Political Buzz

Talking WA politics.

NOTICE: Political Buzz has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Political Buzz.
Visit the new section.

You can weigh in on proposed Pierce Transit cuts and their effect on you at public meetings in Gig Harbor, Tacoma and Olympia this week

Post by Kris Sherman / The News Tribune on April 17, 2011 at 1:47 pm with 24 Comments »
April 17, 2011 1:50 pm

Pierce Transit’s date for making service cuts permanent is less than 60 days away, and public meetings are scheduled in Gig Harbor and Tacoma this week to discuss the plans.

A public meeting also is set in Olympia for members of the public to get information about how the Pierce Transit reductions will affect express bus service to the capital.

Some 150 people attended a meeting on the proposed cuts last week, and more than 50 talked about “hot important transit is to their lives,” according to Pierce Transit’s website.

The agency, its operations crippled by an explosion at its natural gas refueling station in February, has said it will slash service by 20 percent June 12 and then another 15 percent on Oct. 2.

The cuts are necessary due to increased costs coupled with weak sales tax revenues, CEO Lynne Griffith has said.

Agency officials say they don’t see any way out of the cuts, which were set in motion after a three-tenths of 1 percent increase in the sales tax failed at the polls in February. The accident at the refueling station in Lakewood compounded the problem, they have sais.

The meetings are scheduled to hear from the public about the effect of the proposed cuts and to discuss planned route eliminations and changes to service times. The agency’s rules require such hearings before cuts are made, spokeswoman Jessyn Farrell said last month.

But the hearings aren’t meant to determine whether cuts will come; that decision has already been made.

The Olympia meeting, to be held by Intercity Transit, is to gauge the effect of the Pierce Transit cuts on Olympia service, according to a note on the Pierce Transit website. The meeting also was called to discuss “whether or not Intercity Transit can alter its express service to alleviate the effect,” the Pierce Transit website says.

In addition to the meetings in Gig Harbor, Tacoma and Olympia this week, public sessions are set in Puyallup and Bonney Lake next week.

Here’s the schedule:

Gig Harbor
Monday, 4 to 6 p.m.: Gig Harbor Civic Center, 3510 Grandview St.

Olympia (conducted by Intercity Transit):
Wednesday, 5:30 p.m.: 526 Pattison St.S.E.

Thursday, 5 to 7 p.m.: Tacoma City Hall, first floor Council Chambers, 747 Market St.

April 25, 4 to 6 p.m.: Puyallup City Hall, Council Chambers, 333 S Meridian, Puyallup

Bonney Lake
April 28, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.: Interim Justice Center, 9002 Main St. E.

If you can’t attend a meeting, you may send written comments to the Pierce Transit Operations Planning Division, P.O. Box 99070, Lakewood, WA 98496-0070. Make them ATTN: Tina Lee, principal planner. You also can send them by email to pttomorrow@piercetransit.org. Written comments must be received by April 27.

Leave a comment Comments → 24
  1. tree_guy says:

    The cuts are necessary due to increased costs coupled with weak sales tax revenues, CEO Lynne Griffith has said.

    Read more: http://blog.thenewstribune.com/politics/2011/04/17/you-can-weigh-in-on-proposed-pierce-transit-cuts-and-their-effect-on-you-at-public-meetings-in-gig-harbor-tacoma-and-olympia-this-week/#ixzz1JokKkuWh

    Lynn, how come you keep forgetting to mention that the bus drivers union failed to agree to any wage concessions?

  2. tree_guy says:

    What exactly is a “permanent service cut?” Does this mean until the end of time, even thousands of years into the future? What if sales tax revenue drops even more? Will we have to re-examine the permanent service cuts?

  3. tacomajoe says:

    We will be insisting that Griffith and administrators also take pay cuts, as they are “supervising” a smaller agency.

  4. You guys are sending your survey people out tell us the riders to come to the meetings and we missing work thinking things going to get better when really cuts are going to happen any way???? What are we here for. Yes we need the services for work,school, doctor appointments etc and you know this is the end? Just let us know so we can start to find other ways to get around if need. I”m sorry to see this happen for us the riders and the drivers that will soon be out of a job. God bless us all. Annette

  5. tree_guy says:

    Well Annette, if the drivers and staff at Pierce Transit had made proportional wage and salary concessions there wouldn’t have been any service reductions. What drove this process was pure unadulterated greed.

