Image via Tacoma Tomorrow (click to enlarge)

Evan Siroky at Tacoma Tomorrow has a detailed report on Pierce Transit’s long range budget situation, and it isn’t good.  PT’s reserves run out in 2012, at which point the bottom falls out.

Using current revenue sources, annual service hours will fall by 57% – from 622,000 to 265,000, as the number of bus routes plunges from 51 to 23.  The end of service would move from midnight to 9pm on weekdays, and from 10pm to 8 or 9pm on weekends.  Weekend headways would increase to 60 minutes.

As the map above indicates, there would also be a substantial reduction in the areas PT serves. Unlike in King County, the PT district is not equivalent with the County.  These unserved areas would still be paying taxes to support PT; should the lack of service persist, they would likely pursue the time-consuming and complex “deannexation” process.

PT also provides 33% of service from Tacoma to Olympia, and that would end.

Metro and Community Transit faced potential 20% cuts when their sales tax collapsed.  Spokesman Lars Erickson explains that PT’s would be much deeper because “Pierce county experienced the recession earlier and deeper.”  The long term deficit is about $50m/year.  PTCT saved about $72m through 2012 through staff cuts, fare increases, and deferral of most capital expenses.

The good news is that Pierce Transit assesses a 0.6% sales tax, so they have a further 0.3% they can access with a public vote even if the legislature never comes to the rescue.  The chart below the jump pitches what could be done with that money: a gradual increase to 638,000 hours, including a fourth major trunk route.  The Pierce Transit board is likely to decide on a course of action this summer.

See also the TNT on this subject.

courtesy Tacoma Tomorrow (click to enlarge)

5 Replies to “Pierce Transit in the Worst Shape of All”

  1. Wow, today is all about Tacoma on STB. Thanks for the exposure for the South Sound.

    If we can’t get additional funding, looks like we stand to lose 50% of our service. That would be catastrophic. With service that limited, many people won’t be willing or able to use the bus service on a regular basis.

    If we get the new funding, the PT plans seem to be heading in the right direction. De-emphasizing the 10th and Commerce bus hub, increasing the Tacoma Dome Staion importance, and an express route to the Tacoma Mall are all great ideas. It currently takes about 30 minutes to go from Downtown Tacoma to the Mall, even though it is only a few miles away. A more direct route would be a good thing.

  2. I’m not sure how Metro or CT budget, but PT has been budgeting for 6% annual increases in sales tax revenue to maintain existing service.

    Is this a normal budget assumption in other jurisdictions?

  3. Pierce Transit’s biggest hurdle in solving its fiscal problem won’t be the voters of the PTBA, it will be the Pierce County representatives on its Board of Directors. Pierce County officials are trying to work up the courage to ask voters to raise the sales tax for their own interests and they don’t want PT getting to the voters first. This is shameful behavior but pretty typical for a county government that has relied on sprawl for revenue growth as much as Pierce County has.

  4. Thats if the state dosent raise the sales tax first. The state may sink the whole works by raising the general sales tax, than nixing the $20/tabs option which im personally not too much in favor of.

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