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Muni League: Clearing the air so region can make progress on transportation

Guest Opinion: As we look for solutions to transit and road needs, it's important to understand that Metro Transit is making progress on financial and management issues.
Metro bus service is about to shrink.

Metro bus service is about to shrink. Photo: Seattle Municipal Archives

The Municipal League Foundation of King County recommended a Yes vote on Proposition 1, the recently defeated countywide transportation measure. We reached this decision after weighing both sides and determining that it was important to maintain current Metro bus service and fix the county’s backlog of road and bridge maintenance needs. Currently, some Metro routes have buses that are filled to capacity, leaving riders to wait for later buses, and there are increasing complaints about roads and bridges in unincorporated King County.

As the debate about regional transportation moves out of the intersection of this recent campaign, the Municipal League would like to provide context for our recommendation and help usher in a broader conversation about the future of transportation infrastructure and the role Metro.

The defeat of Proposition 1 leaves our growing region with an either-or set of options: begin phasing in bus service reductions and leave roads and bridges in poor condition or get on the Initiative 118 bandwagon to go with a Seattle-only measure. Or perhaps Mayor Ed Murray will develop a third way for us to consider.

The Municipal League would like to set the record straight about our Yes recommendation on Proposition 1. Elements of our full position statement and our past Metro Transit reports were taken out of context by opponents of Proposition 1 in the recent public debate and post-election analysis.

The Municipal League of King County, founded in 1910, advocates for good government and the development of critical infrastructure in our region. Recognizing public transportation’s vital role in our region’s economic and environmental future, we have invested considerable time monitoring Metro Transit over the past decade.

Our 2008 Review of Metro Transit report described the agency’s weaknesses in addressing service allocation, performance measurement, and strategic planning. In 2013, we issued our follow-up report on the progress made by the agency, but found that considerable work remains to be done, particularly in regard to the agency’s budgeting, financial reporting and cost control processes. Given our current, slow-growing economy, we remain concerned about Metro’s struggle to address long-standing financial issues. However, Proposition 1 critics failed to mention that our 2013 report described many service and productivity improvements and successes including Lean Six Sigma process redesign initiatives that Metro has initiated under the leadership of King County Executive Dow Constantine and implemented by Metro’s General Manager Kevin Desmond.

The opponents of Proposition 1 argued that Metro’s finances are unsustainable, so we should vote against the measure. In our reports and ballot recommendation, the Municipal League highlighted actions Metro had already taken to deliver service more cost-effectively, including improved scheduling, reduced staff and the shifting of funds from capital investment to operations. The agency has been making significant efforts to slow the growth of expenses and to operate more efficiently. The problem would not have been solved overnight even if Proposition 1 had passed. These efforts will now become more difficult and will take longer to resolve.

The recent debate elicited strong opinions about the wages paid to Metro drivers. Unfortunately, most of the claims did not take into account that the Constantine administration has been successful in getting a previous 3 percent wage increase "floor" removed, negotiated a wage freeze in 2011, and then held increases to inflation for the past two years. At this moment, King County is going into mediation with the bus operators’ union (ATU 587) on the latest contract proposal that would hold any raises for three years.

Finally, opponents raised the argument during the recent campaign that too much transit service is allocated to Seattle. This issue of sub-area service allocation was settled a few years ago through the work of the Regional Transit Task Force. We believe strongly that this matter should remain settled since no new information has been presented to warrant re-opening it. Metro’s service allocation should continue to be prioritized to direct service to where the riders are and where they need to go.

The Municipal League considered both Metro’s recent history and our region’s current needs, including roads and bridges, before deciding to support Proposition 1. While we are concerned that Metro has financial problems that still require long-term solutions, ultimately, we believe our region’s future will not be well served if Metro is not supported in meeting the increasing ridership demand. We recommended a Yes vote on Proposition 1, because Metro service cutbacks will likely roll back the agency’s historic gains in ridership. These gains are reshaping the way many King County residents navigate our region and the cutbacks have potentially severe impacts on low-income residents.

Anyone who lives or works in King County knows we need to provide transportation options and maintain our roads and bridges. We also need to thoughtfully discuss how we will implement plans for growing communities. We must ensure that citizens have transportation choices, safeguard our clean environment, and understand how our everyday choices affect climate change. As an organization, the Municipal League is committed to expanding constructive public debate and solving these difficult issues for the long term. We can’t remain stuck in an intersection of sound bites. 

