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Pierce Transit board adopts plan to cut service 34 percent in September

Post by Steve Maynard / The News Tribune on Jan. 14, 2013 at 7:58 pm with 13 Comments »
January 14, 2013 9:07 pm

Pierce Transit’s board voted Monday night to cut service by 34 percent in September as a result of the defeat of a sales tax increase.

The board also debated options to cut sooner in June or later in February 2014, but chose a middle course.

During two hours of deliberations, board Chairwoman and Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland stressed the decision was difficult. “No matter what we do, we’re going to have to take service away from some of our riders,” Strickland said.

The board voted 6 to 2 to adopt a timeline and plan to make the cuts effective Sept. 29.

The cutbacks won’t be as drastic as what the agency had projected in mailers sent to voters before the Nov. 6 election. Pierce Transit said in those cards that annual service hours would be reduced by 53 percent if voters failed to approve an additional three-tenths of 1 percent sales tax.

The reductions mean:

• Weekend and holiday service will be eliminated, as projected before the election.

• Weekday evening service after 7 p.m. will be reduced but not entirely eliminated as was stated in the mailers.

• On most routes, mid-day or peak-hour service won’t be cut as severely as predicted.

Some on the board leaned toward supporting Pierce Transit’s staff recommendation to make all the cuts in June – an option the agency introduced Friday. Chief Executive Officer Lynne Griffith said Pierce Transit changed its recommendation Friday from September to June because it could save a additional 7,000 more service hours over September.

Doug Middleton, vice president of operations, said bus operators have been quitting at an accelerated rate – one a week – since the three-tenths of 1 percent sales tax proposal was narrowly defeated in November. Operators with less seniority are leaving because of the inevitable cuts at a rate that will leave the agency short 30 to 40 drivers in September, Middleton said.

That attrition added to the pressure on the board to cut sooner rather than later.

Leave a comment Comments → 13
  1. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    Cut service, cut routes, cut everything but overhead, bloated union salaries and benefits.

    As expected the Board is going to punish the ridership and the taxpayers instead of looking inward for cuts to make. Typical union strategy mastered by the teachers union. Punish the taxpayers and keep running the levy and bond until it passes.

    All a person has to do is look at the salary data base for PT and you can see what needs to be cut. Bet they are still paying the union chief $75,000 a year. Disgusting how these people manage.

  2. EzraMelech says:

    “We” ridership and taxpayers as a whole need to speak up and send the mayor and board members our views. Nothing will change unless people take a stand. Does the mayor or board members really realize how many people “depend” on bus service? And i’m not just talking low income folks either. I know many people who use bus service to travel to and from work.

    Bus’s reduce Traffic congestion, which saves tax dollars bus’s reduce Pollution, bus service helps local businesses. Plus many more benefits. Most major metropolitan cities invest “heavily” in public transportation yet in Western Wa (one of the highest taxed areas in the country) what do we do? Cut Service…

    Cut the overhead, cut the bloated salaries, invest in MORE public transportation and save on wasting money on all this stupid construction on I-5 that doesn’t help congestion but actually is making it worse…..

  3. arbeenjo says:

    “53% cuts” “35% cuts” “34% cuts”…..all in the news in the space of a few days. All smoke and mirrors. Remember that a aizeable portion of PT’s area was already cut prior to the last election by the opting out of outlyer towns like Bonney Lake and others. They never should have been part of PT in the first place since they represented inefficient routes. Now PT is saying they’re cutting an additional 53%…35%…34% from what remains? This after PT stated it cut $50M+ from it budget already? Sounds like an accounting gimick. Remember that the proposed tax hike would have raised PT revenue by $35M annually or about 25%. What PT is theatening is to cut services by more than the amount they would have received had the tax passed and expanded their services. It just doesn’t add up and the PT commissioners need to bring calculators to their meetings.

  4. If one of the guys in Jr. High had picked on the
    poor, elderly and disabled we would have called him
    a coward.

  5. Don’t you just love the criminal element of unions. They have really screwed many people….who controls public schools, the fire, the police, the cities? The unions do and look at the mess they have created….but they don’t care, they have a super great pension plan when they retire at 55…

  6. stanleyvoice says:

    Here’s the thing, yes the union has attained a higher than normal benefit level which only until recently, it was quite robust for the area.

    What folks don’t realize that Pierce Transit relies for the funding on a source that is highly cyclical and dependent on the economy. Mainly, sales tax. The other portion of their revenue is derived through their contract with Sound Transit to provide for commuter service.

    Yes, all areas of operating expenses should be placed on the table with the last cuts being those that affect the folks who use the service. But to have a cost efficient and reliable user friendly public transportation, it needs a dedicated funding source that it does not have to share with Sound Transit or other highway projects. We need change first at the State level so we can build a system that attracts employers and riders alike.

  7. GiveItaRest says:

    Are you cutting staff by 34% also? Are there going to be any cuts to pay and benefits, or is it just sock it to the riders?

  8. If they are cutting 34% of service, does this include 34% of employees?

  9. I think we should take PT to task over this, “The cutbacks won’t be as drastic as what the agency had projected in mailers sent to voters before the Nov. 6 election. Pierce Transit said in those cards that annual service hours would be reduced by 53 percent if voters failed to approve an additional three-tenths of 1 percent sales tax.”

    In other words, they either lied to us OR performed their math so carelessly they completely miscalculated the shortfall. Pretty big difference between 53% told to us on election day and the 34% being considered now, a 64% difference in fact.

    Here is a novel idea, keep service the same and raise fares to cover costs. Can’t afford the fares? Ask for assistance from a local non-profit that will help with transportation cost, lots of them do. I’d be the first to donate to a non-profit specifically setup to help with such a thing.

    I object to every tax payer being saddled with a bill for a service they don’t use. Pay for what you use and if you can’t afford it, ask for assistance from those that are willing to help.

  10. I knew they were lying.

  11. They need to take a look at the management salaries and how much money has been wasted under since she took over. How much of my tax dollars went into all of the office renovations. STOP wasting my tax dollars on yourself and your fancy lifestyle and start doing the job you are supposed to do and that is to provide transportation. It’s time for management to take a pay cut, you obviously are not doing your job properly. IF you can save my tax dollars and provide the best possible service to our community, then I do not mind giving you a raise for doing your job but if you keep coming to me and asking me for money and NOT doing your job, then something needs to change.

  12. stradivari says:

    Look! It is not the bus employees who in good faith bargained fair compensation are responsible for the transit cut backs. Blame the voters who didn’t see the value of paying for a quality level of service. Elections have consequences. People without cars are the victims of public apathy.

  13. victims? If you don’t have a car it either because you chose not to or can’t afford to have one. How are you a “victim” in either case? Because the public decided not to give you their money?

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