No silver bullets among last ditch efforts to stave off bus service cuts

County Councilmember Rod Dembowski has a new plan to help Metro raise revenues, but it's still not the fix-all everyone's hoping for.

When the 139 bus pulled out of the Burien Transit Center last Thursday around 3 p.m. it was carrying one passenger. As the bus rumbled down Fourth Avenue SW, another rider boarded — a woman who was getting ready to move to the area from Florida.

The bus passed a worn sports field where kids kicked up dust as they played soccer, looped through the Highline Medical Center campus without picking up anyone, and then continued west on SW 160th Street, passing single family homes, with mowed lawns, flower bushes and driveways.

A total of five passengers rode the bus during its 4.5-mile route, which passes through Gregory Heights, a neighborhood in Burien located just west of the Seattle Tacoma International Airport. Ray Lugo boarded shortly after the bus turned onto 21st Avenue SW. He uses the 139 to commute. "If it wasn't for the bus, I wouldn't be able to get to work," he said. "I don't have a car."

Another rider, Nancy O'Reilly, got on board a few stops later as the bus continued north on 21st Avenue SW toward SW 152nd Street. O'Reilly said she and her neighbors in a senior community use the bus for trips to the grocery store and the medical center.

"No one on 21st can walk to stores or the doctor's," she said.

This fall, Lugo and O'Reilly will likely need to find a new way to get around. The 139 is on the chopping block. King County Metro Transit has identified the bus line as one of its lowest performing routes and the agency has proposed eliminating it in September as part of an effort to offset an ongoing budget shortfall of up to $75 million.


A Metro bus pulls away from the Burien Transit Center last Thursday. Photo: Bill Lucia

Metro has recommended to the Metropolitan King County Council a total reduction of 550,000 annual service hours to make up for the funding gap. King County Executive Dow Constantine recently sent a proposal to the council that would phase in the elimination of 72 bus routes and service revisions or reductions on another 84 lines over the course of a year. The first round of cuts would take place in September. Three additional rounds of service reductions would be scheduled for February, June and September of next year.

As the clock ticks toward September, elected officials are scrambling to put forth proposals that would stave off some of the service cuts, but a long-term solution to the agency's financial woes remains elusive.

"We’ve heard again that the proposed cuts will really have a devastating effect on people who rely on transit to get to work, to get to school and to get to the hospital," Rod Dembowski, chair of the County Council's transportation committee, said as he summed up comments made during a recent round of public meetings about the service reductions. "We’ve also heard that we should considering raising fares for those who can afford it."

In one of the latest moves to save bus service, Dembowski plans to introduce a motion at a transportation committee meeting on Tuesday that would call on Constantine to recommend a bus fare increase, the elimination of Metro's paper transfer system and new pricing models. He said those changes could enable Metro to generate between $17 million and $20 million in additional revenue annually.

He emphasized that some of the changes would not go into effect until after a low income fare reduction policy is put into place, which is set to happen next March.

The motion would also call for an outside auditor to conduct a top-to-bottom review of Metro's finances to look for $10 million to $20 million in new annual cost savings. Metro's capital spending and financial reserve policies would also be re-examined.

Metro officials say that in recent years they have made deep cuts and increased the agency's efficiency.


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Comments:

Posted Sun, May 25, 3:14 p.m. Inappropriate

The irony is that it is Metro improving efficiency (and farebox recovery), by cutting/reducing under-performing routes, many in eastern or southern King County, that has cost them support in the county for transit. If the 40-40-20 formula had still been in effect, Prop. 1 might have passed.

Unfortunately, it has come down to inflicting pain on drivers (who seem to think riders will stay home or walk, rather than add to congestion by driving, and on those (seniors, disabled, and the poor) who have no other alternative.

Posted Wed, Jun 4, 10:09 a.m. Inappropriate

The threat of massive service cuts was a bluff. Voters called the bluff.

I'll bet you $100 the proposed 2014 and 2015 service cuts Desmond outlined in March are not authorized by the council.

Let's see whether you believe that fearmongering . . ..

crossrip

Posted Wed, Jun 4, 5:21 p.m. Inappropriate

You mean by reauthorizing the $25 car tab fee that is expiring?

Posted Sun, May 25, 8:19 p.m. Inappropriate

Our fares will be out pacing even the Bay area by the time we enact our increases,especially for those who buy passes. Maybe a road tax would be the better idea. Really what makes me sad is the statement for those "who can afford it." A good solid middle class is shrinking and the lines between those who can and cannot afford things are not as clear as this type of statement makes it seem. The very rich can easily afford the rates for parking and I suppose or an additional fare increase, but the solid middle class worker will be the one who is hurt if this attitude goes too far. I can support a low income fare, but if it is overdone at the expense of the average person, then I will not feel supportive. Do we want everyone getting back in their car? Seattle needs to make more room for cars and soon. If you are in the group that does not qualify for this or that, no matter how far from one line or the other, then you get to pay full tuition for your kids, more for transit. Then heaven forbid if someone gets a raise and crosses the line so that they lose some of their services at affordable rates. Will $15.00/hr mean that no one needs services. I think that most services should be for all of us, and that "yes" a job should support a decent life with public services.

joannac

Posted Mon, May 26, 4:56 a.m. Inappropriate

Some areas in King County will be losing 2/3rds of their bus service and have been given no reasonable alternative by METRO and King County. They will not be given any rebates to current taxing levels to support METRO, they simply will not be getting any meaningful services for those taxes. Going forward, do King County and METRO really think those areas are going to be responsive to more efforts to save METRO? Perhaps it is time to shrink METRO's service and taxing areas, give people their money back and allow for private contractors to fill the transit needs of underserved areas on a contract basis.

Cameron

Posted Mon, May 26, 8:56 p.m. Inappropriate

"Perhaps it is time to shrink METRO's service and taxing areas, give people their money back and allow for private contractors to fill the transit needs of underserved areas on a contract basis."

One of the most intelligent thoughts you have shared—on the order of "save the program not the building," a second order change that the Seattle School District never seemed to grasp. http://www.thenationalacademy.org/ready/change.html

Not that hard to imagine private van services, taxis, and whatever the official name for uber, et al then appearing out-of-thin-air to provide local service and connections to Sound Transit express buses and rail.

afreeman

Posted Mon, May 26, 8:12 a.m. Inappropriate

"We simply don’t have the revenue going forward," Obeso said, "to keep the system going the way it is today.".
Look back 25 years ago, when Metro spun off a new agency to build a light rail line. Most transit agencies build their own. Now both collect about 2 bil a year, and Metro's share of the pie is less than the daughter agency. Combined, it makes us about the most heavily taxed region in the country, so I'm not buying this 'We're So Poor BS', while they continue to gold plate every damn thing they build around here. Just look at the photo. A sea of concrete and parked buses for a handful of riders roaming around.

