Union and Metro officials muzzle Regional Transit Task Force

September 29, 2010 in Blog

Earlier this year, King County created a Regional Transit Task Force to make recommendations on how Metro can close its multimillion dollar budget gap. For those who are following their meetings, you will quickly discover its mostly an exercise in deciding what services to cut.

Bus union: give drivers more money and cut service to pay for it

September 8, 2010 in Blog

The Seattle Times covered our research on bus driver salaries today and it included comments from the leader of the bus union, which caught my eye:

Trading roads for bike lanes increases traffic congestion

August 30, 2010 in Blog

Seattle’s blind infatuation with Road Diets will make traffic congestion worse.

Seattle officials are quick to say Road Diets maintain the car carrying capacity on the roads in which they are applied. However, Seattle officials are much slower to admit that Road Diets also do not improve the car carrying capacity either.

This means Road Diets are essentially exchanging the future capacity needs of the roadway for other uses today; in this case, bicycle traffic.

Bus union is an obstacle to expanding bus service promised to voters

August 23, 2010 in Blog

Despite calls from union leaders that talks on a new labor contract should stay at the negotiating table, the bus union in King County held a press conference on Friday to discuss, what else but their new labor contract.

Seattle Weekly Coverage
Publicola Coverage 

Light rail costs $7.13 per trip and a quarter of the time it's late

August 20, 2010 in Blog

Sound Transit just released its 2nd Quarter Ridership Report for this year.

Light rail ridership is higher than the previous quarter but still far below projections:

Funding high-speed rail is a head scratcher

August 18, 2010 in Blog

Randal O'Toole, a senior fellow at CATO has written for WPC a number of times, including this piece on why Washington State should not invest in High Speed Rail.

Bus union defends higher pay instead of expanded service promised to voters

July 30, 2010 in Blog

In the August issue of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 587 newsletter, there is a lot of attention given to WPC and our recent reports on King County’s ability to deliver the bus service promised to voters after the last two sales tax increases.

Once you get past the partisan, inflammatory and personal attacks, union leaders aggressively defend the higher pay for bus drivers, which has risen about 60 percent since the tax increases. This is twice the rate of inflation over the same time period.

A driver's union leader says this:

“Bus Drivers [sic] wages have tracked King County inflation for twenty years, but little more. The working conditions inflicted on Drivers [sic] is so distasteful that METRO could not hire an adequate number of Driver [sic] in a good economy offering the wages and benefits that they did.”

I’m not sure these union leaders realize it, but in their haste to defend the higher wages, !
they precisely prove my point. The last two sales tax increases that Metro officials promised would deliver 1.28 million hours of new bus service have instead been used to increase wages for union bus drivers.

This is not a liberal or conservative issue. Nor is this a rant against how much money a bus driver makes. Metro drivers work hard and should be paid for it. This is simply about the ability of County officials to deliver the bus service they promised to voters after the last two sales tax increases.

Sound Transit officials missed their ridership target by a mile!

July 21, 2010 in Blog

During this one year anniversary of light rail, Sound Transit officials keep bragging about how they have carried six million riders since it opened. That is about 16,000 trips per day.

In 1996, Sound Transit officials promised voters the line would be complete by 2006 and carry about 107,000 trips per day. That means Sound Transit should be celebrating its four year anniversary, carrying over 100 million trips by today.

Sound Transit officials missed their ridership target by a mile!

Light Rail, One Year Later: A Train of Broken Promises

July 20, 2010 in Blog

As our first year with light rail comes to a close, Sound Transit P1100676_edited-2officials are certain to declare the 
experiment an unqualified success.
Yet, a closer look at the actual performance shows citizens are not
getting what they are paying for.

In 1996, Sound
Transit officials promised voters they would build 25 miles of light
rail for a total cost of about $1.8 billion, and they would be finished
by 2006. In fact, officials were so confident in their “conservative”
projections they called it, “Sound Move, The 10-Year Regional Transit System Plan.”

years later, Sound Transit officials have reduced the planned line to
21 miles, and have only delivered about 17 miles for about $2.6
billion. The rest will not be finished until around 2020 for a total
cost approaching $15 billion. In other words, Phase 1 is smaller,
billions over budget and more than a dozen years late compared to what
officials originally promised voters.

Here are
some other promises from 1996 that Sound Transit officials have failed
to deliver (quotes are from the Sound Move plan adopted in May 1996 and
passed by voters in November 1996):

Metro fails to deliver bus service despite collecting enough money from taxpayers; driver salaries rise 60%

July 15, 2010 in Blog

WPC just released two new studies that looks into the performance of King County Metro to deliver on its promises from the last two sales tax increases.

In 2000 and 2006, Metro promised 1.28 million hours of new bus service in exchange for higher sales taxes.

Voters agreed and sales taxes in King County rose 0.3 percent.

Today, Metro has only delivered about a third of that new service. And despite Metro's excuse that the economy is to blame, the County did collect more than enough revenue to provide all of the service from at least the first tax increase.

While taxpayers and transit users have not received what they were promised, one group has benefited from the two tax increases, public bus drivers. Bus driver salaries have increased about 60 percent, which is twice the rate of inflation over the same time period. 

King 5 covered our findings and you can watch their report here:

The full Washington Policy Center reports are available here:

King County Officials Over-Promise Bus Service for Tax Increases

King County Metro Bus Driver Wages Grow Out of Control

Gas tax revenues still falling

July 7, 2010 in Blog

June Revenue Forecast for the Transportation budget.

Fuel tax collections for the Nickel and TPA projects are down about $140 million (over 16 year construction horizon) just in the last four months. 

Consider state officials first estimated both programs would bring in about $1.052 billion in the 2009-11 biennium. In reality, officials now project about $917 million in the 2009-11 biennium, about 13 percent less.