Last year, the Governor vetoed Transportation Benefit District authority for transit agencies. As she clearly really likes that line-item veto power, we’d like to ask her to do it again – to veto the “private provider” language in SB 6381, currently headed to her desk.

Wednesday morning, Rep. Marko Liias asked his colleagues to sign on to a letter to urge the governor to veto this provision. Essentially, it’s turning out that the provision would affect more grants than originally intended, would violate federal regulations, and could potentially apply to the downtown tunnel – in addition to other issues.

I think a lot of us have already called the Governor’s office (maybe more than once) to ask that she veto this portion of the bill. Thanks to Rep. Liias, there’s a new way we can help – call your Senators and Representatives in Olympia and ask them to sign on to Liias’ letter!

Additionally – Seattle legislators, I’m looking at you. Your constituents more than any others depend on transit facilities, and impacting those could be very damaging to those constituents’ ability to get to work.

21 Replies to “Once More, For Old Times’ Sake?”

  1. “could potentially apply to the downtown tunnel” Sweet. So I could, say, buy a van with one of those advertisement trailers and drive back and forth in the tunnel all day? What does the legislation say about stretch taco wagons or ice-cream trucks? Is there any maximum load-unload time, or would buses have to drive around me if the line is long? I can see it now: “Subway Burritos: We Take ORCA!”.

    (and most importantly: why do I find this idea endlessly entertaining?)

    1. MTE-
      Yes! We’ve ALWAYS needed a good taco truck at Westlake Station! And crepes, gyoza, salads and who knows what-all else at University Street and PioSq at mid-day on weekdays for the office workers – who needs Link and those silly busses?
      Time start the campaign to say “B’bye to Christine” in 2012.

    2. NO. Neither an ice-ceam truck nor an advertisement trailer is a transporation provider.

      A “private
      29 transportation provider” means an auto transportation company regulated
      30 under chapter 81.68 RCW; a passenger charter carrier regulated under
      31 chapter 81.70 RCW; a private nonprofit transportation provider
      32 regulated under chapter 81.66 RCW; or a private employer transportation
      33 service provider; and “private employer transportation service” means
      34 regularly scheduled, fixed-route transportation service

      Second the local authority has to approve it and there are regulations on the impact to public transit. Also the bill states that the cost of usage can be charged to and recovered from the private transportation provider. In other words, P&R lots could actually start to generate income and the bill requires that they be at less than 90% capacity for private providers to be eligible to use them.

      Since no one seems to be able to come up with a serious example of why this provision is so evil and in concept it’s a good idea I’m having a hard time understanding the opposition. I mean this is a potential source of transit revenue you’re asking the Governor to veto. Maybe actually reading the bill might be a worth while exercise.

      1. Is the issueing “shall issue” or “will issue?”

        Also 90% is pretty high. Most people feel a lot is ‘full’ at 90% so this has the potential to turn people away from P&Rs. A lower threshhold would be better.

        What is the process for kicking someone out if they violate terms of service or the lot fills up?

        Empty ‘private transit’ vehicles are allowed to use transit only/HOV lanes.

        I am not opposed to this idea in principle, but from what I have it is not well written and stands to create lots of headaches/backups/potential liability.

      2. Curse you lack of editing feature! That should read ‘May Issue’ or ‘Shall Issue.’

      3. 90% is the cut off where it’s not allowed. 1 space in ten empty doesn’t sound like it’s going to turn anyone away to me. As I read the bill the discretion is up to the local transit agency; there is no “shall issue” language. The transit agency also gets to decide what it’s costs are and accepted proposals kick in State grant money. Plus it appears they have the option to just plain ignore proposals.

        Sure a private company could challenge something in court but why? They’re in the business to make a profit and the pickings are pretty slim. I don’t see any private operator funding a legal battle against the government. Yes, I know Starline sued but that was a poorly written law. The intent was OK but the rule was bad. I’m not seeing the “loophole” here.

        What I think of as a public private partnership working is Greyhound operating out of the Mt Vernon transit and Amtrak Station. It seems like a win win. Public transit delivers customers. Greyhound pays rent and helps maintain a staffed presence at the station.

        This bill may not be perfect but I’m still waiting to hear a single creditable objection or, more to the point, language you’d use to improve it. It really seems there’s just a fear or prejudice against private enterprise.

      4. Bernie, transit agencies start considering a park and ride lot full at 70%, because that’s the percentage where a dropoff in use starts. People can’t choose how to commute if there’s some question as to whether they’ll get a parking place or not, so they have a low bar to “full”, based on risk.

        A credible objection? As Rep Liias pointed out on Wednesday, this would actually apply to the downtown tunnel.

