There were two press releases from the County Council about Executive Triplett’s Metro budget proposal:
- First, Julia Patterson, who was one backer of the “Council Plan” last week, criticized the Triplett plan for not doing enough to cut waste and therefore triggering more bus service cuts than necessary, as well as cutting too deeply into Metro’s operating reserve.
- Second, Councilmember and Executive Candidate Dow Constantine also criticized the plan for cutting too deeply, while otherwise stressing his common ground with Triplett.
The rhetoric about cutting waste is premature prior to the report on the September 1 audit. However, there are very real differences between the Triplett and Council plans, listed below the fold:
- The Triplett plan cuts about 9% of service, compared with 4-6% for the council. It is also much more specific in that it specifies that the cuts will applied more or less evenly over the system, implying a 62/21/17 North/South/East King split. These cuts, however, would be treated as suspensions, thus allowing them to be restored later without regard to 40/40/20.
- The Council plan, although specifics are unclear, seeks to raise fares by about $1.00 by 2013, rather than 50 cents.
- In a move that has seized most of the attention, the four Councilmembers behind the plan hope to either rescind the Ride Free Area or get a larger payment from Seattle to maintain it. The amount to be saved in this manner is the subject of much speculation and little in the way of empirical data.
Everyone is planning to cut waste and eliminate or scale back the ferry district; there will also be large cuts to Transit Now.
Constantine has not released a transportation plan, although he’s mentioned in several forums that he supports a combination of efficiency improvements, repurpose of ferry taxes, and about a 4% service cut.
Larry Phillips, who has released a plan, avoids any service cut by using more of Metro’s one-time reserve replacement surplus and promising unspecified revenue increases after the recession ends.
I’d expect the Council to really get down to business when the audit findings are released September 1st. If you have strong opinions on some aspects of the plans, make your feelings known to your representative before then.