Tomorrow is Transit Operators Appreciation Day.

This is an open thread.

16 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Meet Bonnie”

  1. Sound Transit’s tax revenues in 2018 were mighty impressive. The conservative budgeting made the actuals really pop! $125 million more tax revenue than budgeted — woot! Has the ST3 Financial Plan been updated for this year yet? Can’t find it at “the .org’s” new website . . ..

    1. At one time, Sound Transit produced their annual financial plan in the first half of the year. However, in more recent years the report’s public release has been all over the calendar. There were even a few years that the agency failed to publish an annual update at all. Most recently, the annual financial plan has been rolled up into the end-of-year budgeting process, been stripped down to its current limited format, and frankly not been given the attention it warrants.

      1. Nope. I’m talking about the annual financial plan that the agency, as you rightfully say, is supposed to update and publish every year. I take the time to read it whenever ST finally gets around to releasing it. I have harped about it on this very blog several times in the past few years.

        As I indicated previously, the agency has consolidated this annual reporting task into their budget cycle. Rogoff himself announced this (with a bit of smug satisfaction imho) internal process change at several board meetings.

      2. I’ve got the 2019 SIP and the 2019 annual budget documents. They don’t contain the subarea revenue projections updated with actual revenues. The Financial Plan voters approved isn’t consolidated into budget cycles, and staff can’t ignore what ST3 requires.

        As far as you know NO ST3 Financial Plan of the type the voter-approved ST3 measure requires has been produced, correct?

      3. Maybe this link will help to clarify the annual report of which I’m speaking. Since Sound Transit moved to their new website last year, they have done a fair amount of scrubbing and messed up some of their archived document links (e.g., a financial plan pdf url actually linked to their annual financial report). If you go the live site, and search for financial documents and then filter by “financial plan”, you will quickly discover some of the issues with these archived documents. For example, if you take the steps just stated above, take note of the publish date given for these older reports. It’s kind of a mess.

        Because of these issues, it might be easier to simply use the wayback machine to get access to these important archived documents. Personally I think the format used on the old website for accessing agency information/documents, historical or current, was superior to the way the new website functions.

        I think this should help clarify that we are indeed talking about the same report.

      4. “They don’t contain the subarea revenue projections updated with actual revenues.”

        I believe this particular piece of the annual financial plan is now a one-page consolidated report contained in the appendix. It should contain the fiscal data for the entire period of 2017 thru 2041, broken down by subarea. The plan should be updated and thereby reflect the most recent closed year’s actual financial results, meaning that 2017 actuals are included but 2018 actuals (which had not been closed yet at the time of publishing) are not.

        Frankly, its current format is very lacking imo. Additionally, my preference would be to have the annual financial plan produced by June when the prior year financials are officially closed out. I don’t see much gained by delaying the report until the Q4 budget process is undertaken.

    2. Just stop. You are confused.

      I linked to Appendix B of ST3, which spells out how subarea equity MUST be implemented. The voter-approved ST3 Financial Plan must contain revenue projections by subarea — including how much tax revenue each subarea is projected to produce while the ST3 taxing is going on. This is not an add-on to an annual budget document, it is a separate report. The board needs the information that report contains to make its spending decisions, because of subarea equity. That is ESPECIALLY true now as the project scoping with costs is being debated. And no, Rogoff never was dismissive of it at any meeting, and he did not decide he could ignore it.

      1. “This is not an add-on to an annual budget document, it is a separate report.”

        As I indicated above, it USED to work that way.

        I’m not confused at all, Renton Steve. I have followed Sound Transit closely on the financial side of things since its inception in the early 90s.

        As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water…

        If you don’t want to do the research, that’s fine of course, but don’t make baseless claims that I don’t know what I’m talking about. The annual financial plan HAS INDEED been rolled up into a component part of the annual budget cycle. Do I need to actually quote what the report says about this, or what Rogoff himself said about it at a few board meetings?
        I can do that homework for you also if you’d like. Sheesh.

      2. I’ve got the draft 2019 budget. On which page of it do you think the ST3 system plan Financial Plan begins?

      3. “The annual financial plan HAS INDEED been rolled up into a component part of the annual budget cycle.”

        I knew you were confused! Here’s the draft 2019 annual document.

        You were thinking of the “Long Range Financial Plan” in that document. The revenues and spending projections are district-wide in it — not broken down by subarea. The ST3 Financial Plan voters approved must contain a different data set. THAT’s the document I can’t locate — do you know where it is?

    1. $163 per bus operating hour does seem very excessive, especially since ST owns the buses, as opposed to renting them from Metro. If labor costs $35/hour, which the article indicates as a rough guideline, this would seem to imply that every hour the bus is on the road requires 3 hours of maintenance (leaving $23/hour left for fuel), which feels very excessive. To illustrate how excessive that is, imagine you’re a typical car commuter that drives half an hour to work each day and half an hour back. It would be like having to take the car into the shop for 3 hours of repair work after every single day’s drive. Yes, cars are expensive, but not that expensive. And buses are generally designed to last longer than cars do.

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