No More Money To C-Tran

by lewwaters

It seems every time we turn around, some government related entity is demanding we in the struggling middle class cough up more of what few dollars we have and give it to them. We are being asked to approve more tax to C-Tran, so they can maintain services we are told, pay a 5% entertainment tax so a marginal Class A baseball team will move to Vancouver and a have a shiny new stadium 70% paid for by taxpayers.

Soon we will be asked for yet another tax increase to fund Loot Rail maintenance and operation once they shove that down our throats, face tolls to cross the I-5 bridge, even before construction begins if they get their way and if Leavitt’s cartel gets their way, pay an additional $20 to register our cars to also fund Columbia River Crossing cronies.

Even though we have been mired in deep recession with double digit unemployment for over 2 years now, it seems there is no stopping of the picking our pockets by the elected ruling class. Feeding our families or keeping our homes is our problem, not theirs, apparently.

But, that sales tax increase to fund C-Tran is one I have long called for to be rejected, mostly to send a message to the ruling class over being lied to and denied the vote we were promised on funding Loot Rail maintenance and operation. While I maintain that notion, seeing the July 12, 2011 C-Tran Financial Update, I question why they need another penny.

View the report at C-Tran July Financial Update

While they claim to be under budget on sales tax revenues by some $257,000, they also claim to be over budget on fares by $294,000 and seem to have received a state operating grant of $348,000.

Their “Cash at May 31, 2011” is listed as $45,000,000. After budgeting expenses, including a “Special Needs Grant” of $952,000, they project “Remaining Cash Not Committed at end 2012” as $4,657,000.

I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like a struggling entity to me. They seem to be well in the black and nowhere near an austerity budget like you and I are struggling with.

As I have said before and even invited city council members to spend the day outside my home to verify for themselves, I live right on a bus route, a bus stop right outside my kitchen window. All day long I see empty or near empty buses rolling passed my house, occasionally stopping to let off one of the 2 or 3 passengers that might be inside a full-sized bus.

Why are we subsidizing running full sized buses all day long and into the night with little or no passenger use?

Granted, buses on other routes are not running as empty as those on this route are, but still, why do we need to give C-Tran more of our tax dollars to run any empty buses while we wonder where our kids’ next meal might be coming from?

The report also shows it cost an average of a little over $100 to operate the buses. How much higher is the actual cost to run full-size buses with few if any passengers paying fares?

I once jokingly said to Battle Ground city council member and C-Tran board member Bill Ganley that they could sell off many buses, lease a fleet of used Prius’ and still not fill those up on the route running by my house.

Given many of the questions raised recently about CRC and C-Tran, deeply embroiled with CRC, I cannot see any reason we should cough up another dime to this bus venture at this time.

If they need to trim service or employee benefits, or better yet reorganize to be a more efficient transportation entity, then let them do that before asking for another dime.

From Tim Leavitt’s cartel council to Steve Stuart and Marc Boldt on the county commission, it’s time they actually do the job they were elected to do.

It’s easy to be a leader during good times when money flows easily.

But, during lean times as we remain locked into, it take real leaders to stand up and do what is really needed, instead of further picking the pockets of the struggling middle class taxpayer.

I’m voting NO on C-Tran’s sales tax increase.

26 Responses to “No More Money To C-Tran”

  1. Lew, the liberals just don’t get it. The money train is out of fuel but they keep trying to move it anyway. We see that same problem thoughout the country. I think they’re either in denial about our fiscal bankruptcy, or they’re hoping that if they keep doing the things they’ve always done, money will magically appear.

    I like the idea of having a robust transit system, but I will not vote for any C-Tran budget increases or maintenance requests. The C-Tran board is filled with people who have no idea how to balance a budget, but then keep trying to push more ‘projects’ that need to be paid for.

    The stupidity never seems to wane either. Just a couple of days ago I heard on the radio that someone at the federal level wants to give incentives to large-format stores like Walmart and Krogers to open ‘small stores in “underserved” neighborhoods’. As usual, the request began with “it’s not fair to those who…”

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  2. I believe it’s all by design, Craig. They know we’re broke, but the more they stack on our backs, the more dependent we are upon government.

