not an accountant and I am not sure how to find an apples-to-apples comparison.  Unlike the DART report, Metro's doesn't project total debt service into the future.   However, at the bottom of p. 35 in Metro's report I see ~$71 million listed for annual debt payment in 2012, without any projected values for future years.  DART's report projects total 2013 debt service of $181 million before tax credits.  As you cited, that number rises above $1 billion in 2018.

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Those are scary numbers, for sure. (BTW, p. 30 is the where I found their annual total debt service projections.)

I found Metro's 2012 annual report online, also. However, I'm not an accountant and I am not sure how to find an apples-to-apples comparison. Unlike the DART report, Metro's doesn't project total debt service into the future. However, at the bottom of p. 35 in Metro's report I see ~$71 million listed for annual debt payment in 2012, without any projected values for future years. DART's report projects total 2013 debt service of $181 million before tax credits. As you cited, that number rises above $1 billion in 2018.

I'd look at this one. METRO is in better shape than DART, but they still have about $1.6 billion in long term obligations. In some ways though, they've got the same challenge. The annual operating loss is so big that it consumes the full amount of the sales tax funds that are received. That doesn't leave any room for expansion without further bond measures or federal funding.

http://www.ridemetro.org/FinancialAuditInformation/Pdfs/2013/2012-CAFR-032813.pdf

Edited by livincinco

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I'd look at this one. METRO is in better shape than DART, but they still have about $1.6 billion in long term obligations. In some ways though, they've got the same challenge. The annual operating loss is so big that it consumes the full amount of the sales tax funds that are received. That doesn't leave any room for expansion without further bond measures or federal funding.

http://www.ridemetro.org/FinancialAuditInformation/Pdfs/2013/2012-CAFR-032813.pdf

Federal funding paid for a significant amount of the three lines are about to open. Hopefully some funds could be applied to university line as well.

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