by Carl, 06/30/2011, 5:51 PM

There are basically 2 ways to make Metro fiscally sound: (1) eliminate most service south of Renton and East of Lake Sammamish or (2) find another source of revenue (fares, taxes, taking the money away from something else the county does or some combination, but fares have already gone up and other services are hurting too). Or if you’re The Seattle Times, whine about driver pay and don’t offer any real solutions.

Two problems are special to Metro. One is bus-driver pay. It can be defended by pointing to the 2010 contract, which has minimal raises. But under the previous contracts, between 2000 and 2009, bus-driver pay rose 38.5 percent, to the third-highest figure of any big-city bus operation in the country.

Metro now feels the consequences of the contracts it has signed.

Like 90% of bus drivers are helpful and good natured. They put up with drunks, abrasive assholes, and all sorts of shit while navigating often narrow streets in and out of traffic. They are professionals. So, doy, don’t pay them anything. Also, I’m a little confused. Was bus driver pay the 3rd highest after 2009 or is it the third highest now, after concessions? The writing wasn’t clear, but I think they mean the first. The Seattle Times doesn’t say what we should pay bus drivers, nor do they calculate how many more routes we could save with cuts to bus drivers’ pay (assuming we don’t have more accidents, etc. with poorly paid drivers).

Another problem is that Metro tried to serve the whole county. The agency is going back to setting routes based more on demand, and that is good. Run buses where people want to ride them. But it is too late to avoid this deficit.

It is true that it is more costly (as I hint at in the opening), but I’m not sure it’s a “problem” as the editorial says. I think 40-40-20 is horrible policy, and am fine focusing on routes that serve the most people. Still, I don’t think we should abandon the whole areas of the county that aren’t dense enough to make back much at the fare box.

Anyway, then The Seattle Times goes from wrong to wroooooong.

The problem is that the five lattes are on top of all the other lattes, mochas and Frappuccinos people already buy for their government. Taxes go up in bad years because times are bad and good years because we can afford it.

Aah the implication that no taxes have ever gone down. Good work, people who hate facts.

There has to be a stopping point. Given the economic pain, the public opposition and the unbelievable claim that the $20 tax is for two years only, this is a good time to say no.

FYI, I skipped it but their only evidence for public opposition is that they get more letters opposing it than pro. No polling data. No focus groups. Letters to one newspaper is how you judge all public support. They aren’t calling for an election.

And it’s not like they’ve supported other tax hikes and are reluctantly opposing this. They’re opposed to any tax hike no matter how reasonable. Really, the line in the sand for The Seattle Times isn’t Metro funding. It’s public education, K-12 and higher ed. And it’s public safety. It’s all of the things the state, county, and cities do that have been reduced since the recession hit.

8 Responses to “The Line in the Sand”

1. Roger Rabbit spews:

What do you expect, Carl? The Seattle Times is run by a Republican; and Republicans think all the world’s problems can be solved by (a) not paying workers anything, and (b) letting rich people (e.g. themselves) live in our society tax-free.

2. Roger Rabbit spews:

Roger Rabbit Quiz

Who is more deserving of a lifestyle that includes a waterfront mansion and a Porsche?

[ ] 1. A helpful and good natured bus driver who puts up with drunks, abrasive assholes, and all sorts of shit while navigating often narrow streets in and out of traffic.

[ ] 2. A CEO who runs a business that’s losing money for its shareholders (see, e.g., a certain big-city newspaper whose name we won’t mention).

3. MikeBoyScout spews:

Another problem is that Metro tried to serve the whole county.

Absolutely! Service is always a bad idea. King County Metro should only serve those areas deemed worthy by the Seattle Fishwrapper Editorial Board.

After all, who would know better about the advantages to the bottom line of reducing service than the Frank A. Blethen hobbyhorse team?

And why the f**k pay drivers or any employee much of anything? Heck, back in the good ‘ole days the Times could hire children to deliver its product and paid ‘em piece meal. Give the drivers a quarter for every fare collected!

After all, being stuck in traffic jams is an ideal time to read all the news in your one and only local paper.

And if you don’t like the Fishwrapper’s editorials with scant evidence, I suggest you heed the advice of the Seattle Fishwrapper Editorial Board: We all have to get used to it.

4. Michael spews:

The rural Ghost Buses* never made much sense. From what I remember were put in place only because when they set up bus service they thought since everyone was paying everyone should have a bus that wandered past their home, never mind if it was actually practical to ride the things.

Express buses, on the other hand, are the bomb. Express buses not only get you where you need to go quickly and cheaply they promote living in walkable communities. If everyone lived in a walkable community we’d save money on the various taxes we pay, so walkable communities are something our righty friends should join us in supporting.

I deal with Pierce County Shuttle drivers at work and the vast majority of them are great.

*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ghost_ships

5. Americafirst spews:

Really, the line in the sand for The Seattle Times isn’t Metro funding. It’s public education, K-12 and higher ed. And it’s public safety. It’s all of the things the state, county, and cities do that have been reduced since the recession hit.
———————————–
Right, if we can’t even make it to number one in bus driver pay how can we ever have the best schools.

6. Michael spews:

Is there some reason Metro and Pierce Transit can’t be rolled into Sound Transit? It does seem like there’s some duplication of services going on.

7. ArtFart spews:

@4 “Rural”??? Surely you don’t mean those areas in the eastern part of the county where the hills are now covered with McMansions? Let gas go up another buck a gallon and let’s see how many of those folks start leaving their (or should I say their banks’) BMW’s at home and riding the bus to Bellevue or Seattle.

One compromise (which is probably the way it was once supposed to be) would be to indeed have Metro only go as far as Bellevue, Renton, Sea-Tac and Shoreline, and let the rest be Sound Transit’s problem. ST already charges higher fares, and their buses are better equipped for longer runs. There might be some possible exceptions, like the 372 that starts at the UW main campus and serves Cascadia/UW Bothell and the North Creek business park by way of 25th Ave. NE and Bothell Way.

8. Jason Osgood spews:

rabbit @ 2

I would amend option #1 to mention that civic servants such as bus drivers risk, and sometimes lose, their lives to protect ours.

Respect for bus drivers.