  6. Washington voters didn’t seriously think they could repeal taxes without paying the consequences, did they?

    This makes me sad. Cutting services will just hurt those who are struggling to get to their jobs and can’t afford cars, or gas prices. Of course, people are always willing to cut services if it personally doesn’t affect them. And unfortunately, bus services are one of them.

  7. “But the hearings aren’t meant to determine whether cuts will come; that decision has already been made.”

    So what is the point? I can’t miss work to attend a public hearing on an issue that has already been decided.

    Does Pierce Transit have any plans to try again with the small sales tax increase that failed on its first try? Maybe a fare increase? This seems like what “tree_guy” was alluding to- you’re giving up, and these cuts are forever?

    Our household has been impacted by the service cuts. I’m sure many others have been as well. Pierce Transit’s response to a one-time failure at the ballot box seems very odd. Like- “game over”…

  8. tree_guy says:

    “Washington voters didn’t seriously think they could repeal taxes without paying the consequences, did they?” rizhnir

    Would you mind reminding us what tax the Washington voters repealed?

  9. alindasue says:

    I think the biggest problem is that Pierce Transit’s funding is tied to something as variable as sales tax. In weak economic times when transit is needed more than ever, spending – and by extension, PT’s funding – decreases. We need a more stable funding source, similar to the 911 charge on all phone service. Perhaps we could replace the sales tax funding with a flat transit fee added to the car tabs – or better yet, tack a flat transit fee on to property tax bills. Not everyone drives, but everyone pays property taxes either directly as home owners or indirectly through their rents.

    Just like in the case of 911 service, not everyone uses public transportation but we all benefit from it being there. If you don’t believe me, go take a look at your local park&ride some time. Nearly every one of those cars is a car that is not adding to the road congestion. Those park&ride’s get pretty pretty full. Even before the parking fees started downtown a few months ago, the Tacoma Dome transit center garage was filled with commuters to near capacity by about 9:00 most mornings.

    tree_guy, you always seem so keen in your comments on requiring bus drivers, teachers, and the like to make ” wage and salary concessions”. So, I really have to ask: just how much of a pay and benefits cut are willing to negotiate for yourself this year? Just curious. It’s always easier to ask others to sacrifice than it is to sacrifice oneself.

    By the way “permenant service cuts” means that no end date has been forseen. A temporary service cut generally has an established period, for example: the service changes caused by the fire near the CNG pumps are in effect “until June.” And… yes, if funding decreases further, they will no doubt have to reduce service again. That’s how it works; we get the transit service we pay for.

  10. I have the same questions as “alindasue”. What happens when the economy makes a turn around and you have excess funds? Do you just budget those funds in and spend them or do you reduce rates, or refund the taxpayers in some way?
    What of these Transit Taxes that are being attached to our License Tabs? When is any of that money ever going to make it to Pierce County?
    Face facts, Boys and Girls, PCT screwed the pup and now they want the public to bail them out because they weren’t aware we were in a recession. Every candidate from the President on down to State offices said quite clearly that the worst thing to do during a recession is to raise taxes. Yet here comes Pierce Transit, preceded by Tacoma Power, Light AND Water all raising rates, fares and taxes. Didn’t these people LISTEN???
    My Social Security checks and VA Disability haven’t increased in 3 years, yet every gov’t entity from sewer to buses wants a chunk of what I get.
    I have no vacation savings or Christmas fund. We don’t go out to eat and ‘m driving an 8 year old car. When my expenses go up, the only place in my budget that I can cut is FOOD. Tell me, how hungry must my family and I get in order to satisfy these morons???

  11. tree_guy says:

    “So, I really have to ask: just how much of a pay and benefits cut are willing to negotiate for yourself this year? ” alindasue

    I’m self employed. When the economy is bad like it has been for the last two or three years my take home pay goes down. I don’t like it but I understand it. When there is a prolonged recession like we are experiencing tax payer funded employees should be willing to make proportional adjustments downwards in their pay checks. That’s not asking too much.

  12. Why should the drivers take pay cuts? All you tea partyers think everyone should work for 35k a year. I say BS. Get yourself educated and keep high wages a permanent cycle! Tea Party got to hell…o

  13. oner, do you own your government job or would you be willing to share it with someone who is currently unemployed?

