What We Lost With Metro

I was recently reading Bus Chick’s year in review, and I was struck by this:

What’s a little kid-related bus inconvenience compared to no buses? Those of you who live in King County no doubt remember this summer’s terrifying, “we might have to cut 17% of your service” moment. The County Council passed the (temporary) congestion reduction charge, but the problem hasn’t gone away–for KC Metro, or for transit agencies across the state (CT and PT have already implemented drastic cuts) and the country. If the state doesn’t figure out a real solution to the transit revenue problem ASAP, those barely averted cuts will become a reality.

In the meantime, riders (including this one) are already feeling the pinch. Metro is closing stops, reducing hours, eliminating routes, and taking other steps to save money in anticipation of its bleak revenue future.

I agree and would add that the cost of riding is also up quite a bit. With fares up to $3.00 for 2 zones at peak times and with the upcoming elimination of the free ride area, the recession is really pushing the cost of riding onto riders and employers. Fortunately for me, my work pays for it, but that’s a cost to the company I work for is up.*

Last year could have been a lot worse for Metro. And while we celebrate that we avoided that, we should also realize what we’ve lost.

*I realize that the costs will still happen no matter if it’s society at large or individuals and employers paying for it. The point of this post is not really to make an argument one way or the other about what would be better or worse policy.


  1. 1

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    $6 a day is $30 a week is $1,500 a year. The cleaning lady or file clerk who commutes to work via Metro can’t deduct this on his/her taxes. But Donald Trump can deduct his private helicopter on his taxes, and CEOs and high-net-worth individuals can deduct their private jets on their taxes. Why?

    It isn’t just favorable tax rates that the uber-rich get. The real money is in the deductions they get that working stiffs don’t get. We badly need tax reform in this country, and I’m not talking about just the tax rates. We need to get rid of the special tax privileges the moneyed set enjoys by reason of having political clout the rest of us don’t have.

  2. 2

    Deathfrogg spews:

    @ RR

    But but but…. Thats socialism!

    Public transit is just another method the Soviets use to weaken our economy and contaminate our precious bodily fluids. I know this. I heard some homosexual atheists talking about how they use publically funded transportation systems such as Metro to recruit new followers of their agenda and to subvert Traditional American Family Values.

    Jesus never would have ridden a bus. He was too much of a capitalist.

  3. 3

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @2 I didn’t think my bodily fluids were “precious” when I needed a catheter to get rid of them.

  4. 4

    Deathfrogg spews:

    @ 3

    Well, as a capitalist, you should know damn well that a surplus only makes it more difficult to offload the product, especially when outside influences such as overconsumption of the raw feedstock cause the system to bog down. While I myself have never been catheterized (except involuntarily by Bank of America), I understand that overproduction of a relatively unpopular or already common product only leads to higher levels of retention, and that retention itself stoppers up the delivery apparatus. This requires the holesailors to maintain larger inventories.

    You just weren’t being faithful enough to the free market system.

  5. 5


    We no longer have the resources to have it all.
    Since we borrowed trillions for bush’s unfunded wars, we have to make choices. Do we want tax breaks for rich, do we want publicly funded schools, do we want public transportation, and so on.
    Now it’s time to make very hard choices, what is important to our society.

  6. 6


    I heard carlson yammer about the toll road the other day. That we need to pass a new initiative that limits the toll amount, ends the toll when paid for and forbids tolling on other road.
    Typical republican. The state cannot get funding through socialist general taxes so the state goes to a capitalistic Pay for use scheme and he’s trying to find a way to gut that too.
    They don’t want to pay for nothing that isn’t the military!
    Someone on the news said they wouldn’t be taking the toll road now that it was going to cost them $1700 a year.

  7. 7

    Deathfrogg spews:

    Shut down public transportation systems, and you will see the collapse of the economy. I hear so many people whine and bitch about traffic, and the cost of fuel, and the price of registering a car. My question to the free market cultists is: Since when is it up to the Government to subsidize ownership of a personal vehicle?

    Bitching about “socialism” and how it isn’t up to the Government to provide a means to get around within a city or a nation is not going to solve the problem. Deliberately breaking a system and then freaking out when it ceases to function is a very old capitalist method of manipulating public perceptions. The Interurban Railway is a prime example of that.