    We are rapidly becoming the socialist mecca communists have long desired for us to be.

    Soon, it may be us standing in a 3 block long line waiting for a loaf of bread at the store, as happened previously in the Soviet Union.

    Thing of it is, that too few are noticing, those calling for “shared sacrifice” are sacrificing their share.

    Only we are.

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  3. With a $45 million savings account in reserve, is there truly a need for even more $$? At the July meeting, it was explained that employee benefits are increasing like they do every year, and apparently many salaries as well.Few specifics.

    The CTRAN CEO also clarified that the law allows them to use CTRAN funds for any transit purpose including light rail. The proposed tax hike this November could also be used for light rail.

    At the June CTRAN meeting when the topic of a DISTRICTWIDE light/rapid transit vote in 2012 was raised, the Vancouver cartel of Bart Hansen, Larry Smith, and Tim Leavitt would not commit to a DISTRICTWIDE light rail/rapid transit vote. They suggested not discussing it further until after the November 2011 election. The only DISTRICTWIDE CTRAN vote that citizens can be assured of is the CTRAN vote on the ballot this November, 2011. That’s because in July 2012, CTRAN gains subdistrict power and can cut out voters in the areas where they don’t want citizens to have a say. According to Tim Schauer , a proponent of light rail and the CTRAN tax hike of Nov. 2011, it is highly likely that any future light rail vote would be a limited subdistrict.

    As recently as 2004, CTRAN votes were countywide. Then the district was gerrymandered down to win a tax hike in 2005. Gerrymandering the district down even further is not in the public interest, since CTRAN services are paid for by all who shop in most of Clark County via the sales tax and CTRAN services are available throughout most of Clark County. Oregon voters got to vote on light rail when it was first proposed there, and WA voters deserve a vote as well.

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  4. Don’t get me started.

    Hinton

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  5. If you click on the photo of the bus, it will make it larger. Then, you can see that the bush is almost if not empty. I’m believing there might have been one passenger as their was bicycle hanging on the front.

    I took the photo outside my house today at about 1:05 PM.

    I see them all day going in both directions, full-sized buses running all but empty.

    Not one more dime to C-Tran.

    It’s time for them to share in the sacrifice too.

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  6. I have to say Lew’s bus is at the end of the run heading towards Stockford Village near 99th and Hazel Dell Avenue. Really there is almost all of that bus run is mostly along St. Johns area, not around lew’s area. So that is why you see a lot of empty buses past you.

    But I can tell you more. There are other westside buses that are even BIGGER empty runs than your little #25 that are far longer in length and less people on them. And they have been warned repeatedly that if the bus system supporters that are screaming to keep that service, that if they DON’T get more riders on those runs, they WILL lose them.

    But the St. Johns run won’t ever be killed that runs past his place. Too many low income people in that area ride t before it hits his place heading south.

    I’ll read your PDF report Lew that you have listed. I may have future comment on that.

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  7. At a community meeting, I gave part of my presentation time to Heather Stuart (Steve’s wife). She’s being paid to push this tax increase. (I was speaking for free at the event). I’ve heard her pitch a few times – she talks about how much C-Trans USED TO GET. I suggested she instead quote how MANY people are served, what KINDS of people, and how BIG the ridership has increased. I said she should describe the benefits to the community. (I don’t think she cares for my suggestions.)

    Most people ARE WILLING to subsidiize some amount of public transportation for humanitarian reasons. Unfortunately, Marxist types argue that the public is ENTITLED to transportation. Then public employee unions get involved, and the whole thing loses its moral legitimacy.

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  8. It’s high time to cut the “Empty Bus Company” off the public teat. No more money for C-Tran.

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  9. Well if they are not going to tax the rich, sorry, I mean of course ‘The Employment Providers’ (I keep forgetting the latest buzz words), and the poor have no money, who else but the Middle Class is there left to tax?

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  10. If I have the chance to vote on either request by C-Tran…it’s a big NO from me, Lew. Most likely though…I won’t be able to vote on the LRT/BRT M&O ballot since I live outside city limits.