007

Posted Tue, May 27, 6:17 a.m. Inappropriate

Digging through the National Transit Database reveals the Puget Sound * pays more per capita for transit ($563 per person), than any of our peer cities around the nation.
PDX $361
BOS $486
BAL $431
ATL $420
MIA $220
DAL $388
DEN $480
SLC $239
SJC $314
SDO $204
.
and crying we are playing catch up, investing billions through Sound Transit isn't the only culprit. We are investing about 40% of all revenue into capital projects, whereas that is the norm above. Other cities like DEN, SLC, and San Diego are spending higher percentages of their total area revenue on the future.
* Combined spending of Sound Transit, Metro, Pierce and Snohomish providing service to 3.3 million people.
.
Fix the Spending Problem, then work on the Tax Problem.

007

Posted Mon, May 26, 8:24 a.m. Inappropriate

I don't think bus service gets people out of their cars--that's one of the big lies in all of these transit proposals. I have to drive because Metro doesn't serve my needs, and I can say that congestion, despite the "congestion reduction fee" I have to pay, is getting much, much worse, and its hours are getting longer and longer. I like the idea of a head tax on employers; they are the ones benefiting most from the taxes we all are paying. Also I find it interesting that we are no longer hearing about what percentages of buses these forecasted cuts will add up to. It was 17% before the election, then 16%, and now no numbers. Also not addressed is the improved tax revenues Metro is already realizing as the economy recovers. Instead we are treated to these stories about the poor and the ill who cannot get where they need to go. I have some sympathy for that, but overall I think most of what transit boosters have to say is misleading and fatally short on details.

Furthermore, wouldn't the folks in this story be better served by a circulating van service that wouldn't impact traffic and the streets as much as full-sized buses and could be more nimble in taking people where they need to go at a better price. It appears to me that Metro has one model in mind and is going to keep coming at us with it until ... well until who knows what? They are not transparent, are withholding important data, and are failing to consider better priced alternatives that might also work better. I find the arrogance breathtaking.

mspat

Posted Wed, May 28, 8:35 a.m. Inappropriate

I wholeheartedly agree with this response. My question though, is simply why is it never mentioned to look into WHY the costs are so high to run METRO? I worked for METRO for 20 years and would love if someone would ask where all the waste is! An independent analysis of the management of this transit agency would show that some parts are very heavily over managed AND with all management making over 6 figures a year. When Management is asked how to cut costs, are they going to say "cut management because we are too top-heavy?". No, they say cut service or else. When you have 6 figure a year employees, doing little to nothing each and every day, over the course of decades, the outcome is given. Ask the workers where to cut costs, I'll bet they could save millions.

Posted Fri, May 30, 1:44 p.m. Inappropriate

Transit is responsible for 3% of the passenger mileage in King County. It's hideously expensive and laughably ineffective, and should be reduced to rush-hour service only.

NotFan

Posted Mon, May 26, 8:54 a.m. Inappropriate

"90% of Metro riders are car owners."

Wait... What?

There are plenty of reasons why that might be true, but it begs the question why you'd even try to compete against that? If 90% of a community had private security, the police would probably place a greater emphasis on the 10% that didn't, if that's where the crime was and they'd be applauded.

But this story starts by trying to tell an emotional story about real people who will be impacted and yet the cold hard facts inconveniently intrude. Five people over 4.5 miles. mspat is right - replace that bus with a van.

But to the broader point - what is the mission of a public transit system? Is it a safety net for those who can't provide their own transportation? A communally-funded replacement for private transportation-ownership? A loose connection of people traveling quicker (and with less environmental impact) than they could on their own?

It seems like Metro's biggest problem is one of marketing/identity. If it could clearly articulate what it was (all things to all people is not a valid choice) than it could use that lens to make decisions people would understand and respect, things that should be done in lean times and in flush times. But if you're McDonalds and 90% of your customers also regularly go to Burger King, you've failed to differentiate.

If the mission is to counter the ills of bad county zoning, the plans look far different than if the goal is to make it possible to live and thrive in King County without needing to own and store a several thousand pounds of steel, glass and rubber. But if the goal is simply to exist as a government agency, then it will be all about cuts, fare increases and losing a public relations battle with the car owners who fail to see the point of Metro.

Time for the leaders of Metro to lock themselves in a room, watch the Simon Sinek TED Talk "Start with Why" (which was filmed in Seattle) and then come back and tell us why Metro exists and then what's going to be done to align Metro for its success in the lean times and the flush times.

tvjames

Posted Mon, May 26, 9:56 a.m. Inappropriate

This is a very good article, and I have several points I will make in response.

First, why didn't Metro cut service significantly during the recession, when ridership fell significantly? When ridership falls, you should cut service hours, to save money. Instead, Metro used its reserves to preserve service hours which were not needed during the recession.

Now, because of that stupid mistake by Metro, Metro claims it has to rebuild its reserves with the $30 million per year in extra sales tax revenues it is receiving because of the recovering economy.

Metro should have concentrated on preserving its money during the recession, and not on preserving bus service which was not needed during the recession.

Lincoln

Posted Mon, May 26, 10:06 a.m. Inappropriate

Driving buses around with nobody, or almost nobody, on them is stupid in the extreme. Metro does this with many buses on different routes at different times of day and night, just one example of which is described in this article.

Almost-empty buses are terrible for the environment. They put out large amounts of greenhouse gases while moving almost nobody.

Almost-empty buses are a terrible waste of tax revenues. They cost about as much to run as full buses, while collecting almost no fare revenue, and serving almost nobody.

Almost-empty buses are a terrible waste of wear-and-tear on the buses. They put miles on the buses while serving no purpose.

Almost-empty buses are a terrible waste of wear-and-tear on roads. Buses do most of the damage to roads (along with trucks), almost-empty buses damage roads while serving no purpose.

Almost-empty buses do nothing to relieve traffic congestion. There is almost nobody on the bus who has been taken out of a car, and when buses are almost empty, there is no traffic anyway (or there would be more people on the bus).

Almost-empty buses are a lose-lose-lose proposition. Metro should cut many service hours to eliminate all their almost-empty buses. Even if Metro could afford to keep operating almost-empty buses, they should stop doing so, for the reasons I give above.

Lincoln

Posted Mon, May 26, 10:12 a.m. Inappropriate

Metro was just audited a few years ago by the King County Auditors Office. Both the auditors office and the Regional Transit Task Force recommended Metro make these three changes, among others, to increase Metro's revenue from fares:

"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.

Metro has a very easy solution to its "problem", but Metro has refused to act on the King County Auditors Office recommendations.

Lincoln

Posted Mon, May 26, 7:09 p.m. Inappropriate

The Auditors office should have more power. Such as to publish names of department heads and elected officials involved who do not take the Audit Findings seriously enough to implement the cures recommended.

This would be nice if it were called the Audit of Shame.

Just reading the Audit Findings does not really show the public the source of the problems, not at all.

Posted Mon, May 26, 10:19 a.m. Inappropriate

Metro's peak hour one-zone fare is $2.50, but very few Metro passengers actually pay full fare. Most Metro regular passengers buy a monthly pass, which costs the same as 36 boardings would cost, but which allow the pass holder to board Metro buses as many times per month as they want to. Anything over 36 boardings per month is free.

Also, Metro gives away free transfers, which allow passengers to board as many buses as they want to in a 2-hour window for the price of just one boarding.

So, Metro gives away millions of boardings each month for free.

