Monday, July 18, 2011

A Car is a Luxury, Transit is a Need

This was in response to many comments I see circulating the internet in regards to the $20 car tab fee for transit:

Because the media feeds info into your head, then you explode it like a turkey in a deep fat fryer into unreasonable assumptions, let help you better see, one life of a Metro Bus driver.

Not all Metro Drivers make the top scale, or make $60k a year. I am a Part Time operator, got this job after 16 months of unemployment a little over a year ago. I make $19.93/hour for my first 2 years. My regular shift has ranged in the last year from 2.5 hours to 3.35 hours per DAY! I am able to scrounge for extra work, and I get some here and there. Like over 1000 of my co-workers, I am on track to make around $20,000 this year (many will make less, very few will make more). This is the same as making only $9.61/hour if working a 40-hour week. According to all of you, this apparently calls for a wage reduction, because I am living the high life in my room I rent. Health insurance is not free to every operator. I do not have it, because it would cost me about $130/month, or about $1600 of my $20,000 salary. Everyone thinks we make too much money, of the 2700 or so operators, only 1700 are FT, and make the 60k yearly salary (some do not due to other reasons, like unpaid leaves). Sure, Some do make a lot more, but they worked for it. It wasn't a "Government handout", its not a performance bonus, we don't get those. They put in the extra hours to keep a bus going. Why do I do this, because I enjoy the work, unlike some people, it isn't always about the money.

Metro blows exactly $0 on light rail trains. Stop assuming thats their problem. Go knock on Sound Transits door if trains are a problem with you. Sound Transit pays for Metro to operate the trains. If you put a comment out there, saying your not voting yes because Metro needs to stop building trains, then your just the lazy/undereducated one for not learning about things first, and making grand assumptions. Don't forget all those Carpool lanes, those were roadways built with transit dollars. But because you SOV around town, those are of no use to you as well.

Why should you pay for something that you don't use? Well, lets see, you pay for Police, Fire, Schools, Parks, etc. I bet you love the Police when they pull you over for speeding, how about the fire department that you need to yield to, such an inconvenience, you have no kids in school, and you hate the noisy family friendly park......yet your paying for all of it! Transit is a public service, Like Police and Fire, it provides a service to the community in which you live in, and is not out to turn a profit. Its easy for you to say "Cut it". But you know, that sales clerk at Nordstrom that sold you that suit, that server at your favorite lunch spot that delivered your food, how about the IT support guy at your work, they could have all taken the bus. Why? Because on low retail/server salaries, they can not afford the LUXURIES of an automobile. $90/month is better for them, or is more affordable. Some people do not like paying for outrageous parking, or dealing with the current traffic situation. "Cut it" means some of them will not be able to serve you, or show up for work, only making our struggling economy worse. Just because the cost of riding the bus doesn't line up with your car payment, doesn't mean one isn't being "fair". Transit touches everyone in some fashion, be it the clerks at your favorite shops, the gas station attendant, or the fact that my bus kept 100 SOVs off the road and out of your way, don't think because your not using it, that it doesn't effect your quality of life.

A change I agree with, Ride Free Area needs to go away. A lot less money could be spent on one bus route that circles downtown, which I have proposed. Also our Transit GM makes less than the CEO of Community Transit, close to $30,000k/year less, and look how well they are fairing.

The squabble over $20 a year for two years, its $1.67 a month. Pocket change. Either way, you will be paying for it, thru $20/year, or through longer travel times in your SOV on the interstate. And little ol me? Well, if this fails, not to worry, I won't have a job to worry about going to, I will return to your taxpayer funded unemployment and food programs.

For what its worth, I'd be happy to contribute $20 of my paycheck once a year to help, sound fair?


EBoperator said...

Like your post. It's a shame that virtually all of us who might be getting laid off are in that same boat of making below poverty line wages and not getting any benefits to speak of and no one knows it.

Tom Richards said...

Interesting post. I am not a driver but a long term bus commuter - ballard to pioneer square. I don't feel that $20 is that much either but I depend on the bus. Not sure that my car commuter friends would agree. Logic about the cost doesn't necessarily work with people that never used the bus - I have tried. I've used the police, fire department etc etc arguments to no avail.
I personally would pay a lot more for bus fare for my 18X bus every day. There are people that can't afford much more but most of us on the 18X work downtown and can afford it.
You drivers seem to get the short end but I can tell you that most of us using the bus daily have the greatest respect and wish that you like others directly affecting my health and safety (bus drivers, firemen, policment, teachers) could get what you really deserve. I know that this long message isn't expressed well but I am pretty upset about what is going on.

Al M said...

Great piece of writing here Chad.
I hope your circulating this around the Seattle area.