Metro to the Mariners Once Again?

Safeco Field (Wikimedia)

Streetsblog Capitol Hill (the one in DC) has a piece on the new transportation spending bill – or one curious part of it.

Our Senator Patty Murray happens to be chair of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, and she’s inserted language in the bill that would roll back a rule we’ve written about before – a rule preventing public transit agencies from providing (subsidized) bus service to special events when a private charter can provide it.

Amusingly, it would only roll back the language for Washington State. This makes sense – she can provide us a benefit without having to negotiate with conservative Senators from other states who might not want this rule reversed. Cross your fingers – we could get our $3 bus to the Mariners back.

About Ben Schiendelman

Ben Schiendelman joined in 2007 to better consolidate news and information about our upcoming transit expansions, and to build a better base to further grow our system. He previously wrote the blog Higher Frequency, and worked on the 2008 Mass Transit Now campaign. Ben refuses to own a driver's license.




Comments

  1. While I’m amused by the state-specific language, it’s about time – as I understand it, Metro actually made money from the M’s and Seahawks shuttles, and at a time when every dime counts, this can’t come a minute too soon.

    • The fuzzy part of this argument is capital costs. The $3 one/way costs for the shuttle (no passes accepted, no transfers, etc…) covered operational costs for sure – even when paying OT to drivers (not all trips went out at OT, BTW). But before you can say Metro is “making money” on shuttle service, you need to account for the capital costs and maintenance costs of the buses.

      Even then, remember that the private shuttle providers also pay road taxes, license fees, and fuel taxes that Metro doesn’t pay, so it is subsidized service. I’m not saying that’s bad, it just explains one more reason that the private shuttle services are more expensive.

      This all makes me wonder: Do license fees that Starline and such pay include ST/RTA taxes? They are based in Seattle, but I have no idea how their license registration works. I also assume they pay sales tax on their coaches, but maybe not. (Ugh… Tax law…)

      • Chris Stefan says:

        The capital costs are there as is the overhead no matter if Metro runs a game shuttle or not. As long as we have the equipment why don’t we run the service. After all Starline has done such a wonderful job of filling the gap left by banning metro from providing special-event service.

      • Interesting facts…
        1) Starline pays $30,000 per coach in Sales Tax.
        2) Metro’s union contract disallows part time drivers from bidding on weekend special services, like sports shuttles. (That drives overtime up)
        3) 31.5% of fulltime Metro drivers made six figure incomes in 2007.
        4) Half the people reading this are rethinking their career choice. (who knew you could make that much driving a bus?!)

  2. She should probably clarify the process under which other states could join in, to counter the charge that it’s a pork-barrel benefit for her own state. If the issue really is conservative sentators’ opposition, there might be room for a “states’ choice” argument.

  3. But…but..but then how would those poor private bus companies ever be able to compete with the public buses that taxpayers already own and pay for? Congestion and public convenience be damned, hasn’t anyone ever though about THEM? /sarcasm

    Thank goodness those buses might be coming back. M’s game from Northgate P&R here I come!

  4. Warren on Beacon says:

    that same law has also prohibited MEHVA (the historical bus group) from operating charters who wanted to use a vintage bus (private companies don’t have that), thus we took a budget hit too.

  5. Warren on Beacon says:

    It should be noted that LINK has been used by sporting patrons too, and that is only $2.50/person (vs. $3.00) from TIB, but the old KCM special shuttles serves areas not served by LINK. Also, I heard that the Mariners help pay for some of the cost.

  6. I would point out that this is on Sen. Murray’s radar only because many of us have lobbied her or her staff about the issue…

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