Combined with the many discounted fares, such as senior fares which are only 75 cents per boarding -- a ridiculously huge discount -- Metro's average farebox recovery is a pathetic $1.23 per boarding.

Yes, that is correct. On average, Metro collects only $1.23 per boarding from its passengers.

Metro gives away millions of free rides every month, then wants to increase taxes on King County residents, because Metro claims it is losing money! How about this, Metro -- how about stop giving away free bus trips, and making passengers pay full fare every time they board a bus! Has Metro even considered that?

Lincoln

Posted Mon, May 26, 10:53 a.m. Inappropriate

If the ORCA monthly fare is based on 36 boardings / month, what is the average rides per ORCA card? Are people riding for "free" or have they paid too much? This statistic would be useful information.

Posted Mon, May 26, 3:46 p.m. Inappropriate

Metro does not provide information like that. Nor does Metro say how many free transfers are used every day or every month. I don't think they want the public to know. But, if they have this information, it would be very interesting, and useful, I agree.

However, why would anyone buy a monthly pass if they board Metro buses less than 36 times per month? Anyone who boards a bus fewer than 36 time per month would save money by paying for each boarding, instead of buying a monthly pass with 36 boardings on it, and then not using all 36 of the boardings they paid for.

I am giving Metro riders the benefit of the doubt, and assuming they are not stupid enough to buy a monthly pass if they use it fewer than 36 times per month. And Metro's average fare collection of $1.23 per boarding certainly suggests that many people buying monthly passes are boarding buses more than 36 times per month.

Lincoln

Posted Mon, May 26, 7:20 p.m. Inappropriate

Most people with ORCA cards likely don't care, as they get their cards free or subsidized from an employer claiming they are "green and generous".

Things rarely are what they seem, and hype is hype.

Posted Wed, May 28, 12:54 p.m. Inappropriate

Most? I'd say that the vast majority are working stiffs that load their cards with cash or a monthly pass. Seniors, youth, and the disabled receive discounted fares, but still have to load their cards, like most everyone else.

Why would corporations choose to subsidize transit costs if it isn't for their and their workers' benefit?

Metro Transit's ridership is not some "other", as much as anti-transit propagandists such as yourself might want readers to believe otherwise. Rather it is, simply put - us.

Posted Mon, May 26, 12:42 p.m. Inappropriate

-Lincoln (& others like you):
Just admit it, you don't like transit, never have, never will, and will fight transit tooth and nail and try to destroy it. You'd rather have new freeways and more/wider roads.

Fact: It is impossible to keep building new freeways and roads to accept additional cars ... like proven time & time again, new freeways just result in more traffic and more congestion and more freeways.

Fortunately, most of us don't want to live in that super-sized dream/nightmare of the 1950's. We need, want, and will pay for good transit

... however ...

I, like you, question many of Metro's decisions and expenses.
I'd like to see a concerted effort to explore how to create and fund, a better, more efficient system. But unfortunately, I don't see out officials doing that, they just keep coming up with the "same ole same ole" system again and again.

Let's explore and clearly articulate various visions for (1) what the needs are, (2) what do we want to achieve, (3) alternatives for how to organize total transportation provisions to achieve those objectives, (4) the pros and cons, and costs and benefits, of each of the alternatives, and (5) how to finance the alternatives.

Why are employee-head-count fees rejected out of hand? Why are developer impact fees rejected out of hand? Why is a fundamental realignment of metro routes rejected out of hand? Why are expensive streetcar lines proposed in lieu of better bus service? Why aren't alternative van services discussed? How do we best serve those who work off-hour shifts?

We deserve - from ALL sides of the questions - short, clear, concise statements and facts rather than obfuscations.

Even though I tend to always vote for improved public services, I've come to the conclusion that nothing will fundamentally change until we've all said "NO MORE" loudly. Therefore, with much reservation and much chagrin, I will vote no on the currently proposed metro funding packages. And for like reasons, I will vote no on the proposed parks district.

elbegewa

Posted Mon, May 26, 3:53 p.m. Inappropriate

Don't put words in my mouth, you ignorant twit. I don't care about transit one way or the other. I just don't want to have to pay for it with taxes and fees. It is the massive tax subsidies I object to, and if you had any intelligence you would have been able to understand that.

I have no objection to Greyhound or Bolt Bus, or the other private transit bus systems. I have no major objection to Metro's van pool system, which gets almost no tax subsidy and is extremely energy-efficient. I don't object to shuttle buses like Airport Shuttle which operate without tax subsidies.

It is people leeching off the public by taking massively-subsidized public transit that I object to. Let those people pay their own way with fares, get rid of the many almost-empty buses, and bus bulbs, road diets, etc., and I don't care about buses one way or the other.

But stop the massive tax subsidies for Metro and Sound Transit.

Lincoln

Posted Tue, May 27, 5:12 p.m. Inappropriate

Amen!

mspat

Posted Mon, May 26, 7:07 p.m. Inappropriate

Actually, elbegewa, you're incorrect.

I hope you're not an elected official or that you do not work directly for Metro, because you would be the definition of a major source of the problems. Dow Constantine is another.

Posted Tue, May 27, 10:51 a.m. Inappropriate

Throughout history it has been proven that privatizing mass transit doesn't work ... it doesn't work for any essential service, not for roads, not for sewers, not for fire departments, not for mass transit.

When you are saying "privatize it" you are essentially saying "we don't want it, don't need it, do away with it".

elbegewa

Posted Tue, May 27, 11:27 a.m. Inappropriate

"When you are saying "privatize it" you are essentially saying "we don't want it, don't need it, do away with it".

Projection, name calling, irrational correlations, yep that is the sound of the wounded transit union employee.

Cameron

Posted Tue, May 27, 1:37 p.m. Inappropriate

I speak as someone who was always in the private sector before I retired, and who has always happily contributed for the betterment of the common good (and who has probably paid more taxes than most who read this.)

elbegewa

Posted Fri, May 30, 1:42 p.m. Inappropriate

We've now voted against higher car tab fees twice. For being so much smarter than us, the "progressives" sure don't seem to comprehend simple messages. How many times do these people need to be told "No," anyway?

NotFan

Posted Mon, May 26, 1:28 p.m. Inappropriate

Does Metro need to be taken out of the hands of King County? It was once, and it had a distinguished staff in charge. Sound Transit is outside the county's political control and it has lots of funding. Recall that the county was determined to get Metro away from The Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle, as any political body loves being able to provide highly visible service to voters. But we now lack transparency, an ability to make tough decisions, and a system that rewards districts more than it operates a cost-effective service.

Posted Mon, May 26, 3:57 p.m. Inappropriate

Cost-effectiveness is not even a consideration for Metro. If it were, there would never be any bus routes like the one in this article which gets only 5 boardings in 4.5 miles. That makes no sense on any level, and is obviously NOT "cost-effective."

Metro does not have to be cost effective, because Dow Constantine and the County Council just keep giving Metro higher and higher tax subsidies whenever Metro asks. So, Metro has no incentive and no need to be cost-effective.

I was hoping the failure of Prop 1 might change this, but it seems our elected fools will keep trying to find ways to give Metro ever greater tax subsidies, instead of forcing Metro to become more cost-effective.

