TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Tuesday updates; bus-fare hearing

(More cameras, and other info, on the WSB Traffic page)
Holiday’s past, so most things are back to the usual baseline – except for Seattle Public Schools, which are out all week, so take that into account.

COUNTY COUNCIL HEARING ON METRO FARE CHANGES: At its 1:30 pm meeting today, the King County Council plans a hearing on the fare increase that is part of the proposed package to avoid transit cuts, in legislation that also creates a special low-income fare. From the KCC website:

The fare increase, which would be implemented in March 2015, would raise fares by 25 cents for all fare categories for Metro Transit bus service. It would also increase fares for Access paratransit service by 50 cents.

The legislation would also authorize the creation of a reduced fare program for transit riders. It would set the fare at $1.50 and establish the eligibility threshold at 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, currently $22,980 for an individual and $47,100 for a family of four.

If you can’t be there, you can send in your thoughts via this form.

8:27 AM: Comment and e-mail mention that the Highland Park Way hill is closed to traffic. 911 log has a notation about a fuel spill.

8:50 AM: Per scanner, Highland Park Way is now open again.

10:03 AM: We asked Seattle Fire about the “spill,” since they responded – Lt. Sue Stangl says, “It was a small trail of fuel up Highland Park Way that ended near a fresh pile of gravel.” So, a mystery spill so far.

20 Replies to "TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Tuesday updates; bus-fare hearing"

  • metrognome February 18, 2014 (6:42 am)

    interesting; that’s the first notification I’ve seen that Access fares are proposed to increase as well from $1.25 to $1.75 (I admit I haven’t followed every link in every story …)

  • pagefive February 18, 2014 (7:42 am)

    The train crossing in SODO between 1st Ave S and 4th Ave S has been down for 10-15 minutes now, with no sign of a train. Stuck on the 21 on Lander. Traffic is really backing up.

  • pagefive February 18, 2014 (7:58 am)

    Several buses going down 1st Ave S as alternate route. I see the 116, 37 & 50. Tracks still blocked.

  • mary February 18, 2014 (8:12 am)

    Is there still an anti crime meeting at the SW precinct tonight at 7pm ?

  • Scott February 18, 2014 (8:19 am)

    Traffic headed down the hill on Highland Park Drive is being diverted by two cops. Look for an alternate route down the hill

  • Seahawk Momma February 18, 2014 (9:22 am)

    Raise those bus fares to five dollars a ride if you need more money. Don’t penalize me for being a car owner. I work hard for my car.Why should I have to keep subsidizing you the bus riders?

    • WSB February 18, 2014 (9:48 am)

      As has been discussed in numerous other threads (and other sites), motor vehicle drivers’ use of the roads is “subsidized” far more expensively than transit riders’ use of buses. (Smaller percentage, higher dollar amount. Here’s one citation for starters.) And they’re actually doing car drivers a favor by reducing traffic; most transit users own cars, and those cars will be back in traffic slowing your commute further (look at one elbow-to-elbow RapidRide bus and think of everyone inside back in an individual car on the bridge). This isn’t an endorsement of Metro’s measure but just a debunking of the “drivers pay and bus riders don’t” myth, for anyone who’s missed it before. – TR

  • KT February 18, 2014 (10:37 am)

    I have not formed an opinion about the reduced fair program for people with less income. I do know that if Metro is in such dire financial conditions, how does it help to 1) delay the rate increase for a year and, 2) raise fares by .25 for some and reduce fares by at least $1 for others? What is the estimate of the % of riders who will qualify for reduced fares?

  • Ex-Westwood Resident February 18, 2014 (11:00 am)

    TR – I agree that roads are subsidized by Gov’t funds.
    The Headline from your link:
    UPDATED: Drivers Cover Just 51 Percent of U.S. Road Spending
    Are you trying to say that Metro, Sound Transit and Ferry riders are paying for 51% of their actual fares?
    Because that is simply NOT true. Fares that riders pay are approximately 10-20% of the ACTUAL cost.
    Perfect example is the LLR (Link Light rail), the ACTUAL cost for a ride is over $27.00 from the Airport to Downtown, yet the fare charged is ONLY $2.75, and to top it off, there is no policing to see if people are actually paying the fare.
    I don’t think that asking mass transit riders to pay at least 35-40% of the ACTUAL cost of the trip is a bad thing.
    Keep the fares low for low income riders, but there are PLENTY of people who could easily afford the fare increase to cover more of the actual cost.
    BTW – I am a former user of Metro, but because of a change of employment and hours, it is IMPOSSIBLE for me to use Transit. I start at 6:00 AM and in order to travel the <9 miles to work using Metro/Sound Transit/LLR I would have to leave the house at 4:30 AM, not even going to go into the details of the trip home at 4:00 PM

  • Twobottles February 18, 2014 (11:12 am)

    The point of subsidized mass transit is to get people to use it. Imagine how empty the light rail cars would be at $27 per ride.

    And even if you commute/travel exclusively by car, you still benefit from mass transit as it reduces traffic volume, making your trips faster and easier.

