Please save Metro

Do we want to save Metro Transit service, or allow a 17% reduction?

It’s amazing that it’s even a question. This city — riders, car commuters, our economy, sustainability — relies on transit. Yes there’s a cost, $20 per year per vehicle, but bus riders subsidize everyone. Of course we should save Metro.

How do bus riders subsidize everyone? By letting us avoid the astronomical cost of new highway capacity, and reducing traffic so drivers get places faster. By not requiring parking, which when “free” is paid for by all, not just by drivers. By letting businesses congregate in urban districts in ways that wouldn’t function if a larger percentage of people drove, particularly in central Seattle, Downtown Bellevue, etc., where transit usage is heavy. By giving low-wage workers a way to get to work, avoiding a host of social problems and their costs, starting with unemployment, and by giving higher-wage workers a way to live more sustainably.

Even for those able to drive instead of riding Metro, a reduction would generally require them to spend a larger percentage of their incomes on transportation. Much of this would come from discretionary spending, savings, and/or debt, all of which would weigh down the regional economy.

Even people who still ride metro, a reduction might mean longer commute times, with all the disruption that can entail.

Basically, a cut would be the anti-stimulus. For want of $20, an almost imperceptible change in our tax load, we’d hit this city and most of our residents with a flurry of sucker punches.

For those who think oil prices will keep rising, the stakes get even higher. Cities that have decent transit will weather high gas prices much better than cities that don’t.

I hope the County Council will pass the measure with a vote of six. That would save a lot of uncertainty and the cost of a ballot measure. With five from the Council, at least the public would get to vote. The measure would have a good chance — this is a patriotic metro, willing to pay for things that benefit the region and all of us.

Council, please lead!

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13 Responses to Please save Metro

  1. Larry says:

    Let ’em walk or learn to ride a bike. I’m tired of paying, and paying, and paying for others to ride a bus!

  2. Bob says:

    I find it facinating that bus riders subsidize everyone. I thought the price of the bus ticket did not even begin to reflect the actual cost of a bus trip. There is the cost and maintenance of the the equipment. Employee salaries and benefits and the cost of fuel. I don’t have the actual cost per trip but an Access rider pays $3 but the cost to Metro is $38. this from their website. I see brand new hybrid-Electric buses which cost how much and most of the time 15 to 20 people on an articulated bus. Give me a break. I too am tired of paying and it seems like in the biggest recession we have been in for years, all governments are doing is asking for more and more for their mis-mangement. This is upside down.

  3. Cory says:

    Taxpayers that live outside the City of Seattle are tired of paying for a service that we can’t use.
    If I want to use the bus to get to work I have to walk a half mile transfer to another bus and it would take 45 to 75 minutes when the drive is 10 minutes.
    Let the City of Seattle residents absorb the new costs to a higher percentage than the rest of the residents of the county. Metro says there are more riders in the city than outside the city limits of Seattle but could that be because there is no bus service for us?
    For that reason they should increase the car tabs only in the City of Seattle and leave the rest of us of the list.
    We are already paying for Sound Transit when we have no service out here. Why would we want to pay more.

  4. PHIL says:

    Raise the fare for the bus riders and charge for a bicyle license. Every where else they pay the actual cost for a service. If they save money and keep their car at home then let them pay more money. The bike riders pay nothing and all the special service they get should be charged for…..

  5. Driver says:

    I ride the bus. I see way to many people get on the bus without paying or not the correct fare. The drivers do nothing and the union supports that. If everyone would pay the correct farwe during peak hours, it would not be in that bad of shape. DO NOT RAISE the car tabs to pay for something that is not properly managed. Get the bus drivers to at least try and collect fares as they leave or get on the bus.

  6. Evan says:

    Why not start charing people for all the free curbside parking in wallingford? My street alone could pay for the buses in about a week. That just might encourage people to get rid of their second, or third cars and walk the block to catch the bus.

  7. Matt the Engineer says:

    People get really crazy about this issue. I think it boils down people not wanting to pay tax, which is understandable but short-sighted.

