Wednesday, October 26, 2011

TriMets Budget Woes

So TriMet is at it again, claiming budget woes on the backs of it riders. According to Twitter reports, TriMet is considering another fare increase, and service cuts. Relying on a method of taxes tied to the job market, what did they expect in a recession? We all know TriMet thinks outside the bus, but never outside the box. One of the Board Reps suggested deleting WES service, since its the largest money loser in TriMets toy box. Why doesn't TriMet look at other possibilities for revenue? While we all know that MAX is a culprit, that they won't admit to, that ship has sailed and been fired at plenty. Heres some ideas, with the first being most import, and probably most controversial.

Cut the salaries of all Managers, Directors and Executives by 15%. Most of these employees make over $100,000 per year (Thats anyone with the above words in their titles, or who act in such a capacity). While they say they have had a wage freeze, and cut positions, theres more that can be done here. There are over 100 employees making over $100k per year that fall under the above category. That is a savings of at least $1.5 million! Those who actually provide the service to the riders, have taken a pay cut, in the way of the forced upon Medical Premium sharing costs. The riders have put up with less service, less options. The nation is tightening its belt, and TriMet Admin/Execs has done this in almost every way, except to themselves. These people are selfish to keep making these above average salaries on the backs of its riders. If you can not afford the paycut, then you shouldn't be living outside your means in a economic climate like this, and it certainly shouldn't become the problem of your riders and customers. Take a paycut to preserve service, to preserve jobs, and to do the right thing in this economy.

Add 3% to the Hotel Occupancy Tax This option can only be exercised after the option above has been put into place, its not fair to add taxes when execs are raking it in, and we will not be using these taxes to fund their salaries. In 2009 there were 19,465 hotel rooms available in the Portland area (Vancouver excluded), on average the occupancy rate is 63%, or 12,263 rooms occupied each night. Adding 3% to the tax is $3 per $100 spent on the room. The average room rate is slightly less. This has potential of up to $13 million in annual revenues. If this tax was in acted, it should be put in stone that it can only be used for bus operations. That is Bus Fuel, Bus maintenance, Bus Cleaners, Bus Drivers, VM personnel, Bus Shelters, Bus Flags etc. It may NOT be used for mangers of ANY kind, or capital projects under the exception of bus purchases or Bus Rapid Transit. The funds may not be used for MAX or WES under ANY circumstance. Also, the current operations budget must remain in force, you can not shift money from the current budget from bus to rail because of the new funding, this is made to improve bus service, and maintain high levels of quality bus service all over the region. The tax would only apply to the TriMet service district. This tax effects mostly business travelers and tourists, which many use the Free Rail Zone to get around the city centre. A weekly stay at $100 per night would cost $21 more for the week, its not much, but helps a great bit.

Charge $10 per year to car registrations An option just exercised here in Seattle, this should be a last resort option, and only added if the above two options are insufficient. Owning a car is a luxury, and this is minimal amount to help preserve bus service, or provide better service! This option adds $10 per year, or $20 to your car tab renewal. Theres about 520,000 registered cars in Multnomah county, adding up to $5.2 million per year, not including Washington and Clackamas counties. While this usually doesn't mow over well with car owners, they need be reminded their SOV status is causing much more harm. The terms of spending this revenue would be the same as option 2 above.

So its time for the Execs and managers and directors to step up, take a cut until things turn around, and help the agency do what it supposed to do, provide transit service to those who need it most, and to those who are willing to ditch their cars for it. Time to end the top heavy spending that TriMet has so selfishly held on to so tight, and provide a world class transit system. Your budget woes should include high salaries and service cuts at the same time. Once you have done that, then lets start the path to not good bus service, but GREAT bus service!

In completely unrelated news, TriMet is hiring Part-Time Bus Operators.


Michael Andersen said...

Super interesting, Chad. Where'd you get the numbers on hotel-motel? Has this been proposed before?

punkrawker4783 said...

I know I have mentioned it a few times, but never really worked the numbers, I haven't really heard of anywhere else doing this type of thing.

Al M said...

***** STAR!