Photo Ned Ahrens, King County Metro.
Photo Ned Ahrens, King County Metro.

A Martin mentioned last week, at 3:30 PM today King County Metro will host an open house on the extensive service cuts that could come if the legislature fails to provide a sustainable local revenue source for the agency; this will be followed by a public testimony to King County’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee from 4-8 PM. This may be your best chance in this legislative session to say your piece on how the cuts would affect you.

From the Metro Future Blog:

If sustainable transit funding does not become available through efforts by the Legislature, an estimated $75 million annual revenue shortfall could force Metro to reduce bus service beginning in fall 2014. Metro has identified 65 routes at risk for elimination and 86 routes at risk for service reductions.

The potential cuts would create a transit system with fewer travel options and longer travel times, with buses that are more crowded and less reliable. These effects could cascade through the system as bus routes are eliminated and riders compete for space on other already-crowded routes.

So far, Metro has been able to avoid these cuts through $798 million in reforms, reductions and additional revenue – such as the implementation of the congestion reduction charge, a temporary $20 charge on vehicle licenses for two years. The fee ends in 2014, and without new sources of revenue, Metro must reduce service.

Open house and public hearing Tuesday, May 14
Union Station, 401 S. Jackson St., Seattle

3:30 p.m. open house
4-8 p.m. public testimony
Can’t attend? Submit your testimony online.

44 Replies to “Open House and Public Comment on Potential Metro Cuts”

      1. Seconded. The National Transit Database no longer collects or distributes that information.

      2. http://www.thenewstribune.com/soundinfo/kingsalaries/?appSession=643256088966648&RecordID=&PageID=2&PrevPageID=2&cpipage=2&CPIsortType=asc&CPIorderby=a2011_OT_Pay

        ‘This database shows pay for King County government employees for 2011. Data was provided by King County, responding to a public records request from The News Tribune. It is scheduled to be updated annually.’

        Transit Operator DOT – Transportation $71,310 $38,820 $99,501
        Transit Operator DOT – Transportation $73,572 $38,796 $102,641
        Transit Operator DOT – Transportation $54,550 $38,314 $100,716
        Transit Operator DOT – Transportation $53,306 $38,281 $100,885
        Transit Operator DOT – Transportation $42,915 $37,799 $99,794

        While I glad that transit operators are paid living wages, can someone explain to me why some of the overtime pay (last column) is the starting salary for a lot of entry level jobs? I know that benefits goes beyond take home pay but why can’t they hire more people?

      3. Darn formatting. Overtime pay column is between netpay (ex. $71,310) and gross pay (ex. $ 99,501)

      4. Why would they hire more people, knowing that cuts are likely? It’s a lot less painful to cut overtime than to fire employees, especially in a union shop.

      5. Wallingford, there are three reasons Metro might pay lots of overtime:

        1) It’s cheaper than hiring, training, and providing benefits for lots of new operators;
        2) They are anticipating cuts and don’t want to be in the position of having to lay off a bunch of part-timers and have below-minimum amounts of work for full-timers; or
        3) They can’t find enough qualified candidates.

        Right now I think it’s a combination of 1) and 2). When I was driving, I picked up all the overtime I could eat, and the main reason was #3. During the second of my two years as a part-timer, I got enough overtime that I was averaging about 7 hours per day. During the second of my three years as a full-timer, I averaged about 60 hours per week. That was the same year when Metro canceled a planned service expansion for lack of drivers.

      6. Metro drivers rank third nationally in wages, with a top rate of $28.47 an hour, and the average yearly income, including overtime, is almost $61,000 a year, according to a Metro review that includes full- and part-time drivers.

        Meanwhile, bus drivers in Seattle trail only Boston and San Jose, while ranking just ahead of New York and San Francisco in top pay.

        Pay for a top-scale driver is nearly $60,000 a year before overtime. Last year, 255 drivers made more than $75,000, with 20 of those topping $100,000. Metro’s highest-paid driver made $115,716 in 2009.

        Source: Seattle Times

    1. Why is this important? Simple set theory, or basic alphabet, says that in a list something will always come first and something will always come last. If Metro (not Seattle; Metro Transit covers a wide swath of King County) drivers are paid 2nd best in a tightly-bunched list of agencies, what difference does that make? Being paid $1,000/year less than the #1 highest agency and $1,000/year more than the #3 highest agency is trivial.

      Oh, and you didn’t include a reference for that “statistic,” so I therefore conclude that you obviously are the second highest paid commenter in the nation.

