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Author photo from recent Island Transit Board Meeting

Below is my written public comment for the 13 April 2015 Island Transit Special Meeting.  I have a $!%&@*^ last minute schedule conflict, so here goes.

As I cannot attend the Island Transit Board Special Meeting for 13 April due to a family situation, this is my public comment.  Please accept and share.

First, I strongly support a fare on Island Transit’s connector routes.  The message is transit users will pay up front for the transit services we use instead of just rely on sales tax subsides.  That only makes sense.  Furthermore, charging fares cause the Island Transit governance triad (board, director & director’s staff and upcoming driver’s union) to realize they have a financial stake in being responsive to riders and letting riders give input before decisions are made as riders’ fares replace grant dollars.

Second, I support with reservations Proposal 1 that was drawn up 23 March.  Proposal 1’s last transit runs should start Northbound at 6 PM and Southbound at 6:30 PM so as to help commuters.  It is very clear to me that as Republicans are on the rise in the state legislature and wish to focus on “congestion relief” we focus the County Connectors on serving commuters.  We need to realize we will likely be asking for further state financial aid and as such by being on-message with their goal of “congestion relief” we can work collaboratively to accomplish the same goal.  Furthermore by showing transit can result in effective congestion relief and helping keep disabled persons off of the dole, we align Island Transit with traditional small-c conservative causes making it more palatable to support Island Transit, Version 2.0.

Third, I did a bit of mathematics Sunday night in my consternation both at my absence and at Proposal 1’s too early final runs.  With Representative Hayes’ $1 million for the biennium and if Skagit Transit was willing to participate alongside us, we could buy back each year not three runs each way at a combined annual cost of $143,547.46 as per Proposal 1 per service day but theoretically a bit over ten (10) with $500,000 per year.

So I propose Northbound shuttles at 5:35, 6:35, 7:35, 9:35, 4:00, 5:00, 6:00 & 7:00.  Southbound shuttles can start at 5:55, 6:45, 7:55, 9:55, 3:30, 4:30, 5:30 & 6:30.  Notice each shuttle is only 8 not 10.  I did that so there was some money left over to install fareboxes and as a strategic reserve if there’s a drop-off in ridership, or if I’ve oversimplified the situation.

Special thanks to Representative Dave Hayes for stepping up.  Just as I hope the first P-8A Poseidon to NAS Whidbey Island is named the USS Jim Slowik after his work on the P-8A basing, I hope when these buses for these shuttles are named – they’re named the Scott Dudley Express and the Dave Hayes Express.

3 Replies to “North by Northwest View 14: Public Comment for Island Transit’s 13 April 2015 Meeting”

  1. So there is a reason Island has been fare-free all these years…

    Farebox Recovery VS Collection Costs

    Farebox recovery would be MAYBE 10% of operational costs. Then you have to consider the capital costs of fareboxes, collection equipment. The labor costs of a bonded CPA as a full-time employee to supervise any vault extraction and to directly count, validate, and certify funds. Anybody who has access to the farebox vaults will be required to have a surety bond. The FTA requires an auditor regularly check the books on fares collected.

    Then, the fare media… Unless you’re going on a strictly pay-as-you-ride basis with no prepaid fares (passes tickets etc.) you will need to have contracts with companies who manufacture fare media. Then you will also need contracts with sales outlets.

    Did I mention, Island Transit does not qualify for formula funds. Any money they get from the Federal Government is through earmarks (which aren’t allowed at present by congressional rule) or competitive grants, which Island is not going to be eligible for for quite some time due to their malfeasance.

    So Island will have to use their own scarce funds to buy all of the fare collection infrastructure required.

    1. Brian;

      Good points chasing a dream about to die. It was a good dream and Island Transit, Version 1.0 if not for the malfeasance you mentioned could have lived on for many more years to come.

      Island Transit has a CPA already on staff to do the budgeting I understand. Furthermore, the goal here is 25% fare recovery like with Community Transit so I don’t see your 10% figure.

      If Island Transit is to receive state money ever again, it’s going to have to start charging fares. Plus the new Island Transit Board & its legislative patrons want fares installed not just for financial but ideological reasons (e.g. skin in the game, kick the riff-raff off the buses). That’s a substantial amount of money & political support Island Transit, Version 2.0 can’t just write off.

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