Chuck Sloane is chair of the Municipal League Foundation. William Gould is co-chair of the Municipal League Transportation Committee.


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Comments:

Posted Mon, May 12, 5:24 a.m. Inappropriate

"Finally, opponents raised the argument during the recent campaign that too much transit service is allocated to Seattle. This issue of sub-area service allocation was settled a few years ago through the work of the Regional Transit Task Force. We believe strongly that this matter should remain settled since no new information has been presented to warrant re-opening it. Metro’s service allocation should continue to be prioritized to direct service to where the riders are and where they need to go."

The Regional Transit Task Force was a hand-pick group put together by Dow Constantine and Fred Jarrett, with the sole purpose of eliminating the old 40/40/20 service allocation directive at METRO. Given a free hand, Constantine and METRO indeed have directed additional hours to Seattle...and continued to have everyone else in the County subsidize it. Of course the Muni-League folks cannot seem to recognize the frustration of those cities and residents who were asked to subsidize the system even more than they already are, or face the bulk of the cuts. Yes proponents like the Muni-League are simply a non governmental arm of the County and METRO on this issue, they always have been and always will be. Post game "the opponents took our arguements out of context" makes this crystal clear to everyone.

Cameron

Posted Mon, May 12, 6:59 a.m. Inappropriate

This piece completely ignores the reason no new general tax revenue is needed: taxing for transit here is higher than it should be already.

The bus and train services providers here do not need any more tax revenue. They already haul in FAR more tax than any of their peers. Just look at the facts. Everyone can compare the amounts of regressive transit tax confiscations here to how much taxing for transit is done elsewhere.

There is only one way to gauge how well a transit system’s leadership is able to maximize local tax revenue. To determine whether excess taxing is going on for bus and train service compare 1) the total amount of taxing to 2) the number of average weekday boardings. The average weekday boardings figure is key because it indicates how many people usually are served at the peak periods.

Comparing those two figures for a region allows you to compare how effectively some region's government heads are using the tax revenue they confiscate. That is a valid way to compare the effectiveness of different regions' transit system leaderships, and gauge whether or not some region's policy makers are taxing more than they should be.

Sound Transit now confiscates about $660 million of regressive tax revenue (with that amount climbing year after year). Metro taxing (plus the distributions to Metro from the Seattle City Council of its separate Bridging the Gap tax revenues which nobody knew were going to be made before that vote) is another $520 million. That is a total of $1.2 billion of direct, mostly regressive, taxing for buses and trains around here.

Now for comparison let's take the metro area just south of here where a different state legislature structured the financing plan: Oregon’s. You can use the figures from anywhere else in the country: the story is the same.

In the greater Portland area there is NO targeting of individuals and families via regressive taxing. The $250 million of tax revenue TriMet collects comes from a progressive payroll tax, and it is the only taxing TriMet does. That is how much taxing TriMet has done during the entire quarter-century it has been building out its extensive light rail, streetcar and bus system.

Now look at how many people are served in our region vs. TriMet's service area. The combined average weekday boardings of Metro and Sound Transit buses and trains is 490,000. The average weekday boardings of TriMet buses and trains is 318,000.

Sound Transit and Metro combined thus have about 56% more boardings than TriMet, but they confiscate nearly 500% more tax revenue each year.

That means Sound Transit and Metro already haul in THREE TIMES the tax revenue per weekday boarding for buses and trains compared to how it’s done in the three-county Portland metro area.

The government heads up here are doing a lousy job of managing the heavy, regressive tax revenue streams they already impose. The public is catching on. We sent the truthful message to the government heads here that they tax too heavily already.

crossrip

Posted Mon, May 12, 8:07 a.m. Inappropriate

Excellent comment.

Lincoln

Posted Mon, May 12, 4:42 p.m. Inappropriate

I'm not really sure where you get the idea that Trimet is so much more efficient than Metro/Sound Transit. A quick search of public records gives the following information:

Agency Budget Annual boardings
Metro $1.3 billion 115 million
Sound Transit $1.1 billion 30 million
Trimet $1.3 billion 79 million

This shows that in a comparison between two local transit agencies, Metro actually has a lower cost per boarding than Trimet. Now this is a pretty naive comparison as it ignores the fact that our long-haul transit service is run by Sound Transit. Even adding Sound Transit in, though, the cost per boarding is barely higher than Trimet's, and that's including all sorts of capital expenditures for Link that won't be revenue producing for years.

