Thursday, June 2, 2011

Community Cuts plans to be announced today

I am sitting outside the Community Transit board room in Everett.

The hallways are packed as the meeting, which was scheduled to start at 3pm, has been in executive session for 45 minutes due to discussion of a legal matter.

Once the public board meeting starts the Community Transit board will be briefed on 3 alternative cuts proposals.  Like many transit agencies across the state Community Transit is facing massive cuts and layoffs due to declining sales tax revenues. With 15% cuts last year & the proposed cuts coming out today the total cuts will equal approximately 35% (about the same level at Pierce Transit's current cuts).  Unlike Pierce Transit, Community Transit is maxed out on their state allowed sales tax rate at .9%.

I will post live here as more details come out about the cuts proposals at today's board meeting, which hopefully will start soon!

4:15: An hour later the board is finally back in public session.  First up they took public testimony.  One guy testified and said that they should sell all of their buses and run a private car rideshare transit system.

Now CT staff is discussing previous layoffs at the agency up to this point.  Since the recession they have laid off 108 staff .  Those layoffs have been proportionally distributed between union and non union staff (meaning that the non union staff makes up the same percentage of the agency numerically than it did before the layoffs at 24% of the people in the agency).

4:24pm: Sales tax revenue in 2011 is pretty much flat since 2010 levels... at least it is not following.  CT's budget is also being strained due to increasing fuel costs.

And now there is a presentation on how the agency can hedge fuel...zzzz.

4:50: finally getting to the presentations on the cuts alternatives.  Yay!

This seems a little counter-intuitive to be able to do both...
Goals of the service change in all alternatives:
-Increase productivity
-Maintain at least basic geographic coverage
The Three plans are:
  1. Frequency reduction across the board with service 6 days a week
  2. Frequency reduction with some Sunday service added
  3. Route modification based more on productivity
Details of the plans at this being presented are quite vague, not getting into frequency specifics or route specifics except routes routes that are proposed to be eliminated in all three plans.

All three plans eliminate the last two hours of service at night ending bus routes at by 9:30 or 10pm.  All three routes also cut some UW Seattle service, which has very high productivity numbers.

Alternative one reductive of frequencies:
On weekdays (Saturday frequency reductions would be drastically worse):
-would take 15 min service down to every 30 minutes during not peak hours
-30 minute routes would go to 60 minutes
-60 minutes would go to 90 minute frequencies (with 120+ frequencies on Saturdays).

Alternative Two, reduction of frequencies with additional skeletal Sunday service:
-Similar to alternative 1 with more cuts needed Monday - Saturday to free up hours for Sunday.  Saturday service would be cut severely more, weekday midday non-peak hours with reduced frequencies would be extended by an hour.

Alternative 3, Route alternative network running Monday-Sat:
-Routes would become more efficient by straightening the bus routes, would double up routes on high frequency corridors with high ridership.
-frequency reductions on all of the routes especially high ridership routes would be much less severe.
-Saturday cuts are much less severe with this alternative.
-Seattle commuter service would be significantly streamlined and altered for money saving purposes (less one seat rides) to save money while maintaining access.  North, East, and South county commuters would have a commuter feeder routes to CT and ST express buses serving park into Seattle.  Some of the South County connector routes would actually be new service.

That concludes the rundown of the alternatives.  Asking the board for question and approval to roll out publicly with outreach plan (even though the alternatives are now public since they were presented at the board meeting).

It is proposed that these cuts are implemented in the Feb 2012 service change.

The board moved forward with putting out the alternatives to the public, didn't have any questions about the proposals, and they gave statements on their initial thoughts to the initial plans.  All of the board comments were fairly benign and didn't dive into details of plans.

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