Lincoln

Posted Wed, May 28, 12:12 p.m. Inappropriate

As the build-out of Sound Transit's multi-modal system progresses, the rationale for Metro Transit, which is interconnecting county and city, erodes, with the "county" portion of the Metro compact increasingly reduced to feeding Sound Transit trunk lines. The question is whether Metro Transit can remain financially/politically viable under such a scenario. I think we could see devolution occur into three parts:

1. Regional transit - Sound Transit
2. County transit - King County Transit
3. City transit - Seattle Transit

If city residents are willing to pay more, and county residents less, for transit services, let them.

I see the "city" portion as ultimately the operator of an all-electric system of trolleybuses and streetcars serving its and adjacent neighborhoods, with the goal of electrifying all of Metro Transit's 1-99 routes. Such a system need not remain confined within the city limits, with the potential of extending it through municipalities, such as Shoreline, Bellevue, Mercer Island, Renton, etc., applying to join Seattle Transit's taxing district.

As long as the core urban and the peripheral suburban areas are tied together by a tether, it is hard to see how either can be fairly served.

Posted Wed, May 28, 2 p.m. Inappropriate

Wow, you MUST be a local democrat. The more transit taxing districts operating out of silos the better, right? Let me guess: despite the fact that we have far heavier taxing -- and much more regressive taxing -- being imposed in the name of transit already here you think that bad situation should be made worse, right? You are just like Dow Constantine ("I'm agnostic about what kind of transit taxes are imposed.").

------------------

“I am a democrat, of the 'Tax the Poor' party.

“I always will strive for more sales taxes and car tab taxes, as those taxes target most heavily minorities, young households of modest means, the underemployed, and the disabled. My party in Washington won the race to the bottom of the states on that score ( http://www.itep.org/whopays/ ). Now we must put space between us and the rest of the states.”

crossrip

Posted Wed, May 28, 4:24 p.m. Inappropriate

Thanks for not actually reading what I wrote - it wasn't intended for you, anyway.

Actually, I don't fit nicely into the left vs right political straight-jacket you seem so eager to impose. Spare me your faux populist panderings.

The children of Hamlin also thought the pied piper was only interested in their benefit. In "children" I include whoever is incapable of thinking for themselves.

Posted Mon, May 26, 3:56 p.m. Inappropriate

From the perspective of Tacoma – specifically its local politicians' chilly indifference to the ruinous impact of Pierce Transit's wrenching cutbacks on the transit-dependent urban population – the role of Seattle and King County politicians in the fight to preserve Metro Transit bus service is laudable and exemplary.

Indeed, until now, and with the notable exception of Kshama Sawant and her election to office, I never imagined I would find myself admiring anything about Seattle or any of its residents. That's because, to me, Seattlites will always be the most relentlessly vicious xenophobes I have ever encountered anywhere at any time. That includes my years in the South as an involuntary court-decreed school-year dependent of my father and stepmother, 1950-1956 and 1957-1958, then later, after three years of military service, as an outspokenly pro-civil-rights journalist, 1962-1965, including the summer of 1963 as a civil-rights activist.

Yes, the Ku Klux Klan tried to kill me – three times in fact – but other Southerners were faithful friends, and two Southerners were long-term lovers. By contrast, my four years in Seattle were the loneliest of my life; Seattleites were without exception relentlessly hostile, constantly damning me as “a fucking New York intellectual,” repeatedly telling me I should “go back where (I) belong,” and their vindictive Seattle-Freeze tactics, which included nasty notes, slashed tires, physical assault, the kidnapping of a dog and even defiant thefts of published and unpublished works, eventually ran me out of town.

I left Seattle in 1976, and I will never return. But I remained in the Pacific Northwest – the back-country trout fishing was too good to abandon – and now I must confess I have at last encountered one thing (apart from the election of Ms. Sawant) that is compellingly positive about Seattle. At least some of its politicians actually represent – or at least pretend to represent – the people like myself who can no longer afford automobiles and who are therefore utterly dependent on mass transit.

The irony, of course, is that fully half the population of Tacoma – where the politicians have never lifted so much as the proverbial finger to preserve Pierce Transit service – is officially lower income, and a substantial percentage, as I remember about 25 percent of the city's approximately 100,000 lower-income residents, have no other means of transportation. (The no-option-save-buses figure is deftly concealed by the local bureaucracy, but it is available via a bit of research, and I apologize for the fact I do not have time to ferret it out today.)

More to the point, the refusal of the local politicians to protect the bus service vital to our survival proves that, in Tacoma and Pierce County, we lower-income people have no political representation at all. Not only is there the politicians' total indifference to the consequences of PT downsizing. Now – as if to clear up any misunderstanding about whose side the politicians are on – these same politicos, Democrats and Republicans alike, have approved PT's shift to a new policy of penalizing pro-transit Tacomans by withholding intra-city service even as service to the (notably wealthier) anti-transit suburbs is radically expanded. The contempt and hatefulness in the message this new policy sends the urban poor is unmistakable.

Hence – much as it grieves me to admit it – for purposes of transit, and more generally for politicians who will at least publicly acknowledge the existence of lower-income people and the pressing reality of our needs, anyone who like myself is now a member of the urban underclass is probably better off living in Seattle.

Posted Tue, May 27, 5:18 p.m. Inappropriate

Quite the sob story. Do I have to pay for your lunch too?

Simon

Posted Fri, May 30, 1:40 p.m. Inappropriate

You don't live here, but you sure seem to do a lot of blathering about here. Why? More importantly, why should anyone care what you think about here?

NotFan

Posted Mon, Jun 2, 8:07 p.m. Inappropriate

Interesting. Same has been said about you.

Treker

Posted Mon, May 26, 5:43 p.m. Inappropriate

"Some areas in King County will be losing 2/3rds of their bus service and have been given no reasonable alternative by METRO and King County."

Well, they could ask their neighbors (voters against Prop. 1?) for a ride...

Posted Tue, May 27, 5:04 a.m. Inappropriate

Or maybe they can ask their County Council representatives to call for a PTIC ( Public Transit Improvement Conference) Under RCW 36.57A. and ask for removal from METRO's taxing and service district. Why would you continue to pay for a service you are not receiving? This isn't Police, Fire or Education...this is a bus service and there are private companies that can and do provide similar services.

Cameron

Posted Wed, May 28, 11:22 a.m. Inappropriate

Conservative eastside constituents told their representatives to improve Metro's efficiency and cut costs. Many of Metro's least efficient and most expensive routes are on the eastside. Be careful of what you're asking for - you might just get it.

If you're truly concerned for both efficiency and serving the "under-served," then support building out the Metro/Sound Transit multi-modal system, including light rail to Tacoma, Everett, Ballard, West Seattle, and Issaquah. World-class metropolitan areas have world-class transit systems.

Posted Mon, May 26, 10:37 p.m. Inappropriate

There's a problem with Metro's equation. There's is no mass in transit. None. Zilch. There's also no reason for Metro to exist. As a jobs program it can't be associated with cost efficiency, it more rightly belongs in the category of waste management.