Now Metro does have some work to do on the cost-cutting front, but they've made decent progress, especially considering the shackles that the county council has put on them (fortunately those are fading quickly now).

skylar

Posted Tue, May 13, 11:56 a.m. Inappropriate

You found some figures supposedly showing this: "Metro actually has a lower cost per boarding than Trimet."

That factoid -- to the extent it is true -- just begs the question of why the bus and train services providers up here already are taxing so much more heavily than what goes on in and around Portland for that transit.

Make yourself useful. Explain why Sound Transit and Metro combined now are hauling in three times the amount of tax revenue per average weekday boarding compared to TriMet.

crossrip

Posted Wed, May 14, 4:52 p.m. Inappropriate

First, Metro + ST budgets are not even twice as big as Trimet ($2.4b vs $1.3b per annum).

Second, Metro + ST have nearly twice the ridership of Trimet (145 million annual riders vs 79 million).

Third, as I mentioned above, ST is in the middle of a large capital building program. In the long-run, this will pay-off; in the short-term, though, it's very costly. This is just how capital projects work - their costs have to be ammortized over many years and many riders for them to make sense. One of the things that will save Metro, though, is increasing its reliance on ST light rail service for the trunk routes. Adding the last rider to a train is virtually free because all the infrastructure is already there, but adding the last rider to a bus could involve running a second bus with a second driver, and exacerbate traffic even more.

If you doubt light-rail's effectiveness, just look at the numbers. Central Link, even before the heaviest portions of the route are complete (Capitol Hill and UW), is adding more riders than the rest of the Sound Transit system /combined/, and already has about two-thirds the ridership of the entire ST express bus network, and is busier than any other single route in the King County or Sound Transit network. Once Capitol Hill and UW come online in the next couple years, you can expect ridership to eclipse even the express bus network.

The total cost of Central Link + University Link is going to be around $4.3b ($2.4b for already-completed Central Link and $1.9b for University Link), and so far has been completed on-time and under-budget. In comparison WSDOT, I'd say Sound Transit has a pretty good record for their capital projects.

skylar

Posted Wed, May 14, 9:06 p.m. Inappropriate

First, Metro + ST budgets are not even twice as big as Trimet ($2.4b vs $1.3b per annum).

Nice “Latin”. Impressive, or something. Nobody cares what the “annum” spending budgets are – the issue at hand is the abusive taxing practices in the name of transit Dow and Ed embrace and make worse.

Second, Metro + ST have nearly twice the ridership of Trimet (145 million annual riders vs 79 million).

If that factoid is true it wouldn't come close to justifying the FAR heavier regressive taxing. Let me guess – you are just as happy that the least well off individuals and families here are targeted for many, many times the negative financial impacts of taxes for transit compared with what's going on in that department in the three-county region around Portland, right? I get it – you're a sociopath!

Third, as I mentioned above, ST is in the middle of a large capital building program.

Building train lines doesn't require heavy regressive taxing anywhere else in the country. For example, TriMet's modest progressive taxing hasn't increased or become in any way regressive during the last quarter-century, and during that period it has built out scores of miles of light rail lines with stations, street car networks, a commuter bus system, etc. Oh, and a higher percentage of that region's commuters use transit compared to here.

This is just how capital projects work - their costs have to be ammortized over many years and many riders for them to make sense.

Complete BS. Amortizing costs doesn't help indicate whether or not appropriate financing practices are employed. Here they are not – the financing plan is abusive because of the long term bonds secured by pledges to collect regressive taxes at or near the maximum rates while any of those bonds are outstanding. That aspect of financing transit here means excessive taxing is employed. Moreover, most light rail systems are built out using mostly federal funds and no new municipal debt, let alone the abusive form of muni bonds used here.

Central Link, even before the heaviest portions of the route are complete (Capitol Hill and UW), is adding more riders than the rest of the Sound Transit system /combined/

There may be growth over the pitifully-low baseline, but light rail ridership here is TINY. Two bus lines eclipse it, at a tiny fraction of the cost. Very few people both live and work near enough to light rail stations.

