Question for Metro? Share it with West Seattle Chamber

April 6, 2014 at 11:56 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 37 Comments

On the heels of this past week’s Westside Awards breakfast event (WSB coverage, with video, here), the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce has its monthly luncheon coming up next Thursday, and it’s a timelier-than-ever topic: King County Metro Transit. Ballots are arriving now (we received ours Saturday) for the April 22nd special election including Proposition 1, asking you to approve a vehicle-license fee and sales-tax increase to raise money for transit and road work. Still have questions? The Chamber invites advance suggestions for Q/A – send yours to info@wschamber.com. As Chamber CEO Lynn Dennis notes, “This is our opportunity to speak with Metro face to face.” The lunch-and-Q/A event is Thursday (April 10th), 11:30 am at The Kenney (7125 Fauntleroy Way SW; WSB sponsor); you can register online here.

37 Comments

  1. Metro officials said they needed that temporary $20 fee because sales-tax revenues were down due to the recession. The recession is over and record sales-tax revenues for Metro of $471 million are forecast for 2014.
    Between 2000 and 2012, Metro’s operating costs increased by 83 percent, revenues increased by 56 percent and ridership increased by only 20 percent. Metro’s hourly operating cost is higher than all but three of the top 10 U.S. transit agencies,
    Fares cover only 28 percent of Metro’s operating cost. Of the top 10 U.S. transit agencies, only two have a slightly lower farebox recovery. The average farebox recovery for these top 10 is 36 percent.

    Comment by Nope — 12:29 pm April 6, 2014 #

  2. So if I do not have $40 to drop, I cannot attend??? Not acceptable!

    Comment by buddsmom — 1:28 pm April 6, 2014 #

  3. Buddsmom, Metro has appeared at plenty of free public meetings (all publicized here). The Chamber is a nonprofit. Their monthly lunch meetings, like every such organization in existence, have always had fees – pays for the food, the room. And whatever overage helps pay their expenses, which are fairly nominal so far as I know – small office, very small staff (despite the fact they theoretically are advocating for the entire business community of a peninsula with 100,000 residents). How would you propose they make money to cover their bills? By the way, I don’t know their rules on auditing the lunch meetings without eating – please call and ask if you are truly interested in attending. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 1:51 pm April 6, 2014 #

  4. It’s all about taking care of Metro.

    Comment by Rick — 3:34 pm April 6, 2014 #

  5. I don’t know all the why and the how but I do know that metro is in trouble and needs funding via the special election vote mail sitting on my desk. I also know that a lot of people do not pay to ride because they just take advantage of the holes in the new system and jump on the back of the bus with old or maybe no transfers. We ride the C normally twice a week and still see it now and then. Ive lived in Oklahoma City and Houston Metro areas and I can tell you this bus system is way better but it wont stand very well for long with out money to hold it up and the Seattle area will become quite miserable with gridlock traffic with out it, not to mention people caught with out being able to get to where they need to go. I don’t agree with all of Metro’s decisions but I do think we should support them. Dont know about the rest of you but we have an old car that likes to overheat and with out metro our life would be really hard.

    Comment by cj — 4:15 pm April 6, 2014 #

  6. cj, I agree with most of your points but I have one question. Do you know for sure the people getting on the back of the C aren’t tapping their Orca cards at the card readers at the kiosks? Or did you observe them not tapping?

    Also they might have monthly passes loaded onto their Orca cards–they’re still supposed to tap of course, but even if they didn’t tap, they still would have paid for their ride in the monthly pass.

    Comment by West Seattle since 1979 — 5:10 pm April 6, 2014 #

  7. You also don’t have to tap if you transfer from another bus onto a Rapid Ride bus. I can confirm this because I do it often & fare enforcement officers see the transfer on my card & just say thanks before moving on to the next person.

    Comment by Chris W — 6:45 pm April 6, 2014 #

  8. Not one person who drives a car, rides a bike, or rides a bus actually pays the true costs for access to roads and maintenance. Prop 1 is regressive, and regressive taxes are horrible. But if you do not vote for Prop 1, 10,000 cars in West Seattle ALONE will be back on the road. 30,000 within all of King County.
    *
    You vote for this for your elderly, and differently abled neighbors, your students who rely on public transportation, and mostly, for yourself to save the extra 10 -15 minutes it will take you to get anywhere if this does not pass.