Djinn

Posted Tue, May 27, 6:31 a.m. Inappropriate

"Waste Management"?
... a 5 star comment if I ever heard one.

007

Posted Tue, May 27, 9:05 a.m. Inappropriate

Let's be clear on one item - no where does transit entirely pay for itself, never has and never will. Though it fluctuates the weekday bus boardings is about 375k, about 15k for vanpools, and about 4,200 for handicap access. That's quite a number of folks that I would rather not have clogging up our already congested roads.

I don't use the bus much because I bike - and I don't mind paying for some portion of the service as I see it contributes to the overall business health and general well being of the region - getting folks to work or appointments in a more efficient manner than driving, and providing a benefit to folks who have no other transportation access. We seem to be losing sight of the shared costs and benefits and I sense a growing trend of me first. I don't use the library much, the fire department, or the police - and I'm just fine paying for those.

While socially progressive I'm fiscally conservative. You can't run a system in an entrenched manner and expect folks to give you carte blanche for funding. Metro needs to try some new things - yes, some routes need to go or be served by some more efficient van service. The Municipal League came up with a number of what I'd consider reasonable alternatives to cutting service - raising monthly fees, raising cost of transfers, etc. The business head-tax seems a reasonable approach as well because downtown businesses benefit when their employees can get to work without the car hassle and downtown parking rates.

I'd encourage Metro to use this opportunity to find some creative solutions to deliver transportation - particularly using vans for some of the less-used routes.

Treker

Posted Tue, May 27, 10:30 a.m. Inappropriate

I don't understand how any transit advocate or agency or could seriously think "raising the cost of transfers" makes sense. No transit system can function without systemic transfers. Metro's lack of convenient transfers has created a legacy of redundant routes, ie, more buses than needed and too few running frequently.

The Burien clusterf*k transit center is a more common example of transfers poorly arranged. New Light rail lines rearrange old bus routes to reach stations, but both Metro and Sound Transit conspire/collude to construct transit centers that cannot reach an optimal transit function, nor with grandiose parking garages develop beyond noisy polluted nuisances to surrounding neighborhoods. Patrons deboarding at an LRT station need a bus within 5 minutes. Instead, 10 or more buses arrive/depart within 30 minutes, most travelling a circuitous, duplicative route to reach the station.

The gross inefficiencies built into the Metro/Sound transit system are preposterous. The political corruption within Washington State transit and transportation planning agencies is obvious. The more US cities are overrun with demoralizing traffic, the more Boeing profits serving futile temporary escapees.

Wells

Posted Thu, May 29, 4:34 p.m. Inappropriate

They're talking about eliminating paper transfers - ORCA users will still get free transfers, as long as they're within the transfer window.

The ORCA card costs $5. You can fill them at Safeway. There is really no reason for any transit user to not have one, unless they're a tourist or visitor.

Posted Tue, May 27, 10:47 a.m. Inappropriate

I'm guess then that your analysis is sharper than that of the Municipal League and their transit analysts.

Treker

Posted Wed, May 28, 7:29 p.m. Inappropriate

Metro, Sound Transit, Sdot, Wsdot, other agencies and the consultants and engineering firms they employ are a mutual admiration society covering each other's backs. Their spokespersons will never admit failure. Their directors and staff will keep silent to protect their paychecks.
My analysis is much sharper than your forked tongue.

Wells

Posted Mon, Jun 2, 9:43 p.m. Inappropriate

Dude - no reason to get so defensive. But if you have an actual analysis put it forth.

Otherwise it's just another internees opinion. And you know what the say, everyone has one.

Treker

Posted Tue, May 27, 3:36 p.m. Inappropriate

@mspat - Traffic is expected to get heavier as growth continues, and Metro estimates the 118.6 million passenger trips in 2013 kept an estimated 175,000 cars off of the roads each weekday. Transit is an important option for those who can use the service, and our guidelines show where we would add or expand service with resources. Links and resources to how we've managed our finances are online http://metro.kingcounty.gov/am/future/resources.html

Posted Thu, May 29, 1:56 p.m. Inappropriate

Appreciate you providing the link. I don't think it supports Metro's position. Has the 16% number, short on detail and actual figures as opposed to projections. Didn't see any date on it but it appears not that new--maybe prepared for the Prop. 1 vote?

Also, why is traffic projected to get heavier as growth continues? Aren't the young adults we're expecting devoted to avoiding car ownership? Aren't they all bikers, pedestrians, and train riders? Isn't that why we have reduced parking spot requirements for all the new towers going up and permitted to do so? What about all of the baby boomers who will be dying off? Will there be so many car lovers moving in that it will replace all of them and still constitute the minority of new arrivals? Metro may have "kept an estimated 175,000 cars off of the roads each weekday in 2013," but those are folks that apparently work in downtown Seattle M-F 9-5, so that doesn't account for or add any new information that would change my opinions. Sure, I concede those taking the bus to downtown M-5 9-5 are not driving. My point is that the streets, which I drive, are still full of people going past downtown in either direction, going east, going west, going other places beyond downtown, and Metro has not, does not, and will not serve them. I end up paying twice and losing road space on Aurora and further hours out of my life each working day because I have to pay to drive to my job in Tacoma, plus the taxes I pay for Metro, plus the removal of a third of Aurora from use by cars at commute hours, which costs me further fuel and time to the tune of 20 minutes/day +/-. And no amount of money given to Metro will make an iota of difference to me except that I might see another bus or two in the mostly empty dedicated bus lanes on Aurora. That doesn't offset my costs in money and time. Meanwhile, while I didn't go through all of the pages at the link you sent, I didn't notice anything elucidating the specific number of managers and how many of them are earning six figures. That would be good to know.

mspat

Posted Fri, May 30, 10:56 a.m. Inappropriate

Translation: I don't take the bus therefore I don't want to be taxed for the service. Does this apply to the library, police, fire and other shared services. Don't like the street lights? Maybe everything should just be a pay as you go system. Good grief.

Treker

Posted Fri, May 30, 3:37 p.m. Inappropriate

Partly correct. I don't take the bus because it doesn't serve me, or many, many more like me, so I don't want to pay for downtown employers' employees to get to work, which is where Metro allocates the majority of its services. As for the other things, well, I pay, and I pay plenty for many services I don't use, like public schools, for example. I think they are not doing a very good job of educating our children but I support them for the opportunities they do present for the whole community. Same for police and firefighters --I rarely need to ask for those services, but hold it as a community value that we have them available to keep the peace and to do all the many other things firefighters do, even though when someone hit and ran me/my car an officer didn't appear for over an hour and SPD did not investigate the issue at all. However, I feel that there is some value in police, fire, libraries, which I use all the time but whose new buildings I find repellent. I do, however, draw the line at giving another cent to the bloated and overpaid mess that is Metro. I have lived here all but 7 years of my life and service has steadily gone downhill, especially for travel east-west. They can serve all of us and downtown employers can pay a head tax to haul their workers in and out, and they can cut the "executive" ranks that are earning six figures, and then I might be persuaded, not before.

mspat

Posted Mon, Jun 2, 8:09 p.m. Inappropriate

Opps, Time to call the waaabulance.

