RTA won’t take advertiser’s money, while raising prices and cutting service

It’s time for heads to roll at RTA. While the board is being told that they have to cut routes and raise fairs, they aren’t being told that RTA chief Mark Donaghy fired his advertising sales person 3 years ago- and has failed to be able to figure out how to sell ads effectively since.

Advertising on the outside of buses is a way for private money to help subsidize the cost of running buses. It’s done in every major city across the country. In NYC it is one of the premium forms of outdoor advertising. In Dayton- I currently can’t buy an ad on a side of a bus because RTA is stuck in a contract with a company that failed to do the job that one woman handled for years.

Here is what Donaghy is suggesting from today’s Dayton Daily News:

Bus service cuts and fare increases were approved this morning, June 23, by Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority committees and will be sent to the full board for final action.

The finance/personnel and planning committees unanimously approved the changes recommended by Executive Director Mark Donaghy to resolve a projected $3.1 million 2009 deficit caused mostly by sharp declines in local sales tax revenues.

The full RTA board of trustees will vote July 7 on the proposal to raise adult bus fares 25 cents to $1.75, eliminate route 32 and reduce the frequency of service or the number of trips on several other routes. The changes would take effect in August.

The committees went along with Donaghy’s decision to not eliminate routes 65 and 66, which are two popular senior citizen bus routes, and late-night service that is used mostly by second- and third-shift workers.

The proposed fare increase would boost annual revenues by $1.25 million and the service cuts would save $3.2 million annually, Donaghy said.

via RTA committees vote to cut routes, hike fees.

No one is suggesting that running a bus company is easy, but, passing up on revenue that should be gravy, is an embarrassment.

It’s time for an investigation into why RTA can’t seem to get its ad sales program running, ASAP.

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RonJeffLarkinMarianne StanleyDavid Lauri Recent comment authors
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Who wants to be associated with RTA when they always get negative press?

The whole busing thing in Dayton needs to be reevaluated. Is it needed/used by the masses? No.
Pricing is out of line – they need to drop prices to get more customers. But my thought is most people could give a hoot, and those buses certainly pollute. Maybe Project Mobility is all we need to fund and sell bikes to people and offer huge incentives for businesses to start up in the city of Dayton.  But taxing people and wasting money seem to be the fun thing to do these days.


Wait, RTA has a contract with a company that’s supposed to handle OBTAINING advertisements? Or what? I’m a bit confused as to why this isn’t being done. Enlightenment?


When I was in Austin last month, it was $1.50 for the 24 hours, no transfer cost, etc… While it is a bigger city and likewise gets more riders and revenue, the quality of service was so much better than RTA. The biggest problem with RTA and public transit is the stigma associated with riding the bus if you can afford to drive. For $1.75, its cheaper for me to drive to work, and the srevice to the area where I work is spotty at best.

David Lauri

“Is it needed/used by the masses?”

Yes, let’s take a page from the book by Michael from the property tax thread.  This could be a first step towards eliminating government and taxes.  Anyone who wants mass transportation can simply pay his or her fair share to a private company providing such services.  As to people who can’t afford to pay their fair share, f ’em!

David Lauri

The automatic curly quotes thing is annoying.  “’em” is a contraction of “them” and thus should have an ending single quote in front of it, not a beginning single quote.  Or it could have just left the straight quote I’d typed alone (wait, am I advocating keeping something straight?).

Marianne Stanley

You seem to be the lone sane voice crying in the wilderness, David.  I can’t believe the heartlessness of those who would say, “f’em” for the down and out who have no other means of transportation and cannot afford to pay higher and higher rates.  I’m with YOU….let’s put some pressure on the RTA to kick their advertising sales program in the pants so that, if anything, prices can drop for those without any other form of transportation.   It is always those at the bottom who have more taken from them while those all comfy and cozy make the decisions that affect them.  Dayton should be ashamed that it is so blatantly putting the burden on those who have the least.

David Lauri

To quote something Ice Bandit has said to me on this blog, Marianne, sarcasm is sometimes difficult to detect in print.

Marianne Stanley

Aaaaack!   Sorry, about that, David!  I’ll put on my ‘Sarcasm Antennae’ from now on when I read.   Am I a little touchy about big money vs. the little guy, d’ya think?!??   Any ideas from anyone on how to get the RTA folks to back away from this inane solution to a problem, anyone?