    Comment by AmandaKH — 7:04 pm April 6, 2014 #

  9. Cj: would you still feel the same if you learned that many Metro drivers make more than $100k per year?
    Also, what if Metro simply raised fares by 50 cents for the 115 million annual riders? Metro will not become efficient until they have to. This ballot measure is asking for another free pass.

    Comment by Nope — 7:14 pm April 6, 2014 #

  10. They are going to raise fares.

    Comment by West Seattle since 1979 — 8:07 pm April 6, 2014 #

  11. March 2015, fifth increase since 2008, as announced in January with details of the ballot measure:
    .
    http://westseattleblog.com/2014/01/sales-tax-increase-vehicle-fee-fare-hike-proposed-to-hold-off-metro-cuts-could-go-to-april-vote

    Comment by WSB — 8:10 pm April 6, 2014 #

  12. Nope, please provide a link. It’s my understanding that, while there may be a few that make that with overtime, it’s a minority of them and those are the ones that have been there the longest.

    And to be honest, it’s a hard job, one where they have to put up with a lot of crap from some people, including violence. And to be on the alert constantly.

    Comment by West Seattle since 1979 — 8:19 pm April 6, 2014 #

  13. “Metro does not even require a high school degree to become a transit operator, yet there are now 243 who make over $75k per year and 20 who make over $100k per year.” (Report from 2010)
    http://www.washingtonpolicy.org/publications/notes/king-county-metro-bus-driver-wages-grow-out-control

    Comment by Nope — 8:41 pm April 6, 2014 #

  14. The report covered 2009. Here’s Mike Lindblom (Seattle Times transportation reporter and West Seattleite)’s report at about that same time. 20 bus drivers out of 2,600 made 100,000+ in 2009 with OT:
    .
    http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2012834601_metrodriver08m.html
    .
    Last year, their proposed contract included a one-year wage freeze and subsequent 2-percent increases. I found a December “no” vote documented on the transit union’s website. Still trying to find out what happened after that.
    .
    (added) They have not yet voted on a subsequent contract proposal, according to union newsletters viewable online (like this one http://www.atu587.com/sites/default/files/ATUApril2014_6.pdf )

    Comment by WSB — 8:53 pm April 6, 2014 #

  15. cj, also there are fare enforcers who patrol the Rapid Ride C and other Rapid Ride buses. Fare evaders face a $124 fine if they’re caught.

    Comment by West Seattle since 1979 — 9:02 pm April 6, 2014 #

  16. I am close friends with many people who are Metro bus drivers and not one of them make $75 or $100k. In fact all of them used to be former West Seattle residents and now live in South King County because they can not afford to live here.They have been drivers for Metro for years. They have been spit on, some hit, and had guns pulled on them.

    Comment by d. Del Rio — 9:03 pm April 6, 2014 #

  17. Nope, good for them. They earn it. It’s a tough job.

    Comment by West Seattle since 1979 — 9:03 pm April 6, 2014 #

  18. Thank you Tracy, for supplying the facts! So it’s .07% of drivers who make over $100K. Less than 1%.

    Probably they’ve worked for many years as drivers; some might be working overtime as well.

    And as I mentioned before, it seems like a very hard job with all they have to put up with.

    Comment by West Seattle since 1979 — 9:10 pm April 6, 2014 #

  19. I agree the bus drivers work hard. I ride the bus daily but…
    .
    This cycle repeats itself every few years. Metro will be back in 5 years threatening service cuts again regardless of how much we give. Ten years is far too long to give KC Metro money. KC Metro NEVER delivers on their promise. Rapid Ride? $20 fee to save service? Sales taxes increases to save service? The only tax they are sunsetting is the $20 they are planning to replace with $60 LOL.
    .
    Vote yes and the legislature will never pass transit funding. And even if they did, KC Metro won’t give you your $60 back. If you think they will, I have some Yakama oceanfront property to sell you.

    Comment by Eric1 — 12:25 am April 7, 2014 #

  20. Vote no and the legislature won’t pass transit funding either. Our legislators might vote for it, but there are a lot of legislators in other parts of the state who don’t want it because it doesn’t help their area.

    Comment by West Seattle since 1979 — 8:29 am April 7, 2014 #

  21. “Fare evaders face a $124 fine if they’re caught.”