      1. No. All Metro drivers are paid on the same scale. Pay increases with seniority for the first five or so years.

  1. Would it make you happy if Metro operators were the lowest paid in the nation? (Frederlicious) Where is your civic pride? You should be greatful that we have a robust public transportation that provides good service and good jobs instead of whining about it?! (also you can apply to work there if you want). King County Metro funding would not be near as bad off if it weren’t for the housing crisis which created the worse economic recession since the Great Depression. In light of that fact the County should be allowed local funding options to preserve current levels of service and put new service up for a vote. Why should state senators in Eastern and Southwestern WA. block local options for King County Metro and other transportation needs? If the republicans and anti tax types don’t like what the council does than they can campaign, run on the issues and get their folks elected.

      1. We are running a government. It provides basic infrastructure to the citizens for the benefit of the community. That costs money. Transit is part of the basic infrastructure of an urban area.

        And safely operated transit doesn’t use $12/hour drivers or mechanics. Compare the safety records of First Transit and Metro, and you’ll see why.

        (Incidentally, the latest data I could find had Metro ranking #4, not #2, and that was before the most recent couple years of no increases and health benefit cuts.)

      2. I think it has been done away with, but as recently as 2010, SF Muni had bargaining rules that their drivers were paid the average of the top two wages in the country. So they would have been #2 at that time.

      3. Metro drivers rank third nationally in wages, with a top rate of $28.47 an hour, and the average yearly income, including overtime, is almost $61,000 a year, according to a Metro review that includes full- and part-time drivers.

        Meanwhile, bus drivers in Seattle trail only Boston and San Jose, while ranking just ahead of New York and San Francisco in top pay.

        Pay for a top-scale driver is nearly $60,000 a year before overtime. Last year, 255 drivers made more than $75,000, with 20 of those topping $100,000. Metro’s highest-paid driver made $115,716 in 2009.

        Source: Seattle Times

      4. Data from 2009 is useless. Metro drivers have taken an effective pay cut since then.

        Also, I get completely sick of people trotting out the highest-paid driver without mentioning that that driver spent a shit-ton of time at work. If you worked a whole bunch of 65- and 70-hour weeks, you’d want to get paid too. White-collar salaried people who don’t get overtime often use the number of hours they have to work as justification for why their base salaries are so damn high.

  2. I’m not terribly enthused about the notion of lobbying for a pork-dominated highway bill in order to get the opportunity for the county council to put a local option MVET up to a public vote, and then still have 40% of it go to roads.

    I suppose I could urge passage of the whole bill, and then ask the governor to line-item veto everything except the MVET, but something tells me such a veto is not going to happen.

    Shouldn’t the state come up with the money for mitigation bus service during the rest of the car tunnel construction? Same with SR 520 construction.

    1. I’m inclined to agree. There are way too many poison pills in the House bill. I’d rather suffer next year with service cuts than sanction $8B in new highways. Whatever happened to Fix It First? What a joke. When even Doug “I Hate Amtrak” MacDonald says it’s a waste, you know it’s a bad bill. Too bad it’s the supposedly green Dems pushing for it. I’d rather try to get local funding next year, even if service cuts take effect for one shakeup or two. And I bet when the rubber meets the road that Metro could find some further efficiencies to whittle it down to 10-15% cuts.

    2. Do you guys honestly think we’ll ever get our local option by itself, without a lot of attached highway pork? I don’t. I think if you lobby against this bill, you’ll find yourself looking at the same bill next year, and the only difference will be that you cost a lot of people their bus service in the meantime.

      1. I don’t have a problem paying for highway maintance. We have a backlog we need to take care of ASAP before continued declines in driving and higher fleet milage depleats gas tax funding even further.

        I actually don’t have a problem with the size of the highway funding portion even in relation to its transit spending. I would support raising even more money to clear the backlog and possibly even get ahead of the curve on maintance. I have a problem with the majority of the money going to expansion. We don’t need new or bigger highways, and we won’t be able to afford to maintain them in the future.

        Just Say No.

      2. I would also say no. Once the recession fully recovers and sales tax revenues go up, service will go back to previous levels. I will not vote for taxes for more highway pork just to give us to right to maybe tax ourselves to fund more bus service.

        Sometimes, you just have to stick to your guns and say “no”.

  3. We’re between a rock and a hard place because we’re building an expensive cure-all in the form of light rail that is still a long ways from being truly useful and at the same time the existing system cannot be maintained.

    It is spilt milk now but my answer has always been we should have built the cheap at or above ground extensions to LINK first and then wasted years on making tunnels through Seattle.