  14. @tree_guy

    I guess I imagined the repeal on candy and other taxes? You are one of those people who want to pay less in taxes but expect others when that revenue is lost. Do you think the government will just run on magic if you cut revenues?

    And of course, you demand drivers and teachers to take a PAY CUT. Even if you are self-employed, would you willingly take a pay cut? Willingly?

    No. Don’t start supposing that others will do so either.

  15. tree_guy says:

    The candy tax was a state tax. I’m pretty sure it didn’t have anything to do with Pierce Transit.

    I didn’t DEMAND that anybody take a pay cut. I SUGGESTED that service levels could have been maintained had employees agreed to a wage cut. I’ll bet the drivers who are getting laid off would have preferred a pay cut to a layoff.

    You asked if I would be willing to take a pay cut. I already posted that I am self employed and am taking a pay cut to remain self employed. Yes I have been willing to take a pay cut.

  16. rideralert says:

    It’s pretty black and white. Pierce Transit is supported by 70% of sales tax. If you’re posting a comment on here, you know the economy is shot. Less spending = less public options. Period.

    Raising the fare is not an valuable option. People who use PT already have complained about the last 3 years it has increased.

    If you look at the actual cost, would you spend $27.00 per ride if you lived in Bonney Lake to downtown Tacoma? I don’t think so. The average cost per ride with all the routes is over $6.00 per ride.

  17. tree_guy says:

    “People who use PT already have complained about the last 3 years it has increased”

    The riders are only paying about 20% of the cost of their ride. If I went to a fancy restaurant and they sold me a wonderful $25 t-bone steak for $5 I wouldn’
    t complain a bit.

  18. rideralert says:

    Was it really that hard to pass a .03% of a sales increase when Pierce Transit’s budget is funded by 70% of .06 cents on every $10 in Pierce County? What’s .09 cents for SERVICE?

    You get what you vote for…

  19. truthbusterguy says:

    I want the system to be privatized before people in Tacoma have only their “fast walking sticks” to get around town on.

    This is the fault of the union and excessive pay scales for drivers and management should also be ashamed.

    Your wasteful ways and union greed lead to this and I am glad. I just bet that personal cuts are not in ratio with service cuts.

    These people are all frauds. They only care about themselves. Don’t give them another red cent.

  20. Rollo_Tomassi says:


    If cost were the issue, then we could convince taxpayers to support just a .01% increase in sales taxes to benefit the Rollo Tomassi Enrichment Fund. Think of it, for just 1 cent on every ten dollar purchase Pierce County Taxpayers could set me up in a life of luxury!

    But the the question is not about cost, it is about value. Just as voters would see no value in setting me up in the life of luxury I dream of, neither did they see the value in spending more money on Pierce Transit. The bloated management structure, the generous union contracts, the budget inflexibility, all combined to convince voters that Pierce Transit was not providing value for the tax dollars it requested.

    It’s not the cost, It’s the value.

  21. rideralert says:

    Value? Hmm, that’s the first thing I thought about when I voted for the Tacoma Public Schools levy even though I don’t have any kids… I support something I don’t contribute too? And all those teachers, who on average, make $65K a year.

  22. No tree guy! I dont need to share my job! I earned my job through education and hard work and years of experience. Just the way these people have worked in their jobs. They should not have to take paycuts because you are unemployed or because the county pizzes the money away. It aint the drivers’ fault.

  23. Rollo_Tomassi says:

    rideralert –

    I assume that you see value in educating children, even if they are not your own. I do too. An educated populace is a more productive and more peaceful populace. There is the value in education.

    Are you comparing teachers who average over $65K a year to bus drivers who average $40K a year (not counting overtime)? If so, then you’ve fallen into the trap of looking at cost versus value (again).

    Instead of comparing their relative costs, look at the unique value each profession contributes and it becomes clearer why there is a salary discrepancy.

  24. rideralert says:

    No, my point was is that I value transporation, just as I value education/kids. Both, I believe, are important in my community that I live in. You’re reaching too far if you voted against Prop 1 based on a drivers salary.

    All in all, Pierce Transit made it clear: before we all voted, a failed prop would mean LESS SERVICE and MORE TRAFFIC. You can’t argue that.

We welcome comments. Please keep them civil, short and to the point. ALL CAPS, spam, obscene, profane, abusive and off topic comments will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked. Thanks for taking part and abiding by these simple rules.

Follow the comments on this post with RSS 2.0