    Anyone have any idea how many fines have been issued and payed?

    Have the fare enforcers even covered their own cost?

    Just found this, still reading:

    http://metro.kingcounty.gov/am/reports/2010/FareEvasion04-10.pdf

    Comment by flynlo — 9:56 am April 7, 2014 #

  22. Taxes!!! Waste!! Dogs and Cats living together!! Mass Hysteria!!

    Look people, if you want to have a reasonably modern, functioning infrastructure for your region, it’s going to cost some $.

    The state legislature isn’t holding up funding because of Metro, it’s doing it because THEY want more money for THEIR area’s infrastructure.

    If you want to yell and pound your fists on the table about funding Metro and NO on Prop 1, just do us all a favor and move to Sequim. I don’t THINK they have any transportation funding to ponder right now. Let those of us here in a dense urban environment get important work done to support ourselves.

    Are there better ways to fund our transpo infrastructure? Absolutely. Do I want to cut off my nose to make a pointless point? To borrow a moniker above…”nope”.

    Comment by wakeflood — 9:57 am April 7, 2014 #

  23. Oh, and I have a question for Eric1.

    Just what about turning down taxing OF OURSELVES in Seattle is going to encourage the few recalcitrant Senators who ALREADY WANT US TO FAIL – to pass taxation for transit ON OUR BEHALF???

    They’ll simply point to the election and say, “SEE?, even they don’t want it for themselves!”

    Go ahead, I’m listening…

    Comment by wakeflood — 11:40 am April 7, 2014 #

  24. flynb, that’s from before Rapid Ride C and D started. Be interesting to see a more recent one. However, I kind of doubt there’s anywhere near enough fare evasion to make up the deficit.

    Comment by West Seattle since 1979 — 12:32 pm April 7, 2014 #

  25. Bottom Line, Seattle is a growing city that needs mass transit. Seattle needs people to be tempted to use it instead of their cars, If Metro costs more than taking your cab and is a huge pain, no one will use it. Driving is Seattle’s fave but Seattle-ites need to try to take the bus more so there is less traffic. If more people use metro their will be more revenue so Metro will add more routs and become more useful. Metro is not perfect but its better than nothing. VOTE YES!

    Comment by Noelle — 1:32 pm April 7, 2014 #

  26. flynlo, not only is the Study before RR’s C & D were implemented, as WSs1979 but before the Ride Free Area was abolished.

    .

    Mike

    Comment by miws — 4:24 pm April 7, 2014 #

  27. metro is needed of course, but they are also incredibly wasteful – its hard to justify shoveling more money at them when they waste it on BS like rapid ride, annoy curb bulbs, ridiculous electronic signage, etc.

    .

    I have to vote no on this one. work better with the huge pile of money you already get, metro.

    Comment by flimflam — 4:30 pm April 7, 2014 #

  28. flimflam – The money for RapidRide was a federal grant. All the rest you mentioned – fall under the federal stuff.

    Comment by AmandaKH — 6:30 pm April 7, 2014 #

  29. There are more than just a few Senators that want transit to fail. There are a lot of legislators that “hate Seattle”. Heck, they didn’t even hold up their end of 1/2 a bridge over the Columbia. I say it is high time we tell off the rest of the state. I’d prefer if the three county area legislators would stop voting for any legislation that didn’t distribute funds according to the amount each county generates. It might teach those “independently funded” east/north/south counties just where their money comes from.
    .
    As far as Metro goes, most of you guys obviously don’t write contracts. If the same vendor keeps promising you 100 chickens for $200 and keeps giving you 80 because his wholesaler “just” increased prices (again), you guys would obviously feel sorry for him and keep renewing the contract. I sure as hell wouldn’t. He might be the only chicken vendor but I’d rather eat tough-as-leather $2 a pound beef for awhile and teach him a lesson.
    .
    Metro has been cutting service for years. I still get to work. It might take longer and smell worse but I still get there. Most buses I take could pack 20% more people in them. Metro will do what they must and they might even throw in some reforms to get more votes next time.
    .
    Bottome line, say this measure fails. Metro can still raise fares without a vote. My commute is “free” from my employer. Apparently so are the commutes for 60% of the other riders. Simply add a dollar to the fare to generate more income. Low income people will still pay $1.50 (cheaper than current rates) and Metro would get $3.50 from my employer. That is a win-win situation, why vote for a regressive tax?