Treker

Posted Tue, May 27, 5:08 p.m. Inappropriate

Promised service increases never seem to materialize Jeff. How long would you expect taxpayers to continue to hold their collective noses and pay whatever is being asked? When a team is failing, generally they expect to see some effort by management ( King County) to either change the leadership of the team or restructure. Instead, we get proposals on how to get around recent defeats at the ballot box and carry on.

Cameron

Posted Thu, May 29, 8:53 p.m. Inappropriate

This isn't a football team. This is a public service that's prey to increased demand and lessened financial support. There are no big-bucks owners who can hire another manager and go after million-dollar players.

sarah90

Posted Tue, May 27, 6:32 p.m. Inappropriate

This, I think, is the crux of the matter. Even for folks who are generally supportive of transit - including me.

Treker

Posted Tue, May 27, 7:13 p.m. Inappropriate

Larger municipalities/systems with rapid transit/subways have comparatively lower costs and higher revenues. Want to achieve similar efficiencies? Build out light rail to Tacoma, Everett, Ballard, West Seattle, and Issaquah.

Smaller municipalities/systems often have lower service levels, leading to patronage drops.

Some have much lower farebox recovery than Metro's current 29%, such as Dallas' DART with a 12%...

Posted Wed, May 28, 9:53 a.m. Inappropriate

Metro does not have a 29% farebox recovery. Stop lying.

In 2013 Metro's spending was at the $900 million level ($640M operations costs and $260M capital costs). Its farebox revenue that year was about $156 million. That means its farebox recovery was just over 17%, not 29%.

Even if you look at just operations spending, Metro's own documents show it does FAR worse than the average in terms of farebox recovery.

For the 50 busiest metro region transit systems nationwide the average farebox recovery ratio was 36 percent in 2012:

http://www.ntdprogram.gov/ntdprogram/pubs/top_profiles/2012/Transit%20Profiles%20Top%2050%20Agencies%20Summary.pdf

In sharp contrast, these days farebox revenue only makes up 23% of Metro's operations costs:

http://metro.kingcounty.gov/am/budget/revenue.html

And as for your grossly misleading assertion that Sound Transit somehow is "efficient" -- well, I'm SURE you won't try backing that up.

Estimate the tax cost the public is expected to bear due to the unprecedented and abusive financing practice that municipality employs. You know, the one that involves securing mountains of long-term debt securities with pledges to confiscate sales taxes and car tab taxes at or near the maximum rates while any of those bonds remain outstanding.

Is addressing municipal finance issues truthfully above your pay grade?

crossrip

Posted Wed, May 28, 11:08 a.m. Inappropriate

29% was Metro's last reported farebox recovery rate:

"Financial - Annual : Metro Bus Farebox Recovery

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012

Target 25 25 25 25 25 25

Farebox
Recovery 19.8 23.4 25.7 26.9 28.1 29"

See: http://metro.kingcounty.gov/am/reports/annual-measures/financial.html

Farebox recovery ratio is the percentage of total operating expenses covered by farebox revenues.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farebox_recovery_ratio

Posted Wed, May 28, 11:55 a.m. Inappropriate

Those are bogus figures.

For starters, that link has a chart on it that ignores Metro's Access fares and operations costs.

More fundamentally, if you are going to describe accurately the percentage of Metro's costs that are covered by farebox revenue you need to include Metro's capital expenditures. The primary capital expenditures -- bus replacement costs -- are predictable and fairly constant. In addition, fare revenue is fungible. Metro has full and complete authority to spend those dollars on capital or operations costs.

Metro distributes fully 20% of its heavy regressive tax revenue to the capital budget each year, unlike peers such as TriMet that use their modest tax revenue streams almost entirely for operations. The reality is that "operations" and "capital" spending are considered together by Metro's management, so separating them for the purposes of trying to make fares look high enough to readers of blog posts is nothing but a mnisleading artifice.

Now, provide some useful data points, and not those summary figures Metro put out. Give us a link to a King County document showing actual spending by Metro and actual fares it obtained last year. These pie charts ( http://metro.kingcounty.gov/am/budget/revenue.html ) are where I obtained the figures in my post: 2013 Metro spending of about $900 million ($640M operations costs and $260M capital costs), and farebox revenue of about $156 million. Can you find more accurate figures than those?

crossrip

Posted Wed, May 28, 1:55 p.m. Inappropriate

No, the typical way to calculate "operating costs" is to not include capital costs. This is the way all transit authorities do it - your way is inflating the numbers, especially when you compare it to the farebox ratio from other transit authorities - it's like apples and oranges.

So Crazy Donkey has laid out where he got his figures - where are yours coming from? I'm all for more efficiencies - but using false calculations doesn't give weight to such and argument.

Treker

Posted Wed, May 28, 11:11 a.m. Inappropriate

Typically capital costs are not included in transit calculations to determine the fare box return - the correct comparison should be to operating costs. It looks like you are including bond payments, capital costs, payments to the specific total revenue fund that were not spent, and ??? I get a return of 23% for 2012 as does this source which provides a view on how to calculate this ratio. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farebox_recovery_ratio

$63M spent on operating costs (not total put into fund sector - so doesn't count what wasn't spent) vs $145M revenue (fares only, not taxes or payments from other entities).

So what is the source of your numbers?

Treker

Posted Wed, May 28, 1:51 p.m. Inappropriate

If @crossrip doesn't like the truth, he invents his own.

If capital costs were to be included in the farebox recovery ratio calculation, it would be much less useful for comparative purposes, since capital costs go up and down significantly, while operating costs do not (excepting steep rises in fuel and/or labor costs, for instance).

Perhaps he would be happier living in Dallas, where DART has a farebox recovery ratio of 12%.

See: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/transportation/20130810-at-30-dart-still-faces-growing-pains.ece

Metro's farebox recovery ratio is actually near the top, when looking at comparable metropolitan service areas.

Posted Thu, May 29, 9:32 a.m. Inappropriate

The farebox recovery ratio is a standard metric used by transit agencies around the world. It is defined as fare revenue divided by operating expenses. The 2012 peer comparison of 30 of the largest transit agencies shows that Metro’s 29% bus farebox recovery ratio was above the peer average of 27.8%. Link: http://www.ntdprogram.gov/ntdprogram/pubs/top_profiles/2012/Transit%20Profiles%20Top%2050%20Agencies.pdf --Jeff Switzer, Metro Transit

Posted Thu, May 29, 10:10 a.m. Inappropriate

"Move along. Nothing to see here," nervously quips a Metronoidal.

Wells

Posted Thu, May 29, 12:59 p.m. Inappropriate

At least he's honest about who is paying him...

Posted Thu, May 29, 2:53 p.m. Inappropriate

While I agree that Metro needs to make some adjustments, the shrill tone and outright lies put forward above due nothing to solidify any opposing view.

Tell us what you see as the problem, back it up with some facts (not hysterics or arm waving), tell us what you think would help and why.

Otherwise STFU already.