The total cost of Central Link + University Link is going to be . . .

Ah, yes -- this propagandist also plays stupid about the tax costs to the public the bond sale contracts require Sound Transit to impose.

crossrip

Posted Mon, May 12, 7:10 a.m. Inappropriate

We must ensure that citizens have transportation choices, safeguard our clean environment, and understand how our everyday choices affect climate change.

If Metro gets more tax revenue it will not "safeguard our clean environment" and it will not "affect climate change". That is a complete load of BS.

These hacks are waving the bloody shirt of climate change and trying to mislead people into accepting higher local taxes as if that would make any difference with respect to climate change. It would not.

The "carbon footprint" of this state is tiny. Washington has per-capita the ninth lowest CO2 emissions in the country:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions

We do not need to do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in King County because we produce essentially none of the worlds GHG emissions.

If the government heads around here truly wanted to cut greenhouse gas emissions they'd tax the heck out of Boeing, forcing it to leave the state. They'd also adopt a statute limiting use of SeaTac Airport by jet aircraft. The other easy step to take would be shutting down the cement factories around here. That would cut this state's GHG footprint in half.

But raising taxes for buses and trains? Nope -- that's not going to amount to a hill of beans in terms of cutting the miniscule GHG emissions from here.

It's a flimsy, bogus argument. Don't buy it. This is just an effort to distract from bad management of transit around here by fostering a false impression about what transit actually does.

crossrip

Posted Mon, May 12, 8:09 a.m. Inappropriate

Excellent comment.

Lincoln

Posted Mon, May 12, 8:21 a.m. Inappropriate

Interesting that the Municipal League should refer to the Regional Transit Task Force, without ever having read it, apparently.

Let me help.

http://your.kingcounty.gov/kcdot/media/RTTF/RTTF_FinalRpt_draft1_100110.pdf

Page 24:

"King County Performance Audit. The Task Force was briefed on the findings of the King County Auditor’s 2009 performance audit of Metro, and the County Executive’s response to that audit, including Metro’s planned follow-up actions. The auditor identified the potential for $30
million to $37 million in annual cost savings, up to $54 million in potential increased annual revenue ($51 million would have to come from an additional fare increase), and $105 million in one-time savings by postponing fleet replacement and using the available fund balance.

"Metro incorporated $12.5 million in annual savings in the 2010/2011 biennial budget based on anticipated savings from implementation of schedule efficiencies. The Auditor identified another $3.5 million to $8.5 million in potential annual savings from schedule efficiencies. Adult bus fares were increased in the 2010/2011 biennial budget (raising an additional $10.8 million), but the other potential fare increases identified by the Auditor (increased monthly pass price,
elimination of off-peak fare discounts, elimination of free transfers, and increased paratransit fares) have not been adopted."

Metro has NOT followed the recommendations of the Regional Transit Task Force. Metro is leaving over $30 million per year on the table by not following just 3 simple recommendations: increase the monthly pass price; eliminate the off-peak fare discounts: eliminate free transfers.

Metro can solve its own "problems" but prefers to raise taxes to increase its already massive tax subsidies to bus riders. And the Municipal League just gives Metro a free pass on this.

Lincoln

Posted Mon, May 12, 8:23 a.m. Inappropriate

Look at the recommendations of the King County Auditors Office for Metro to increase revenues without increasing taxes. From "PERFORMANCE AUDIT OF TRANSIT TECHNICAL REPORT A: FINANCIAL & CAPITAL PLANNING"

The County Auditor's Office made these recommendations to Metro, among others:

Page 53

"Increase the PugetPass/ORCA monthly pass breakeven point to 40 trips. The current regional fare agreement provides that riders would need to board 36 times in a month to breakeven if they were paying cash fare for each boarding." This would increase Metro revenues by $6.6 million per year.

"Eliminate discounts for riding during off-peak times," This would add $6.2 M per year.

"Eliminate free transfer tickets." This would raise Metro's revenues by $16.5 million per year.

So, just by following these three recommendations from the King County Auditor's Office, Metro could increase its revenues by over $29.3 million per year, which is about half the operating "deficit" Metro is claiming.

However, Metro prefers to raise taxes on everyone in King County instead of solving its revenue "problems" itself.

