[NOTE: To be clear, the figures are from Kevin Desmond, the analysis is mine.]
As Adam linked to yesterday, an “emergency” transit funding bill, SB 5457, survived the Senate Transportation Committee, which had been the chief obstacle to previous transit bills. PubliCola has a lot more on the bill’s prospects and how it might change before becoming law. I had a brief chat with Metro GM Kevin Desmond about the short and long term implications of the Senate bill.
Although the long-term deficit is wider, the 2012-2013 shortfall has long been reported as about 400,000 service hours, or about $40m annually. That’s around a tenth of total service. Metro projects that concessions by the ATU and other unions late last year will save $9m this year, $13m in 2012, $14m in 2013, and $20m by 2015. A $20 license fee generates about $26m $28m a year. Assuming the bill passes and the County Council acts, that means that Metro will not face immediate pressure to cut service before 2014, unless fuel prices increase steeply or Congress does something bad.
Afterwards, the funding gap widens further to $60m annually, just as the new revenue authority would expire. The payroll savings cut that to $40m, but that’s still a large cut. It also implies non-delivery of 360,000 hours of non-RapidRide, non-service partnership bus service that was promised in Transit Now but deferred due to the crisis.
As Erica Barnett points out, Community Transit, Jefferson Transit*, and Sound Transit are the other agencies that don’t have any other taxing authority to solve their problems. The House version helps CT out but the Senate bill does not. Still, this bill is likely to delay disaster in King County for two years, which gives everyone time to build a stronger legislative coalition to support bus service.
* Jefferson just increased to the limit to solve their problems, so they shouldn’t need to go back to the well.