Treker

Posted Fri, May 30, 9:59 a.m. Inappropriate

Many many times on this forum board I've explained in detail what is wrong with the Metro/Sound Transit system and how it could be improved, only to be met with hacks like Treker who begin arguments with smarmy remarks following my posts, not a trace of understanding about particular points I make. Treker is a STFU troll who can't be reasoned with, another typical Seattler, too smart or too stoned for their own good or too tied into the establishment to address legitimate and indeed alarming concerns. Bertha must be stopped.

Anyone should be able to obtain copies of my work, The Seattle Circulator Plan (particularly its Trolleybus Reconfiguration proposal), from City Hall.

Wells

Posted Fri, May 30, 1:38 p.m. Inappropriate

In the end, the Seattle "progressive" will always tell his opponent to "STFU." The kumbaya act is just that, an act. This city's "progressives" are every last bit as vicious as the nastiest wingnut.

NotFan

Posted Sat, May 31, 8:20 p.m. Inappropriate

If someone intentionally misstates the facts, continuously makes unsubstantiated claims, refuses to cite their sources, and resorts to ad hominum attacks when challenged, then they are not trying to participate in, but are only trying to disrupt, any conversation, discussion, or debate.

Posted Mon, Jun 2, 8:11 p.m. Inappropriate

You are mistaking these folks for ones who 1) can use logical rhetoric, and 2) understand the nuances of formulating a defensible argument, and 3) can stay on topic.

Treker

Posted Wed, Jun 4, 10:39 a.m. Inappropriate

Genuine ignorance is... profitable because it is likely to be accompanied by humility, curiosity, and open mindedness; whereas ability to repeat catch-phrases, cant terms, familiar propositions, gives the conceit of learning and coats the mind with varnish waterproof to new ideas. ~John Dewey

Lily32

Posted Thu, May 29, 10:10 a.m. Inappropriate

""

Wells

Posted Thu, May 29, 5:08 p.m. Inappropriate

From the report:

Trolleybuses:

$23,547,904 (fare revenue) / $57,312,083 (operating expense) =

41% (farebox recovery ratio)

Other buses:

$117,724,121 (fare revenue) / $430,144,035 (operating expense) =

27% (farebox recovery ratio)

Pretty clear where most of the red ink is - in the Northend, Southend, Westside, and Eastside suburbs.

No light rail numbers in the 2012 report, but I assume they'll be in the 2013 report when it comes out.

Posted Thu, May 29, 5:19 p.m. Inappropriate

Correction: Metro received $13,989,391 and $13,895,391 from operating ST's light rail and commuter bus services, or close to $28 million.

Posted Fri, May 30, 1:36 p.m. Inappropriate

This is a city with half a billion for a waterfront. That gave Paul Allen a new street. That will build a half-billion dollar basketball arena if they can only find a team. That could have repaired its viaduct for $800 million but chose to spend at least $4 billion instead. That approved a $400 million bike path plan.

There is no shortage of money here. Anyone who votes for any levy is being a complete sucker. The "progressives" will always find money for whatever they actually want, regardless of how stupid or wasteful it might be.

NotFan

Posted Fri, May 30, 4:04 p.m. Inappropriate

Notfan, like most big cities, Seattle is ruled by elite conservative business interests. A waterfront without the 'unrepairably' derelict AWV will certainly produce valuable returns culturally and economically. Same goes for bicycle pathways if Sdot and the Parks department were competent designers of roads and public places. Their high costs are surely a sign the end product will fall short of promises and expectations. I'm not impressed with Sculpture Park nor the new Alaskan Way nor Waterfront designs nor the no doubt soon to be drooled over "Big Head" which seems to me is begging the question, "Is this town too stupid for words or what? Oommm..."

Wells

Posted Fri, May 30, 5:19 p.m. Inappropriate

If you guys can't stay on topic can you at least ask a friend to help you compose something witty instead of repeating the usual stale prose? Yawn.

Treker

Posted Sat, May 31, 12:03 a.m. Inappropriate

Ha ha ha ha, you're so funny, ha ha ha, except stupid.
Anyway, Notfan I'm your fan. Like your style dude. Wow.
Are Seattler TYPE weird? They hate me for that kinda stuff. Hah!
They're acting dishonest or dimwitted, no question about it.
But let's say, if liberals are misled, who's doing the misleading, conservatives, right?
Of course. The money defines the politics.
Why can't Bill Gates people build decent sidewalk, treescapes, park shrubbery.
But they oh-so-love their Sculptury sculpted sculpturifical sculptursations! Ooo Aaa! (^;
The Waterfront design isn't as good as it should be.
Traffic will be rows of cars entering beside rows exiting.
Long lines at ferry exits/entrances. Backups blocks at a time.
Not sure current design is best. Fundamentals are neglected.

------------------------------

Corporate giant Costco fails as a marketing model in terms of transportation. A single Costco induces 10x the fuel combustion compared to neighborhood stores or district shopping centers, while putting these out of business. Amazon and Boeing similarly fall short in these terms of transportation costs and impacts. A progressive carbon tax would bankrupt these (low-cost?) corporate giants.

Meanwhile, Wsdot consistently constructs absurdly substandard highways. Seattle transit agencies fall short of national standards, nevermind world standards. BNSF plans to dedicate its rails to fossil fuel transport through the Pacific Northwest. Seattle’s economy is more dependent upon diesel-spewing global trade than any US port. Yeah, we could address global warming, but the subject of transport is too far down the list of concerns Seattlers hold dearly, never f’kn mind competent discussion among peers. So says this Oregonian.

ODOT was finished with Wsdot boys in 2008. Wsdot guys also misled Port authorities about rail oval track spurs and what’s called a “Spagetti ramps” hazards on Hayden Island. Washingtonian advice in transportation matters is no longer accepted south of thee Columbia River.
Bertha must not proceed, period, end of story.
Drill-Fill Sea Fence? Not a good idea, period.
MercerWest QueenAnne Truck Route? How f’n dare you?
Check out the WsDOT angle for retaining Battery Street Tunnel.
YOU WILL LIKE IT, honest, trust me. BOX CUT-COVER/SEAWALL
Do not reject/neglect its study. Study it or shut up.
Are you listening? Tacomans? What is it with Seattlers? Goodgod.
You get Bertha out of there, done, now.
BOX Cut-cover Tunnel/Seawall option instead.
The drill-fill “sea-fence” is poorly-advised.
Goodgod, what mistakes!
Which way did dey go, Trekcur?


Wells

Posted Mon, Jun 2, 11:04 a.m. Inappropriate

I think this rambling non-sequitur needs references to how vaccines cause autism, the Masons, going back to the gold standard, and the world Illuminati to be considered complete. Keep up the good fight.

Treker

Posted Sat, May 31, 12:49 a.m. Inappropriate

... says the "progressive," whose most honest comment was "STFU."

NotFan

Posted Sat, May 31, 9:07 a.m. Inappropriate

That is a good one.
I am borrowing your joke.
My dissertation contests globalization fairly well.
You're welcome.
More jokes please.

Wells

Posted Mon, Jun 2, 5:57 p.m. Inappropriate

"Contests globalization". Thanks - the lack of topic sentence kept us wondering what, exactly your rambling had to do with the article on Metro transit and its funding.

With this explanation you have crystalized it all.