Lincoln

Posted Mon, May 12, 1:18 p.m. Inappropriate

Metro doesn't "prefer" to do anything... Agency heads simply disagree with you and the value of these three recommendations. For example, raising the pass "break-even" price potentially has NEGATIVE effects because it will encourage many current riders to switch back to cash from the ORCA pass system. This would result in increased costs and slowing of buses during rush hour. Eliminating free paper transfers would certainly combat this problem, but then has a NEGATIVE impact on the youth, seniors, and low-income riders most likely to use cash and depend on transit. Of course, this doesn't mean you're wrong or that the recommendations are bad. It just means that transit supporters and Metro have actually paid attention and, have come to a different conclusion.

Mickymse

Posted Mon, May 12, 7:19 p.m. Inappropriate

What are you talking about? ORCA cards can be used to pay individual fares, just like using cash. You don't have to put a monthly pass on your ORCA card. You can just use the "e-purse" and put cash on your ORCA card. So that point you attempted to make is nonsense. Using your ORCA card as cash to pay individual fares takes not more time than when boarding than if it has a monthly pass on it.

Metro says it "needs" more revenue. The King County Auditors Office and the Regional Transit Task Force both recommended ways for Metro to increase revenues, but Metro has ignored those suggestions and asked for increased tax subsidies instead. Of course Metro prefers increased tax subsidies. If Metro preferred raising fares, they would have done that.

Lincoln

Posted Mon, May 12, 8:34 a.m. Inappropriate

The service cuts that Metro is threatening should be allowed to happen. These are minor cuts that won't impact the great majority of King County residents one iota. The hours that would be cut are off-peak hours and routes with low ridership. Those hours should be cut even if Metro had the money to keep them.

What is the point of operating buses with nobody, or almost nobody, on them? There are many, many Metro buses every day that drive around mostly -- or completely -- empty. This is a waste of money, a waste of fuel (energy), a waste of wear and tear on buses and a waste of wear and tear on streets and highways.

Empty, or nearly-empty buses have ZERO impact on traffic, obviously. Those empty buses generally operate on roads with no traffic congestion, and they have nobody on board who would otherwise be driving if those buses were cut, anyway. Empty buses don't relieve traffic congestion.

Buses operating with almost nobody on them are terrible for the environment. If you care about greenhouse gases how could you possibly support a 40-foot bus driving around with nobody, or even 1 or 2 passengers, on it? A car with one person in it uses far less fuel than a bus with one person on it, or even a bus with 2 or 3 people on it.

S.O.B's (single occupancy buses) are far worse for the environment and traffic congestion than S.O.V.'s (single occupancy vehicles).

Lincoln

Posted Mon, May 12, 8:47 a.m. Inappropriate

Municipal League: I was hoping your article would show leadership and an alternative path forward.

Please try to do that.

PR Score: "roads and bridges" = 4 mentions

Posted Mon, May 12, 9:49 a.m. Inappropriate

Metro doesn't have financial problems. They have management problems.

talisker

Posted Mon, May 12, 11:27 a.m. Inappropriate

The message from east King County (outside Seattle) was clear. That vote and the message from the State legislature sent a clear message. Seattle is on its own to fund transit which serves the city.

I wish it were not so but the rest of King County is on its own to find its own solutions. I wish we could work together to build an effective regional transit system but it appears we cannot.

In the mean time, trolls get out of the way so Seattle can provide for its own transit service. It is clear from the Prop 1 vote that we are willing to do that.

nwcitizen

Posted Mon, May 12, 11:42 a.m. Inappropriate

Go ahead, try arguing the bus and train services providers need more tax revenue. They get excessive amounts of that already -- just compare how much they haul in to how the peer regions finance transit.

Let me guess . . . you are a democrat, right? That means you want to hike sales taxes and car tab taxes to target the individuals and households with the least means the heaviest. That's what democrats here ALWAYS go for. It is why we have the most regressive state/local taxing structure in the country.

This is ridiculous:

In the mean time, trolls get out of the way so Seattle can provide for its own transit service. It is clear from the Prop 1 vote that we are willing to do that.

The only thing "clear from the Prop 1 vote" is that central-Seattle voters knew the bulk of the additional revenue East King County voters would pay would benefit central-Seattle residents more than any other group.