    [Larry] I’m tired of paying and paying and paying for freeways I don’t use. Some people are tired of paying for schools they don’t use. Luckily most of us have a bit more of a broad view and realize that these things help us indirectly.

    [Bob] It’s true that the cost of a bus ticket doesn’t cover the costs of riding the bus. This is intentional. If we had high fares than few would ride, our freeways and roads would be clogged, and it would be devistating for our economy. Regarding “10 or 15 people” on a bus – come down to 3rd and Pine at commute hour and see if you can find any bus that’s not standing-room-only. It’s true that there are suburban buses that don’t have good ridership, but the decision was made to run these buses to build ridership and to be fair to the suburbs since they pay for service as well (it’s called 20/40/40 – only 20% of new service was given to Seattle and 80% to the suburbs). Remember that even those 10 or 15 people represent 10 or 15 cars not in your way.

    [Cory] Of course suburbanites can take the bus. [Bob]’s comment comes from the fact that they don’t take the bus as much as they could. You have a 10 minute drive to work? Great. I know several that would have an hour drive to work, but the bus cuts that in half. Take their bus away and I’ll bet even your 10 minute drive will become longer. Regarding Seattle, our farebox recovery is very high compared to the suburbs. The most cost-effective approach would be to reduce service only in the suburbs. But then you’re stuck in traffic. I’m happy to chip in $20 to make your commute easier (it doesn’t effect mine – I generally bike, and my bus isn’t on the chopping block), or more generally to make life easier for commuters in our region.

    [PHIL] “Every where else they pay the actual cost for a service.” This doesn’t even make sense. Is the cost of war figured into your price of gas, or am I subsidizing that for you? I pay for your freeways and roads and don’t use them. I also pay for my own roads (maintenance for city streets comes from sources like sales tax and real estate tax).

    [Driver] How do you propose bus drivers stop people from getting on or off? Should we arm them?

  8. Anon says:

    Raise the bus fare. Want to ride the bus, then pay for it. And yes, I pay for other public services I don’t use. But Metro’s costs are astoundingly high for a public service that benefits the minority.

    Our streets and roads are alredy clogged. Raising the fee $20 isn’t going to get me out of my car. And it isn’t going to help my commute, whether they increase or decrease service. Just check out how much WSDOT has spent “improving” 405 for years and nothing has changed my commute time.

    Arm drivers? A little extreme don’t you think? But if you believe that is the solution, I’m all for it.

  9. Matt the Engineer says:

    [Anon] You want bus riders to pay more, but complain that roads are clogged. We’re already at a price point that’s approaching the cost of parking for some commuters – raise the price and they drive. Then you’ll see clogged roads.

    “Metro’s costs are astoundingly high for a public service that benefits the minority.” 1. They benefit everyone. 2. Compared to what? How high is the cost of the tunnel? Does that benefit everyone or just the minority? How about ferries? Should we cut those too?

  10. Nic Chavez says:

    Let METRO employees take a pay cut or maybe start paying their medical insurance like the rest of us.

    I don’t want to pay for as service I don’t use.

    We as taxpayers help and pay for all services, roads, schools and now METRO, come on.

    It’s time that they help them selfs and not have the tax payers bail them out over and over.

  11. Matt the Engineer says:

    No kidding. And the fire department. What did they ever do for me? My house hasn’t caught fire once in over a hundred years. It’s time they pay for themselves.

    (rolls eyes) It’s just $20 to keep people in our region moving.

  12. Nic Chavez says:

    $20 today and $200 the year after and so on.
    Roll your eyes if you want but I can’t keep paying for everything.
    Gas tax, property tax, candy tax, sales tax @ 9.5%

    I voted against Safeco Field and there it is!
    Now they want to keep that tax for the arts? Come on, tax the rich and leave middle class alone.

    Maybe if Seattle schools tracked their money better then wouldn’t need to ask for a new tax!

  13. Matt the Engineer says:

    Keep in mind that we don’t have an income tax in this state, so unless the rich buy more candy than the rest of us there’s no way to implement that.

    Of course San Francisco has an 8.5% sales tax and a heafty income tax, but then they have nice roads and a functional school system. In the end, you get what you pay for.

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