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Transportation - page 2

Transportation Funding Package

Hold on to your wallets. Seattle has created a “Seattle Transportation Benefit District”. This will consist of 9 Seattle city council members. One thing they are tinkering with is raising car tab fees. It will be divided up as follows.

  • an $80 vehicle license fee, with: 
  • 50% of the revenue would go to transit
  • 30% of the revenue would go to street maintenance 
  • 20% of the revenue would go to pedestrian, neighborhood, and bicycle improvements.

This message came out in “The Reader” that Mayor Mike McGinn sends out which is very informative but which I seldom agree with. The Mayor is blaming the recession AND the Eyman initiatives for all the money problems. He says he has no money for basic street maintenance. How can that be? Look all over the city at the projects going on. These are not basic maintenance. They have torn up my whole street and re-doing it when it did not even have a pot hole. They must have a list or plan to tear up a street every few years or who knows if they even have a plan. But the money the transportation department squanders would pave a yellow brick road most anyplace. Instead it just raises our property tax, car license fees and anything else they can sqeak through without a vote. Look what the city council did with the tunnel that no one wants, no one can afford, and will be so dangerous only a fool would go in it. Not sure if they are putting a bike lane in it for the Mayor or not.

When you count on the government to fix the problem that the government created, it will never work. I am not against future planning, I am not against rebuilding things that need rebuilding but we have a bunch of buffo’s that seem to just sit and make a plan and then tell us “worker bees” we are going to get a new road, a new bridge, a new tunnel and it wont cost us a thing. The city will pay and X amount, the state will kick in a few millions, then the good old Federal Government will surely write a check for the rest. They have not told most of the sheep out here that the money tree is really their own pocket. They count on you being so busy with going to work, and your family that you just pay your taxes and stay quiet. BUT right now people have lost their jobs, taxes are maxed but the planners are still planning away.

We need 9 council members that think like Tim Eyman and Elizabeth Campbell and there would be some changes in the city’s spending. The transit drivers are the third highest paid in the nation. That should change. The salaries they pay the people in the transportation department are obscene. Top dog at DOT has a salary of $600,000 and picture what the whole department squanders away. The more they raise the taxes the more raises and bonuses they will get. They muddle it by saying that appropriations committee set the funds aside, or they have to spend millions of city/state dollars to get federal funds but you never hear a thing about government efficiency.

“The Reader” said the Mayor and City Council members want to hear from you. Please contact them. Their addresses are on our website for your convenience here. If enough people start to complain someone will hear about it. Right now any letter I have written to the council members or my congressman had resulted in a boiler plate answer, one size fits all. I could have written a letter saying the “neighbors hamster peed on my lawn”, or tell them to put aside their “funding packages until the recession is over’, and I would have gotten the same answer from them. I want to give credit where credit is due. Mayor McGinn sends a boiler plate letter first but you do get a personal e mail that mentions what you had written him about.

Metro Transit Doesn’t Make It Easy To Ride The Bus In Georgetown

Metro Transit does not care about their people who depend on buses to be independent and get to doctors or grocery shopping. In Georgetown metro has closed our bus stop. It is what they call the Carlton Ave Stop. I have caught the bus there for 45 years, but the other day when I went to that stop a bag was hanging over it, saying stop closed. There was no sign telling me where to go or what to do. That was a real shock. I came home and got on their website and it showed it was open. Two different people that answer the phone insisted it was open. See picture below. One girl said well just walk down to Brighton. From Corson Ave to Brighton is 2/10ths of a mile or more. I am 87 and after walking 2 ½ blocks to the bus I really cant walk 3 or 4 more blocks and still feel up to getting on the bus. The 124 from Federal Way to downtown on 4th, the 131 and 134 that go to Burien(because the South Park Bridge is closed), the 60 bus that goes to White Center all stopped there. It is the only stop that serves the residential portion of Georgetown. Brighton is the stop for the South Seattle Community College. There is no reason why that stop is closed. We are not asking for a new bus stop. There never has been a bench or shelter, so we are not asking for that, there is no business that the stop is bothering. It is a real hardship for me, for my neighbors in wheel chairs, Mothers with babies in strollers and toddlers walking along beside them are having a terrible time. We don’t have bus service anymore. The same buses go right by so we are not asking for a thing except just stop and pick us up. They can’t say its cost saving. Wouldn’t it be better to stop and pick up a few paying customers than just pass us by?  In the afternoon a lot of workers from the factories around here use that bus stop.  This is plain crazy. I used to ride to Federal Way with my children who live there and then take the bus home to save them a long drive back and forth, but now the bus goes right by Corson and takes me almost to 4th and Michigan and I have to walk back home with my shopping. Well they can’t blame Bush for that.

Washington State Department Of Transportation – Failure Analysis

With all the media attention on the Washington State Department of Transportation (tolls, ferries, traffic, road work) recently, I wanted to dive into the actual financial figures and “try to figure out the system”.  We are all constantly hearing about the ferries losing money or the new 520 tolls starting soon.   It’s on every news channel and it’s a constant reminder of how much we’re losing and how we are going to need to generate more money to make all this work.  The question is, however, do we really need to generate more money?  Are the money problems with management or the process at which communication takes place?  It’s about time we give it a quick analysis to see what is happening. 

First, I am not claiming to know the transportation system in Washington State.  I am just looking at one official financial report (most recent I could find) and giving my honest opinion.

The report is for November 2010 and is based on approx figures.  It states for November 2010 our total revenue was 4.06 billion dollars.  From the pie chart at the top you’ll notice 49% off that revenue is from tax generated from fuel. 

49% of the Washington State Department of Transportation revenue is generated from Gas/Fuel – lets discuss this first.

I am going to jump right to the long term problem with this revenue generating business model.  As a state/country we are pushing for greener operations.  We see it everyday on the TV and new laws are being created to force companies to participate.  New electric vehicles are being manufactured and sold everyday and it appears to be a positive change.   However, this change means that the more we push for green and embrace it the less revenue we are going to have.  Less money goes to must have road repairs and that means less jobs.  I am and I hope you are for a more greener planet.  It provides less pollution and gives us more control over oil but do you see the problem here?  The faster we embrace a change for better (green) the faster revenues will drop.  If this is our biggest transportation revenue source and the Washington State Department of Transportation cannot make the budget work now – how is going to work when this revenue source drops to 25% or less?  That’s a problem and huge transportation financial gap.

Ferry Revenue

From the November 2010 report, it says we generated 301.3 million in revenue from the ferry system (good).  It also says we spent 359.2 million to support the ferry system (bad).  My math says we lost over 50 million for the month of November.  I’m disappointed the report doesn’t provide more details as to where that money was spent exactly (gas/management/repairs etc).  The public needs to know the details so change can be made to support the ferries.  It generates a good amount of money and we need to figure out where that money truly is going.

Rental Car Tax & Vehicle Sales Tax (Revenue)

The rental car tax revenue came to 43.7 million and our total vehicle sales tax revenue came to 54 million.  I didn’t expect these figures to be almost the same since when you buy a car the sales tax is usually thousands of dollars and rental car tax is under $10 dollars. 

In our next report we’ll discuss where our revenue is going.

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