In Switzerland, you buy a ticket and put it in your pocket.  Depending on the ticket you buy it’s good for diffferent time periods (a day, a week, etc.)  Then you get on the bus, trolley, whatever and ride away. Once in a great while, an inspector will go through a bus or trolley checking tickets. Those who don’t have a ticket are cited. The amazing thing is that most people have tickets most of the time. 

We looked hard at the RTA as an alternative to driving our son to school every day. But the so-called passes they offer for students are so limited in scope that they are basically useless. But then Clay Dixon, who is on the RTA board, told me he would NEVER allow his granddaughter to ride the RTA to school, well . . . we drive.  

The whole system needs to be restructured from the ground up. Lower fares, more buses, less complicated to use, more advertising, implementation of a better hub (maybe the Greyhound station since Greyhound is going to Trotwood) and completion of the 3rd street pass-through. (What brain trust thought it was a good idea to put the bus station on the most prominent block in the downtown?) 

Start with chopping off the head. 


Hardly anyone uses RTA as an alternative to fuel cost/environmental concerns. It is generally cheaper to drive your car when you want than to wait on a bus that uses a billion gallons of gas to transport 3 people, including the bus driver.

Heck, word was DE went to the Fraze (via his Tweet) and could have taken the bus, stopped at the Old Pugs, then go to the Fraze, then back. But it would have cost  at least  $9.00 or so for 3 people. Not cheap for a 3.5 miles of action.

Yes, some people need the RTA. But 98% never use RTA but tax money funds it, not to mention the pollution and the transportation of criminals, to some degree.

It is a waste of time and money for most of us. But keep on taking our money and giving it to special bs projects. After all, our money is free and easy to come by.


Two blog posts mapping out RTA’s high-volume routes. 



RTA high volume lines are in predominantly black neighborhoods, followed by East Dayon.   But its interesting that they could expand the system to Xenia and Fairborn and maybe pick up riders since there are suprsing numbers of carless houeholds there.


I agree that RTA needs some fare restructuring (an all-day pass would be nice, along with eliminating the transfer fee… unlimited transfers within 2 hours of buying the ticket would make sense), but unless your daily communte is 10 blocks, RTA is without a doubt cheaper than driving.  If you use it regularly, you’re going to buy a monthly pass, not $1.75 tickets for every ride.

Just to compare expenses, I drove from the Oregon District to school at WSU five days a week in May.  Aside from one trip to cincy that month, the straight back-and-forth commute cost me almost $70 of gas in a 26 mpg car, in addition to the $24 parking pemit for the quarter.  A monthly RTA pass is $45.  And because I’m thrifty, I picked up their $20 monthly passes at the Green Living festival last year.  So yeah, last year I was commuting for $20/month (along with reading 2 books/month and alleviating my road rage) and now I’m spending about 3x that in gas (not including insurance and the oil change I got).

Is it less convenient?  Yes.  You travel according to RTA’s schedule rather than your own.  But the argument that RTA is more expensive is false if you’re driving the US average 25 mile commute.


RTA = Return To Akron.
RTA  = Remember The Alamo
RTA = Repeat Traffic Accidents
RTA = Risk  To Anyone
RTA = Run Towards Alaska
RTA = Restructure The Assets
RTA = Robbing Transportation Association

Marianne Stanley

This isn’t about RTA being ‘cheaper than driving’!  It’s about people who have the least and who have the fewest options, having even more of their precious little money taken from them when there are other ways to support the cost of maintaining bus routes.  We’re not talking about people with cars and money for gas choosing between driving and taking the bus at all.  Many who have ‘enough’ just cannot conceive of people not having even an extra nickel.  It’s time we begin to realize that there are many, many folks who have almost nothing and cannot afford even a 25 cent per ride cost increase.


“We’re not talking about people with cars and money for gas choosing between driving and taking the bus at all.”


Maybe you’re not, but I wasn’t addressing you. I was addressing the comments of “for $1.75, its cheaper for me to drive to work” and “it is generally cheaper to drive your car,” which are sentiments that have proved to be inaccurate in my experience.