Vanpools part of the solution to King County Metro’s troubles

June 24, 2013

Steve Marshall, member of the King County Regional Transit Task Force, wrote a great OPED in the Seattle Times highlighting King County Metro’s unsustainable operating costs and promoting vanpools as part of the solution. WPC has recommended increasing vanpool fleets, finding that, when compared to other fixed-route transit like buses or rail, vanpools are the cheapest and most cost-effective transit mode for connecting commuters with urban employment centers. Efficiency gains from automotive technology should be coupled with increasing vanpool fleets in an effort to move the most people at the least cost. 


Taxpayer funded transit for government workers

I looked into Pierce Transit's vanpool program thinking it could save some gas and bridge tolls commuting to Tacoma everyday. Of the 64 vanpool routes going into Tacoma 49 of them (76%) are for government. This is a conservative count- routes like Russell Investments & City of Tacoma weren't counted as government, even though Russell isn't in Tacoma anymore so it probably should be counted as government. Count partial routes and it jumps to 56 of 64, or 88%.

Are government employees just better at helping the environment and transportation? Haha.

In the private sector you have to work late sometimes. If the workload or customers demand you stay late you have to. If I have to stay late does the whole vanpool stay an hour waiting for me or do I have a 30 mile walk home? In government they close at a set time, regardless of how many customers have been waiting in line for hours or regardless of how long they are backlogged.

When was the last time the DOL stayed open an extra couple hours just because more customers kept showing up? Or how often to do salaried county workers work 60 hours per week to clear backlogs? Yeah.

Vanpools may be better than link light rail. But at least in Pierce County vanpools are mostly just the taxpayers paying the transportation costs for government workers.