In contrast, Seattle voters will not agree to Ed Murray and the city council taxing their less well off neighbors to subsidize Metro administrative and operations costs that benefit East side businesses and rich commuters who live over there.

crossrip

Posted Mon, May 12, 1:23 p.m. Inappropriate

Not quite... The Democrats here have a long history of fighting for more progressive taxes, and being blcoked in their efforts by Republicans and conservative Eastern Washington voters. In this most recent go-round, activists and electeds have tried for three years to get MVET authority -- which would be much better than a car tab or sales tax. Nice try.

Mickymse

Posted Mon, May 12, 1:51 p.m. Inappropriate

The Democrats here have a long history of fighting for more progressive taxes

Stop lying. No facts back that assertion up.

The democrats in this state have been in control in Olympia -- and around here -- for decades. They always push for higher sales taxes and car tab taxes for local transit taxing districts, and then work hard to impose them. Those are the singular accomplishments of Frank Chopp, Ed Murray, Greg Nickels, Dow Constantine, Larry Phillips, etc.

When has progressive taxing been imposed by democrats here? Oh, yeah . . . never.

The democrat government heads and their rich financial backers pushed for higher sales taxes and car tab taxes for King County, instead of questioning the management of Metro, explaining why additional tax revenue might be needed (despite the fact that more taxing for transit occurs here than anywhere else in the country), or advocating for a revenue-raiser not designed to hit the families with the least the hardest. Now they want Ed Murray to do the same, again.

Look at how “tax the people with the least the heaviest” is the unvarying theme. King County Metro’s high taxing targeting the middle class and poor dates from its first sales tax in 1972. Then Metro doubled its sales tax in 1980. King County hiked its sales taxes again for Metro in 2000, and then again in 2006. In 2011 the county heads began collecting an additional car tab tax. That completely unaccountable municipality Sound Transit got a big sales tax and car tab tax from the state legislature in 1992, and the local arm of the party began imposing those with gusto. Now the people here are targeting really heavily for transit -- a 1.8% sales tax, plus car tab taxes, plus a property tax.

That's far more regressive taxing, and higher overall taxing, compared with everywhere else in the country. The democrats pushed all that.

Contrary to what you assert, car tab taxes are regressive. That includes car tab taxes based on the value of the vehicle. Those taxes are designed to hit the individuals and families with the least the hardest, by taking a disproportionately-large amount of their little discretionary spending power.

What are progressive taxes (and other revenue raisers) peer bus and train services providers use? Payroll taxes, taxes on petroleum transfers, taxes on commercial development, taxes on commercial property transfers, LIDs, revenue bonds (secured by future farebox revenues), etc. NONE of those are employed for transit by the democrats here that have been in charge of the state legislature and the local taxing districts.

Blaming the republicans is nonsense. They couldn't set taxing policy around here if they wanted to.

crossrip

Posted Mon, May 12, 11:45 a.m. Inappropriate

Just eliminate the "trolls" AKA people who don't agree with YOU, from your METRO taxing district while you are at it. Freeing up communities outside of the Seattle City Limits to negotiate and contract with non-metro carriers will probably result in better service and lower costs for those areas.

Cameron

Posted Mon, May 12, 6:19 p.m. Inappropriate

http://www.washingtonpolicy.org/blog/post/king-county-leaders-should-call-timeout-bus-cuts

http://www.washingtonpolicy.org/blog/post/washington-policy-center-calls-king-county-leaders-protect-bus-services

King County Transportation District Prop 1 Vote (this one drills down a lot farther than Crosscut's):
http://a.tiles.mapbox.com/v3/oranv.i63j984i/page.html?secure=1#11/47.7354/-123.0719

Seattle vote is not at all a uniform, sure thing.

afreeman

Posted Wed, May 14, 9:28 a.m. Inappropriate

We could probably cut some bus routes and change them to circulating van routes to save cash and the wear and tear issues pointed out by Lincoln. And as usual I see no mention of the issue of employers subsidizing the travel of their workers. I voted no and will do so again since bus service is mostly limited to getting day workers into and out of Seattle at commute times. This is a benefit to employers (and also to us if they spend money in town), and they should share the burden with something like a head tax, or other taxes on gross profits, or whatever.

