I have been saying this for a while, but it looks like Metro is finally being honest that the increased bus service, called Rapid Ride, promised as part of the sales tax increase voters approved in 2006 may never arrive. From the DJC (behind paywall):
King County’s RapidRide express buses, which are due on the streets starting in 2010, may never materialize.
Even if the county’s transit division solves its current $83 million budget crisis, by 2010 it will need an extra $60 million per year to run the transit division and county officials do not know now where that additional money will come from.
“After 2010 we have a significant budget gap and we have to figure out a solution,” transit division manager Kevin Desmond told King County’s regional transportation committee last month. “A way to save money would be to reduce service.”
Right now, King County’s transit division is $83 million in the red. To help plug the gap, County Executive Ron Sims is proposing to raise Metro bus fares by 50 cents next February. Earlier this year, Metro raised bus fares 25 cents.
Sims also says Metro should increase bus advertising, cut $65 million in capital projects, sell or lease some land and use up its budget reserves.
High fuel prices and low sales tax revenues have played havoc with Metro’s budget.
The anti-light rail mantra is always that buses are cheaper than light rail. How can they honestly make this claim? Metro increased its share of the sales tax by 10% to .9% and is unable to increase service by the same amount because buses are becoming ever more expensive. The “buses are cheaper” argument is as bankrupt as Metro.
Sure the price of oil is down this month, but it’s still a whole lot higher than it was ten years ago, and it will be still higher in 10 years. Congestion continues to get worse, and with it, buses are ever more expensive to operate. If I-985 passes, HOV lanes will only be available for a short part of the day, and only about half of the dialy commute. With that BRT is impossible.
Light Rail doesn’t compete with cars in traffic. Light Rail doesn’t run on fossil fuels. Light Rail can carry far more people for far cheaper after it’s constructed. Light Rail really ought to be the future of public transit in our region.