  • wetone February 18, 2014 (11:48 am)

    Subsidized roads has nothing to do with subsiding Metro two totally different issues. Buses will always serve a very small percentage of the population in this area do to it’s limited coverage, inconveniences, time…. Metro charges less than many large cities in this country and is down right cheap to ride daily compared to one that owns/drives, maintains, pays for parking and insures a car. The debunking doesn’t work for me and in fact I really don’t know anyone it does except our city/metro and people that ride metro daily. Bus fares should be double of what they are now and it would still be a deal compared to driving every day. Your right about many metro riders do own cars even though the city is allowing all this new building (1000’s of units) around here with little or no parking. Funny how the city says one thing for one study (people moving into new units don’t own cars) then turns around and says the opposite for another study (Metro riders own cars) :0

  • Diane February 18, 2014 (12:01 pm)

    one of the controversial things about the low income fare that is rarely discussed, partly because there’s not an easy answer re the fairness; is the fact that youth and seniors 65+ can qualify for a very low fare (even with the youth/senior fare going up, it will still be 50 cents less than the proposed low-income fare); we talked about this quite a bit in the “low-income fare” stakeholder meetings last year; what to do? with this current proposal, youth or 65+, no matter their level of income, they may live in a mansion and drive a Mercedes, but they only pay 75 cents now, will go up to $1; on the other hand, a low income person between the ages of 18 & 65 who must rely on the bus as their only means of transportation to jobs, medical appts, etc, will pay $1.50, which is helpful, but $3 round trip is still a financial challenge for working poor; and isn’t it true that youth & 65+ simply have to show their id to Metro to get a pass that allows them to pay 75 cents with cash or ORCA; while the new low-income fare will require #1) going through what I call the “prove I’m poor” paperwork, and #2) will only be allowed to pay low-come fare via an ORCA card
    personally, selfishly, I don’t want anything to change with the senior 65+ much lower fare, because I’m just a few years away from qualifying; but I also recognize the lack of equity/fairness, if a millionaire 66 yr old will only have to pay $1, while a low income 35 yr old will have to pay $1.50

  • JTB February 18, 2014 (12:13 pm)

    We’re missing something here concerning who benefits from mass transit. A good part of the use of public transportation involves getting employees and customers to businesses. So it seems appropriate for the owners of commercial properties to pay for part of the shortfall. A levy based on building capacity would be straightforward. Owners could pass on the cost to whatever extent they deem appropriate to building tenants who in turn could adjust charges to customers and clients as they choose. I suppose commercial property owners might assert they’re already hit with fees and levies of various types, some of which undoubtedly support mass transit. So are the rest of us, so shouldn’t everyone join in ?

  • Ex-Westwood Resident February 18, 2014 (12:39 pm)

    I’m not advocating the raising of any fares, be them bus, LLR, Ferry…etc., to cover the FULL, ACTUAL cost of the trip.
    All I am saying is to raise the fares to cover more, NOT even most, of the actual cost.
    I use the LLR EVERY time I go Downtown. Seeing that parking runs anywhere from $8.00 to $15.00 an hour, I would GLADLY pay $7.50, if not more, to get there.
    Offer discounted passes for those that use it EVERYDAY as their transit to work, much like the Ferry system does with the walk-on fare books.
    Same goes with busses.
    This has to be a MULTIPLE PRONGED approach, you can’t just talk about fares, but a TOTAL, INDEPENDENT AUDIT of Metro, Sound Transit and WSF.

  • metrognome February 18, 2014 (5:05 pm)

    well, this is the 4th time I’ve tried to post; first two were problems with my WiFi, third just disappeared (maybe the spam filter for too many URL’s?) … so here goes again …
    @wetone – According to the most recent APTA fact book, the average adult base fare for an ‘all bus system’, which is basically what Metro is, is $1.50 (based on a 2011 report.) Plus, there are all kinds of factors that have to be considered; simply looking at the amount of ‘per trip’ cash fares is like comparing kiwis to pineapples. As is adding the cost of parking to the cost of driving a car in comparison to using public transportation. There are lots of interesting reports on the APTA site, as well as links to federal transportation databases.
    . (click on ‘2013 Fact Book,’ p. 30 for aggregate fare info; more detailed fare info is probably available from the federal resources linked on the right.)
    Ex-WR – as has been previously mentioned in response to your comments, light rail is a Sound Transit service (or the city, in the case of the S Lake Union Streetcar); those entities, not Metro, make decisions regarding fares, etc. Metro’s fare income to operating expense ratio was 29 percent in 2012.
    And, transit agencies are routinely scrutinized by the Federal Transit Administration, particularly during the triennial review which happens, um let me see … every three years. The FTA triennial review web site pages are pretty easy to find. Also, Metro underwent a major performance audit in 2009. See p. 2, several entries in 2011 regarding follow-up on the audit:

    • WSB February 18, 2014 (6:14 pm)

      Sorry, Metro, I do see one version in the spam filter. I can’t even rescue things from there any more unless flagged (after you mentioned one I searched in there for your handle) – it accumulates a massive pile of real spam comments daily and once in a while there’s bycatch :(

  • G February 18, 2014 (8:58 pm)

    Bus fare in LA is $1.50. A steal, really.

    Bus service is something that I think we all can agree that is vital. I would rather pay extra to properly fund the bus system so that EVERYONE pays the same, very reasonable fare. I am so weary of dividing society into financial sectors, with special rules, and special exemptions, et al. There is something leveling about everyone, rich and poor paying the same fare, sitting next to each other, and taking a bus ride.

  • metrognome February 20, 2014 (10:42 am)

    TR – no problem; I’m trying to learn to draft comments in notepad or something in case of a wifi or other problem when there’s no ability to save as I go. My final post includes pretty much everything from earlier posts.

Sorry, comment time is over.