The only transit issue I could vote yes for would be one that serves people needing to go east-west and to travel in or between neighborhoods. Those folks include many of the seniors and low income that people are concerned about. The gridlock on Seattle streets clearly indicates to me that Metro is not serving those drivers because it doesn't go where they need to go, not because there are too few buses. Neighborhood and small area circulating vans like those operated by Microsoft and some of the hospitals, and probably others, could fill those needs while taking cars off the road and making life nicer for all of us. Friday night it took me 40 minutes to travel between Greenlake and the Convention Center. The streets were so full they were nearly stopped, including the buses once they got off Aurora. So a bus wouldn't have been a good choice--it would have taken just as long and it would have left me waiting on the streets, after a good walk to get to a bus stop, when it was time for me to go home. As long as transit doesn't serve all of us I will continue to vote no.

mspat

Posted Wed, May 14, 9:28 a.m. Inappropriate

We could probably cut some bus routes and change them to circulating van routes to save cash and the wear and tear issues pointed out by Lincoln. And as usual I see no mention of the issue of employers subsidizing the travel of their workers. I voted no and will do so again since bus service is mostly limited to getting day workers into and out of Seattle at commute times. This is a benefit to employers (and also to us if they spend money in town), and they should share the burden with something like a head tax, or other taxes on gross profits, or whatever.

The only transit issue I could vote yes for would be one that serves people needing to go east-west and to travel in or between neighborhoods. Those folks include many of the seniors and low income that people are concerned about. The gridlock on Seattle streets clearly indicates to me that Metro is not serving those drivers because it doesn't go where they need to go, not because there are too few buses. Neighborhood and small area circulating vans like those operated by Microsoft and some of the hospitals, and probably others, could fill those needs while taking cars off the road and making life nicer for all of us. Friday night it took me 40 minutes to travel between Greenlake and the Convention Center. The streets were so full they were nearly stopped, including the buses once they got off Aurora. So a bus wouldn't have been a good choice--it would have taken just as long and it would have left me waiting on the streets, after a good walk to get to a bus stop, when it was time for me to go home. As long as transit doesn't serve all of us I will continue to vote no.

mspat

Posted Wed, May 14, 8:58 p.m. Inappropriate

This is an incomplete answer that dovetails with the King County Executive’s proposal to “let each city pay” and Seattle Mayor Murray’s new proposal to recycle the same regressive package the county voters soundly rejected (but which city voters passed), in order to protect the property taxes of particularly big businesses. Both politicos assume that everything has been done to, putting it into financial vernacular, “close all loopholes.” Since neither is bold enough to level with the voters, here’s a list of various suggestions that I’ve seen that should be presented as options to the King County Council with the amount of service that each would “buy back,” then let Metro explain why they're not practical...
(1) Raising the number of trips that a monthly pass is based upon from 36 to 40 (an average month has 22 business days);
(2) Charging a premium for peak-only “express” routes;
(3) Raising all fares that aren't so to be in line with other transit agencies in the region (intercounty, youth, reduced, and particularly the expensive-to-provide paratransit service);
(4) Eliminating – or raising the age for – the senior discount, and decoupling senior fares from disabled fares;
(5) Eliminating transfer slips;
(6) Raising fares beyond what they’ve been raised the past few years in order to cover the recent increases – per Metro’s website – in security (80%), insurance and risk management (60%), pensions (40%), wages & benefits (10%), inflation, and purchased systems;
(7) Charge Sound Transit the full expenses of operating Link light rail vs. providing what amounts to a partial subsidy to them.

bricsa

Posted Wed, May 14, 9:51 p.m. Inappropriate

Considering the billions of dollars being wasted on Metro, it would have made more sense to buy all the riders a smart car and invest the change in education. Everybody would be better off.

Djinn

Posted Thu, May 15, 8:46 a.m. Inappropriate

The updated Municipal League report calls for:

1. Charging for parking at Park and Ride facilities
2. Scaling back discounts to large companies and other organizations
3. Eliminating senior discounts for those who have the means to pay
regular fares
4. Tightening transfer policies that are more lenient than the norm
5. Charging a fee for private companies to utilize Metro bus stops
6. Public/private partnerships for additional parking needs

Treker

Posted Sun, May 18, 12:20 a.m. Inappropriate

All levies: NO.

You have plenty of money. You will tell any lie that seems to work at the time.

NotFan

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