Tag Archives: Ron Sims

Saving service

For the past several weeks, since hearing news of Metro’s dismal budget outlook (higher than projected fuel costs, lower than projected sales tax revenues), we transit types have been wondering whether we’d be faced with service cuts, fare hikes higher than the original 25-cent proposal, or both. Folks, hold on to your bus passes: We might not have to deal with either.

Today, Ron Sims is proposing a “plan C” that this bus chick can get behind. From the KCCK himself:

I fundamentally believe that a robust transportation network that moves people between their homes and their jobs is critical to our long term economic prosperity. An accessible, reliable and affordable public transportation system is vital to our community. Moreover, reducing the number of cars on the road is essential to reducing carbon emissions and protecting our environment. Thus, we must do all we can to keep our buses running and maintain our existing transit service. We must also remain steadfast with the implementation of the service expansion we promised voters when we asked them to approve the Transit Now initiative.

Therefore, I am proposing a measure that will not reduce bus service and will limit our [fall] fare increase to 25 cents … with another 25 cent increase in 2010.


These fare increases, however, by themselves will not be enough to make up the financial shortfall over the next two years. Rather than reducing services, I further propose that the shortfall be covered by the sale of some Metro capital assets such as the Bellevue Metro site worth approximately $18 million and by cutting capital projects totaling approximately $65 million. In addition, I propose to spend operating and capital reserves of approximately $45 – $60 million. This is an appropriate time to use these rainy day funds given the unprecedented financial storm pounding Metro today.

I admit I don’t fully understand the implications of the asset sales (the Bellevue property, at least, is not currently being used), and Lord knows I’m not a fan of fare increases, but given Metro’s funding constraints and service obligations, this seems like a reasonable (and reasonably creative) response to the crisis. Now is the time for more transit and more incentives to ride, not cuts. Sims’ proposal keeps us from losing ground–at least until we can identify more progressive (and predictable!) sources of transit funding.

Trickle down

High fuel prices + lots more riders = a major budget shortfall, and hence, Ron Sims is proposing another 25-cent fare increase.

With Metro Transit ridership and diesel fuel prices at record levels, King County Executive Ron Sims on July 3, 2008 announced he will preserve current service and continue delivering new service by proposing a 25-cent fare increase. Sims opted for the proposed increase rather than cut service to pay for fuel costs that have skyrocketed over 60 percent this year alone.

“This worldwide fuel crisis comes at a time of historic ridership growth for Metro Transit–and is the reason why residents are turning to transit in record numbers as their own budgets are squeezed,” Sims said. “But the same rising fuel costs contributing to Metro’s popularity are making it more expensive to deliver service and maintain aggressive transit-growth plans.

If the Council approves the proposal, it will take effect on October 1st.

I don’t have much to say about this, except–yet again–that it’s time to get serious about finding creative, progressive ways (other than fares and sales taxes, please) to increase funding for transit. We said we wanted folks to ride, right?

Remember all the new bus service we voted for last fall?

Yesterday, the County Kingpin announced a contract to purchase up to 500 buses, enough to provide that new service*–and then some.

The first 22 articulated hybrids will arrive next spring, with another planned order for 100 buses in 2009 to provide new Rapid Ride service on five routes.


The contract, structured similar to those used in the aviation industry, will give Metro the flexibility to order different types of buses and components specifically designed for different uses whether it is hybrid-electric, regular diesel-powered or European-style coaches fashioned for future bus rapid transit routes. General Motors and Cummins will provide major operating components for the buses.

Metro expects subsequent orders will be used to replace aging buses in its fleet and for expanded service to offset the traffic impacts associated with reconstruction of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and State Route 520.

Want to know more (about costs, vehicle specs, and the details of the contract)? Check out this article in Transportation Today.

*Note that some off-peak service improvements are already in place.