The Prop. 1 package has suffered its first casualty as a result of the recession. Thanks to lower sales tax collections, and a three-month delay in implementing the tax in the first place, there will not be 100,000 new service hours in 2009; instead, there will be 24,000 this year with the rest phased in by February 2011. If you prefer to phrase it another way, there will be 48,000 additional service hours after the tax has been in effect for one year.
On May 26, the Sound Transit board chose this staff option over an alternative that took until September 2011. The difference in the slower plan was that ST would have delayed a September 2009 service increase. A massive February 2010 service change occurred in either plan, but follow-on improvements would have slid back about 6 months.
A clear yet exhaustive comparison of the current plan and the rejected one is here (pdf). An even more detailed staff report (pdf) is available as well. The deferred plan was estimated to save about $10m.
UPDATE (2 Jun): The various Sound Transit 2 plan documents are careful to say “Express Bus improvements beginning in 2009.” (emphasis mine). The YES statement, in the King County Voter’s Pamphlet, suggests “100,000 hours of additional service in 2009.” It may very well be that completion in 2009 was never feasible and it’s simply an error by the authors of the YES statement.
ST also released its quarterly ridership report (pdf) last week. Ridership rose in spite of the economy. Although that’s partially due to increased service, bus boardings per revenue hour increased. Although ridership is up, the productivity metrics for Sounder actually deteriorated because of sparsely utilized reverse-peak trips. These cost virtually nothing to provide, because the train has to get back to Tacoma to do another run anyway.
I’m not really sure why ST doesn’t also track productivity per operating hour as well as revenue hour, since that would correct these kind of metric-related problems.