    Lets do it. Let’s shut down Metro and Amtrak, and stop providing nearly free fuel to the Airlines. Lets see what happens when those yuppie types living in those $600,000 condos downtown or in the suburbs cannot get to work, or the folks living in the suburbs cannot get downtown or even across the county line. It’s either that, or raise Metro rates to $10 per ride no matter what the distance.

    I know what real gridlock looks like, I lived in San Francisco for two years. I’ve seen Hwy 101 go to a total stop for three hours between Candlestick Park and San Jose because of a fire in a battery factory next to the freeway or someone zigged when they should have zagged. I sat in my un-airconditioned car for two hours once on the Golden Gate Bridge because a semi jackknifed in the Marin tunnel and wiped out 8 other cars in the process. If you only have to go ten miles to work, walking is not a possibility. Thats about a 3-1/2 or 4 hour hike for a healthy person.

    Shut it all down, and see what happens. Charge actual cost, and watch the fun. Chew on that, freemarketers.

  8. 8

    Christopher Stefan spews:

    It really frosts me how much conservatives who want to “run government like a business” and who push “market solutions” as a replacement for government and taxes are bitching about the 520 tolls in particular and congestion pricing in general.

    We have a huge road maintenance backlog in this state that the gas tax isn’t going to be enough to fund. There are three possible choices:
    1. Tolls
    2. Raise taxes
    3. Let the roads and bridges fall apart

    The conservatives have already made #2 a non-starter. They are trying to do the same to #1. This leaves choice #3 which means soon every highway and bridge can be like 35W in Minneapolis or the South Park bridge. In other words maintenance is deferred until things start to fail or are in imminent danger of failing.

  9. 9

    Deathfrogg spews:

    @ 8

    It’s called “disaster capitalism”. Manufacture a crisis, then create the avenue to revenue generation directed at the people who grease the right palms. All paid for by the general public with little or no risk whatsoever to the creators of the disaster. Socialism only applies to the people who can kick back enough to the authority in charge of making the decisions. Be a million dollar per picture movie star, and you can get Cartier diamond necklaces and Brooks Brothers suits for free. Be a rock star, and get all the free cocaine and booze you can stand. Be a large construction contractor, and you don’t even have to bid on a project, the people will hand over whatever cash you need to generate a revenue stream for your stockholders and maybe rebuild a road or a bridge in the process.

    It’s all corruption. It gives the plebes something to watch on TV and think they have influence on the system.

  10. 10

    Michael spews:

    We keep kicking the can down the road on the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge as well. According to my morning paper, it looks like we’re going to stretch out paying the damn thing off yet again.

    In addition, the state deferred payment of the sales tax on bridge construction. It must pay $5.75 million a year for 10 years starting in December.

    Sen. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, plans to introduce a bill when the legislative session begins next week to push off the start of that repayment.

  11. 11

    ArtFart spews:

    @3 Speaking of that…

    Microsoft’s private bus system has now taken over all but one bay at the Overlake Transit Center off of 520 at 40th Ave NE. There are two buildings with heated waiting rooms, free coffee and restrooms–reserved only for Microsoft and Metro employees. I spoke a couple weeks ago with another Metro rider who’s had colon surgery and found himself in somewhat unexpected urgent need to relieve himself, saw a Metro driver coming out of one of those facilities and asked–well, actually begged–to be allowed to go inside. The driver adamantly refused until a supervisor who happened to be nearby came over, told the passenger to go ahead, and read the driver the riot act.

  12. 12

    ArtFart spews:

    @10 So far, it appears the same thing’s going to happen with 520. DOT expected something like a 40% drop in traffic after the toll went into effect, and at this point it appears it’s more like 60% or greater. Here we’re approaching 3:00 o’clock on a Friday afternoon, and I’m looking out my office window at the sweep of the curve on 520 going past the south end of Bridle Trails–and at the moment I can see only about a dozen cars heading west. Half of those will likely exit to 405, and only the remainder are headed for the bridge.

    The bus I commute on (ST 542 between the U. District and Redmond) has been doing the speed limit this week during the rush hour without even using the HOV lanes. There are a few more passengers than there were a week ago, but usually everyone gets a seat.