      5. Rep Liias may have mentioned the DT tunnel but it’s not credible. The bill doesn’t open the door to taco vans or advertising trailers in the tunnel. What private carrier is (given they have to cover costs and meet all the other criteria which metro and ST would rule on) would apply under this pilot program to access the tunnel?

        Full at 70%?? That’s like 1/3 empty. Some of the eastside P&R lots are at 105% capacity. Personally I think the charge to park should target 90% capacity. It’s the over capacity lots that are free which are a problem. I just don’t see over building P&R lots by 30% as being a good idea.

        The fail safe in the bill is that the local transit agency can just ignore all proposals from private agencies and the only penalty is that they are then deemed ineligible for additional grants under this sub clause of the bill. In other words, if they don’t want to participate in this State redistribution of gas tax revenue they don’t have to. Essentially, don’t like it then ignore it and it’s status quo.

      6. Bernie, I feel like you haven’t really read the section.

        If a private transportation provider clearly
        16 demonstrates that the local jurisdiction failed to consider an
        17 application in good faith, the department may not award the
        18 jurisdiction any grant funding.

        You also can’t just handwave away the park and ride capacity issue. What lot, exactly, is at 105%?

      7. The way I read that section you quote is that the agency then isn’t eligible for grant funding from this pilot program. In other words, they can opt out. South Bellevue was one of the lots that was over 100% capacity. The metro reports have shown usage as high as 110%. As for lots that are reported at under 90% the transit agency can charge a private provider to use the lots and dip into the grant money. All the decision making is left to the local agency. It’s called a pilot program because it’s something new to try. If in 2011 it’s a bust then it goes away. If it’s useful then it can be refined and improved.

      8. Why don’t you show me some of these reports you’re showing! How are 10% more cars parked than spaces?

        And no, the language doesn’t say anything about grant funding from this pilot program. It says grant funding. Period. That’s part of the problem – it means all state grants to public transit, including rural service, paratransit, and other things they never intended to affect.

      9. Ben,

        Brickyard’s at 105% capacity. Metro’s P&R report is under the “reports” tab of their website. Basically, cars are double parked there and at other sites, I think about 10 in total.

      10. Where is there a park n ride at under 90% capacity?

        The latest data I can find on the Metro site is 4th quarter of 2008.

        Woodinville, capacity 438, 37% full. Houghton, capacity 470, 32%. Overlake capacity 203, 32%. Issaquah Highlands, capacity 1001, 76%. Issaquah TC, capacity 819, 60%. Kent/James St, capacity 713, 25%. South Federal Way, capacity 515, 74%. Twin Lakes, capacity 600, 22%. Redondo Hieghts, capacity 697, 7% (yes 7%).

        Those are some of the biggest losers. Of all permanent lots average capacity was 77%. South district 71% (9565 stalls), East district 76% (8703 stalls), North district is at 95% (3411 stalls).

      11. This is starting to become a lot of to-do over nothing really. At worst you might See Microsoft Connect expand some more, however with the new language, it does appear the property owning T/A can deny them access to core facilitys. Now if they want to serve some of these lots in the ‘burbs that dont see much use than by all means (and be sure to send your check to the T/A every month)! You are still fulfilling the publically acceptable goals of the agency, and not really providing much of a service other than parking capasity. I highly doubt every two bit airporter and charter/event service will start chomping at the bit to serve public facilities, and those that do probally already have agreements in place… As for commuter buses, i dont see too many other firms running their own bus, mabye Boeing….

  2. Gregoire make a stand for transit…. Yeah.

    Anyone looking for some oceanfront property in Arizona, I’ve got a GREAT deal for you!

  3. Ah, the power of well paid lobbyists influencing our elected officials.

    The original “let us make money with your HOV lanes” bill died, because it was a bad idea. So, our transit-hostile Senators Haugen and Marr just snuck the language back into the budget. A time honored trick.

    No one is safe until the Legislature is out of session. I hope our slightly-more-progressive Seattle delegation can change my cynical view some day.

    1. Here’s and idea, use that cynicism to campaign against Haugen and Marr next election.

      1. Say want you want about throwing my vote away, but considering how shit both parties have proved themselves to be, there is a certain satisfaction knowing you have only voted for 3rd Parties and/or written in Founding Fathers.

  4. The one thing Gov. Gregoire is doing right right now is sending the legislators home to stew while leadership works out the deals.

    Make an appointment with your senator and reps at their district office(s). Show them the language, including why this is not really a “pilot project” at all, and ask them to sign the Liias letter to do a partial veto of SB 6381 and keep public transit facilities everywhere from being opened up to private vehicles and clogged up.

    While you are there, get them to commit to co-sponsoring next year’s bill to allow funding for local transit agencies through annual vehicle fees.

Comments are closed.