    At some point does anyone here ever get called on the carpet?

    1. Running a train from Lynnwood to Northgate when we have dedicated bus lanes is the real waste of money

    2. So, we should have built Mt Baker to Rainier Beach, South Bellevue to South Main, Angle Lake to Fife, and Redmond to Overlake first?

  4. What is King County’s theory of how they expect this event to influence state legislators from outside of King County? It seems to me like organizing something in Olympia would be more effective.

    1. 1) Let’s be honest. The problem isn’t legislators from outside King County, it’s one specific King County legislator.

      2) Given the magnitude of the changes that will be required, it makes sense to get the planning going.

    2. “The problem isn’t legislators from outside King County, it’s one specific King County legislator.”

      Then, how about holding hearings in Redmond, Mercer Island, and Federal Way?

  5. As with many, MANY public type agencies in Washington, what Metro has is a spending problem, not a revenue problem. Somehow I doubt this “open house” is going to give much attention to that detail, though.

    Cut the routes if they aren’t willing to address the fact that they spend too much money per route and adjust salaries, benefits etc. accordingly to other cities of our size. We should not negotiate with terrorists just because they have hostages.

    1. Davin, your claims are entirely baseless, exposing your ideological bent rather than any shred of actual thought.

      Metro has a revenue problem because the legislature saddled them with a revenue problem by essentially implementing the unconstitutional I-1053.

    2. How much do they have to cut before you won’t claim they have a spending problem? I have a feeling your answer is “the entire system.”

      In recent years they have cut over 10% of the budget (adjusting for inflation and population growth) without cutting more than the barest amount of service. That’s had an impact on customers in terms of reliability (unrealistically short recover time) and service implementation (a backlog of projects to plan), but realistically it’s been a very effective improvement of efficiency. How much more do you expect?

      1. Suffer the cuts for a shakeup or two, then pass sustainable funding as a standalone bill in next year’s 60-day session? Is that possible? If so, that’s a preferable outcome to anyone for whom brand new highways are a line in the sand.

      2. Same thing we did with the RTID (Roads and Transit). Just Say No to this crap and wait for a better proposal (ST2) to come around the next year.

        The cuts will not start until fall of next year. It would be nice to have the funding secure this year, so Metro doesn’t waste a lot of man hours preparing for cuts that don’t come, but no one will lose any service if we have to wait until next session.

  6. Quit with the expletive aplenty hand-wringing.

    Just quit.

    You have a job to do.

    You are in a very hot LZ.

    You are taking enemy fire on multiple sides.

    Get your ORGANS into formation and start coordinating air support. Fixate on the biggest threat and resolve the problem.

    I will do what I can on my hand to get you gents some help from up North. But you need to quit the hand-wringing, just quit. Take what you can get, it was an acutely close-run thing to save the Tri-County Connectors and that was without one-tenth of this public whining.

    Thank you in advance. Lase me a target will you?

    1. Your blog commenting seems to be broken, so… here.

      1. I think King County would have to take a $100 car tab through the council and to the voters. So if you want to run for county council and get that through… good luck.

      2a. As literally the only person in the history of the world that’s ever yielded to a bus pulling out of a stop, good luck with enforcement.

      2b. If you haven’t noticed, SDOT and Metro are doing a lot of this (largely as part of the RapidRide program but also in smaller projects like the recent work on 45th and the upcoming work on Broad Street). The problem is that they encounter lots of resistance from nearby businesses over loss of parking and often water down their designs. So… what would you do differently?

      3. Sounds reasonable.

      4. So you’re running for county council again? In all seriousness, Metro is a big system that we rely on and it needs its new equipment to be a sure thing. I wouldn’t expect it to be on the leading edge of propulsion tech — it needs to be able to order in bulk from a company that will be around. As far as electric transit vehicles go, hybrid buses are a move in this direction (they don’t require charging infrastructure but they help develop and test battery technology, regenerative braking, etc.). I think Metro is evaluating trolleybuses with some battery backup capability for an upcoming order. And the First Hill Streetcar is going to operate on battery power in one direction. Given our favorable electricity generation situation in the PNW I have no problem with sustaining pressure on our transit agencies to get more electric, though I’m not sure they’re doing terribly at it now.

      1. That all said (even though I’m generally pretty skeptical of your campaign for mayor, and specifically your tendency to criticize politicians and agencies for doing things they lack either the power or the mandate to do, leading to a lack of confidence in your knowledge of how stuff actually works), thanks for generally being transparent and willing to talk about your ideas… particularly in a forum full of argumentative jerks…

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