Treker

Posted Wed, Jun 4, 9:43 a.m. Inappropriate

Treker's only success is in being annoying.
Here repeated is my brief dissertation against globalization:

"Corporate giant Costco fails as a marketing model in terms of transportation. A single Costco induces 10x the fuel combustion compared to neighborhood stores or district shopping centers, while putting these out of business. Amazon and Boeing similarly fall short in these terms of transportation costs and impacts. A progressive carbon tax would bankrupt these (low-cost?) corporate giants.

Meanwhile, Wsdot consistently constructs absurdly substandard highways. BNSF plans to dedicate its rails to fossil fuel transport through the Pacific Northwest. Seattle’s economy is more dependent upon diesel-spewing global trade than any US port. We could address global warming, but the subject of transport is too far down the list of concerns Seattlers hold dearly (nor understand clearly) nevermind competent discussion among peers.
So says this Oregonian."

Treker, what's your claim to fame, your reason to justify your existence? Here, you're only an amateur provocateur employing satire/sarcasm/ridicule. More unfortunately, you're a censor trying to frame debate in terms your group of likeminded twits approve.

Wells

Posted Wed, Jun 4, 10:29 a.m. Inappropriate

Well it's pretty darn easy to ridicule some of these posts! And they deserve it. No matter what the conversation at had it comes down to globalization, rail transportation, Costco, and of course - the ultimate conspiracy, the 99 tunnel.

It's like listening to a juke box with a thousand music choices but for some reason no matter what button you press the same record keeps playing. God man - try and keep up with the conversation at hand already!

If this is supposed to be a post-modernistic play on the saturation of the media and a Laurie Anderson - type theater performance on the effects of information saturation - then it's brilliant!

If not - then I guess at some point in one of the War-and-Peace prognostications you'll circle back around the earth and tell us, exactly, WTF the tirade on globalization, Costco, and of course, the "cut-and-cover" has to due with this article on Metro's budget.

But I doubt it. Cheers.

Lily32

Posted Wed, Jun 4, 10:33 a.m. Inappropriate

Hmmm. Well. I was just going to say the presented discussion doesn't seem to be well connected to the original article. But this post says it in a more entertaining way. Yikes.

Treker

Posted Sun, Jun 1, 12:01 a.m. Inappropriate

I am not sure why people are upset with the transfers. Metro even forces people to transfer more often in some cases in restructures for a single trip. I have used mass transit in many major cities, and they all have a transfer system. A boarding does not equal a passenger. Often after Metro restructures force more transfers, Metro will say that they have an increase in boardings and imply that is an increase in the number of passengers they are serving. In any case when evaluating new restructures, Metro should develop some type of metric that accounts for this nuance.

joannac

Posted Mon, Jun 2, 4:06 p.m. Inappropriate

Portland's Tri-Met offers 2-hour tickets with transfers for return trips. First, you think about what people want, then figure they want a 2-way transit system. "Oh, this is so difficult to figure out. Why even try to find fault with transfers. Oh, those transit users.
Ho Ho who cares?"

Wells

Posted Sun, Jun 1, 1:58 p.m. Inappropriate

I remember when transfers were one-way only - your transfer was not good for a return trip on the same route or in the same corridor. That was in the mid-1970s for Seattle Transit, when the fare was 25 cents, plus 10 cents if crossing a zone-line (ship-canal in the north, not sure about in the south).

A round-trip under that regime, say from Ballard to Downtown and back, would have cost 70 cents, which equates to $3.00 in today's money.

Personally, I wouldn't mind three-hour, or "half-day", transfers, which would encourage more people to utilize transit for shopping trips, medical appointments, outings, etc., but at a surcharge of 25 cents per transfer.

I'm in favor of eliminating paper transfers, which would take care of the transfer-hoarder scofflaws. There's really no reason not to have an ORCA card these days. Those without cards (mostly tourists and visitors) would have to pay full-fare per boarding.

Posted Sun, Jun 1, 5:09 p.m. Inappropriate

Perhaps not, but to put one's head in the sand and say there is nothing one can do is ridiculous. First, Metro needs to establish a "reasonable" farebox recovery rate, calculating it the same as the top bus agencies they're comparing themselves to: only compare directly-operated service and don't add advertising $ in the numerator to overstate farebox recovery. Some say 36% is the average, Metro says they're above average. How about 30% or 33%? Here's a list of what could "buy back" a fair amount of service.

1. Adjust the number of trips that a monthly pass is based on. Currently, it's 36, or 18 round trips. The average month has 22 workdays. The price assumes riders take 48 days off/year when half that is more likely.
2. Charge a premium fare for express (peak) trips, as their peer agencies do.
3. Eliminate the paper transfer slip to save printing costs and drastically cut fare evasion, as others in the region have done. Combine with this eliminate - or greatly reduce - the fee for an ORCA card, which is a barrier to its acquisition. Also, greatly expand the availability of the card.
4. Decouple senior fares from disabled fares. Many seniors still work at 65 and beyond, there's nothing magical about that age. Metro could at least raise the age to correspond with Social Security's full retirement age, to 67.
5. Metro discounts fares for seniors, disabled, youth, and especially paratransit rides more than other transits in the region. Bring these to parity.
6. Charge Sound Transit the full cost of operating Link vs. undercharging.
7. Metro embarked on a performance audit and cost-cutting only due to council directive and the Great Recession, respectively, not because they should be doing so anyway, while keeping service at, for the most part, full strength, vs. gradually reducing it to reflect revenue levels. Now, as a result, they're at the cliff. Meanwhile, they've reported substantial increases in many costs, such as 80% for security, yet have bemoaned fare increases, while their farebox recovery is, even with the increases, only around average! These fare increases should represent passing on the operating cost increases to their riders, though I never saw it reported whether the fare increases even covered these increases in operating costs. My guess is: probably not. It would be more prudent for Metro to program in, beyond next January's, regularly-scheduled fare increases to cover inflationary costs.

bricsa

Posted Wed, Jun 4, 5:36 p.m. Inappropriate

You claim that Metro includes advertising revenue in farebox recovery. Provide your source.

Metro states: "Farebox recovery is the ratio of bus fare revenue to bus operating costs." Are you calling them liars?

Here's my source: http://metro.kingcounty.gov/am/reports/annual-measures/financial.html

Where's yours?

Posted Wed, Jun 4, 8:18 p.m. Inappropriate

Lies again on the fare box return. Really - you can't keep just throwing false information around like this bricsa.

Not much credibility.

Treker

Posted Thu, Jun 5, 11:46 a.m. Inappropriate

Add to that the unsubstantiated claim that Metro is "undercharging" Sound Transit for operating Link.

From Metro: "Other revenue-backed activities have also increased Metro’s total costs, most notably the start of Link light rail service in 2009. This service is provided under contract with Sound Transit. Although Sound Transit reimburses Metro for the costs, Metro’s program expenses include these costs."

See: http://metro.kingcounty.gov/am/reports/2014/metro-transit-finances-overview-02-03-14.pdf

Posted Thu, Jun 5, 12:10 p.m. Inappropriate

Now you've done it. Bringing facts into the discussion. How clever.

Lily32

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