Image from bill98117 in the STB flickr pool
Here’s Mike Lindblom of the Seattle Times writing about the budget troubles Metro Transit is facing. It’s the same story recently we’ve been hearing recent, more people are riding the bus because of higher gas prices, but at the same time costs have gone up for transit agencies due to the same rising fuel prices.
Sort of luckily for us, King County Exec Ron Sims has promised not to cut service, but unfortunately, that means we might see either new Transit Now service not materializing or a fare increase.
Service increases scheduled for September are not at risk, said Kevin Desmond, Metro’s general manager. But the extent of future service improvements funded by the Transit Now sales tax could be in question. The plan, approved by voters in 2006, calls for bus rapid-transit service every 10 minutes at peak hours to five corridors: Pacific Highway South, West Seattle, Ballard, Aurora and Overlake, to begin in the 2010s.
A guess canceling a planned service increase is not the same thing as cutting service, but it’s too bad either way.
The article mentions how the other agencies are going to deal with the budget problems.
Closer to home, Kitsap Transit has announced a 25-cent fare increase starting in August, along with cuts to routes that carry fewer than 10 people per hour, and a trim of four administrative jobs. That should cover fuel spikes through 2009, said director Dick Hayes. But he thinks fuel will continue to get more expensive. “The decisions get much harder from here.”
Snohomish County’s Community Transit has made no proposals to change service or fares. The agency will launch its Swift bus rapid-transit line on Highway 99 next year, and still is seeking bids this year for new double-decker commuter buses, spokesman Tom Pearce said.
Sound Transit can cover its fuel gap with reserve funds this year and hasn’t planned for 2009 yet. The spike affects not only its express buses, but the diesel-powered Sounder commuter trains, which carry 28 percent more riders than last year, mainly on its south-end line. “We’re not talking about fare increases or service cuts at this time,” said spokeswoman Linda Robson.
One winner is Pierce Transit, whose fleet runs on compressed natural gas, equivalent to $1.21 per gallon.
Go Pierce Transit!
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