City Transit Agencies Facing Cuts
posted by October 29 at 13:46 PMon
As King County Metro is mulling cutbacks to service (and the potential elimination of some voter-approved service upgrades) in the face of declining sales-tax revenues, our neighboring transit system to the south, Pierce Transit, just announced it is cutting 64 positions by laying off 19 employees and 13 contract workers and eliminating 32 unfilled positions. According to the Tacoma News Tribune, the agency says it will try to “keep the cuts from affecting service.” Pierce Transit is also raising fares 25 cents.
And that’s in response to an anticipated $17.5 million deficit—a fraction of what King County Metro is anticipating. According to Metro general manager Kevin Desmond, Metro’s deficit is expected to grow from $83 million in 2009 to $87 million in 2010, dropping to between $60 and $70 million in 2011. Metro plans to make up some of that shortfall by raising fares another 50 cents, but at some point, they, too, are going to have to make cuts. It’ll be a shame if those cuts impact transit service at a time when ridership is as high as it’s ever been on Metro buses and on transit systems nationwide. Throughout the US, public transportation use has risen 32 percent since 1995, with 10.3 billion trips on public transit last year—the highest level in 50 years.
One potential source of funding is the federal government. Transit advocacy groups like the American Public Transportation Association have been lobbying Congress to adopt an economic-stimulus package that includes $8 billion in federal financing for local public-transit agencies. According to APTA, every dollar communities invest in public transit produces $6 in economic returns; every $1 billion the federal government invests in transit, meanwhile, leads to the creation of approximately 35,000 jobs.