    Comment by Eric1 — 6:36 pm April 7, 2014 #

  30. The first comment by Nope says it all, A yes vote is Insanity.

    Comment by D.D.S — 9:27 pm April 7, 2014 #

  31. To all the new money out there, please, just write a check to the city, as much as you can afford. Regular folk are taxed out. With prop 1, then the parks levy, then tunnel overruns, then increasing utilities, then waterfront Disneyland, then seawall replacement, then coming tolls…. Those with extra, just write the blank check.

    Comment by taxed out — 10:28 pm April 7, 2014 #

  32. If you mean by “free” fares from your employer, you’re suggesting that it doesn’t cost anyone? Your employer figures that expense into their costs of employing you and adjusts your other benefits/salary accordingly. Metro is already subsidizing fares to the tune of 75% or more. That’s the cost of doing business in ANY big city.

    So jacking fares is as regressive as it gets since it affects folks with the least available $ – meaning the low wage working stiffs. But that’s ok?

    You tax scolds have one agenda and it’s a dead end for the rest of us.

    Comment by wakeflood — 8:04 am April 8, 2014 #

  33. Transit system should be privatized. Shut metro down hand the keys over to a privateer. Would be so much more efficient with the same budget they have now. Metro has no reason to change and get better when they are never held accountable and keep getting what they want. Just like a spoiled kid they keep whining till they get what they want. It’s a big problem we have here with our city government, inefficiency at its best. Just keep voting yes to feed them along with all the other tax increases coming and in 2 years they will want more as there is no reason not to. Look at how many bad billions this town is spending on projects and then they say they don’t have enough to fund real concerns of this city. Give them more money I think not vote NO on all tax increases until they start spending responsibly ; )

    Comment by wetone — 10:56 am April 8, 2014 #

  34. Metro has implemented nearly every recommendation suggested by the Auditor’s office — http://www.kingcounty.gov/council/news/2013/March/LP_transit_audit.aspx — and raised fares several times over the last few years, so I don’t know why folks keep claiming wasteful spending.
    .
    Transit ridership keeps increasing (after lessening during the recession), and yet Metro takes in LESS TAX DOLLARS right now than before. Making less money means you have less to spend. Logical, no?
    .
    So Metro has done the right thing — offfered you a choice. Cut your spending, or ask for a raise.

    Comment by Mickymse — 2:58 pm April 8, 2014 #

  35. [Transit ridership keeps increasing] Well I hope so with all the building and population increase around here. [Metro has implemented nearly every recommendation suggested by the Auditor’s office] well that gives me a warm fuzzy feeling government watching over themselves. I really like this statement from your link [Transit mitigation in the Alaskan Way Viaduct corridor since 2010 has resulted in 17,000 new daily transit riders and a reduction of 25,000 daily vehicle trips] I wish someone could explain that one. Think about that, how does 17k daily riders translate to a reduction of 25k vehicle trips ? poorly worded if nothing else. Metro and our city government both need help starting at the top levels and that is something money will never fix.

    Comment by wetone — 5:29 pm April 8, 2014 #

  36. This is an extremely important vote, let’s encourage everyone we know to vote YES.
    .
    A no vote would be a tragedy for Seattle and for everyone who lives here. Car drivers will be stuck in far worse congestion because there will be significantly more cars on the road. Bus riders (especially those dependent on buses, such as the young, disabled and old) will be left stranded.
    .
    Remember that this is not about giving Metro more money. It is about restoring funding that to maintain the current level of service. In the recession, sales tax revenues went way down. This is merely about getting those revenues back to the same levels as before. Sales tax is a really bad revenue source (it is regressive, for example). So moving it to a car fee makes huge sense for economic and social-justice reasons.
    .
    Vote YES on proposition 1.

    Comment by Moose2 — 9:51 pm April 8, 2014 #

  37. How about we allow drink responsible ads on the buses? Think of the $$$…could help….not everyone can use a bus to get to work or for their work so not sure I want to pay for it! It is a necessary service though and the fares are already pretty high. Gosh I remember 10 cents. Now up to $5? yikes! Let’s get our drink on? :)…..

    Comment by DrunkonAds — 4:26 pm April 9, 2014 #

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