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I think this discussion highlights the importance of having proper context for any analyses we perform in any industry, not a definitive answer to whether route by route cost to revenue analysis is appropriate for transit. In most other industries, companies do perform "branch by branch" analyses and put findings to good use in many cases. I would argue for transit, we should look at similar context to other industries for such analysis. The context I would most like to see for our system is customer satisfaction. And, of course, we must be aware customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction and profitability (operating ratio in the transit world) move in tandem over the long run. If we really want to fault the route planning for poor performing routes, we should be able to identify the market conditions that were insufficient to support the planned route to confirm planning is at fault. So if your service evaluation is done for any real purpose, it should be to help you identify where "management attention" is needed to bringing some branches up to standard for the organization. Having "cut the service" as the first response to lack luster performance of an individual route is a self-fulfilling prophecy for failing service.
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Oct 7, 2012