    Hopefully what I have posted in recent years (including links of interest) on the Columbian regarding light rail to Clark has opened the eyes of those who would blindly accept such a project.

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  11. Anything C-Tran related that I get to vote on gets the big N-O from me too, Goldie.

    As far as CRC goes, I hope someone opens their eyes and ears (you listening Jaime?) and calls for a Dept. of Justice investigation into them.

    What little has come out in the Willamette Week and Oregonian screams for an investigation.

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  12. Very true, Martin.

    Sorry for your comments not showing earlier, they got caught in my spam filter somehow. Weird as I haven’t changed any settings.

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  13. From all of my own investigation work as well and a lot of what I know has also come out about the CRC already, so nothing is surprising me anymore. Now my question to lew is, how does one go about attracting the department of justice? Remember the attempt by Mr. Pollard to call them for investigate the Sharma case?

    And what really eventually happened? from my own vantage point, a big fat zero. (but I also could be misinformed on that comment!)

    So guys, what will it take?

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  14. Oh, one more thing. I am holding my vote until all the information I have is gathered and I can understand the vote that is coming up in about three weeks. The ballot will be due on August 16th. I have my own private opinions about C-tran and the CRC, though I want to make an educated decision without horribly spewing a bunch of political trash without finding my own moral and truth on the subject.

    I do hope you all and those whom may not have posted but read the article, please check out all of the sources around town and come to your own conclusion. I received my voters guide last night and expect the ballot to be coming within the next few days. So please remember, VOTE!

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  15. For the record, the average C-Tran bus has 6.7 people in it of an average capacity of 57, only 12% full. No wonder they average fuel consumption is about equal to a car getting 22mpg at a cost of about five times of driving a car per passenger-mile.

    See: http://www.portlandfacts.com/top10bus.html

    And I recall that the first of a series of C-Tran tax increase votes is to be Nov 2011. Next is one vote for the toy train AND taking two lanes off of Forth Plain for exclusive bus use, perhaps in a carefully selected sub-district. Then there is another one after that being talked of for even more operating funding.

    The basic problem is that C-Tran is starting to ignore those who have no other transportation options and, instead try to reshape society to the tune of the crackpot theories of smart growth and new urbanism. The goal of these schemes is to reshape society to increase neighborhood density, make driving more difficult and expensive, discourage economical large stores in favor of high priced neighborhood stores.

    Twenty minute neighborhoods are one currently popular crackpot idea – make neighborhoods so dense that you have everything you need withing a twenty minute walk. Probably like Vancouver BC high rise district. They never tell you that high density is a main cause of unaffordable housing (actually most planners are too stupid to realize this)

    The idiocy of this transit agency path was nicely summed up by one expert as “attempting to attract yuppies out of their BMWs instead of low income people out of clunkers.”

    More about the short comings of smart growth at: http://www.portlandfacts.com/smart/smartgrowthlies.html
    and the rest of Portland Facts

    Thanks
    JK

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  16. I would like to add that only in my general opinion are there two bus runs in all of Ctran’s local bus runs that are anywhere NEAR full. One is the Mill plain section from Downtown Vancouver along MIll Plain Boulevard to Fishers Landing Transit Center and the other one is the fourth plain boulevard bus. All the other buses are hit and misses throughout the day and weekend.

    As someone who actually HAS to ride the bus because of medical reasons instead of driving, I can tell you that I would not mind seeing ctran restructure and offering bus service in demand hours when there is actually demand for service?

    I see a lot of buses like the #30 burton that can mostly be covered by the fourth plain or mill plain or #32 evergreen ~ andresen buses. The eastern section could be re~routed into an eastern corridor bus run that hooks into either Van Mall or Fisher’s Landing, similar to the city center buses over on the westside of town.

    And there are many other ideas? That is just one bus that I see running that could be more efficiently parsed out to other routes. I would also look into rerouting the hourly #2 Lincoln – Hazel Dell into other bus runs and possibly the #25 Fruit Valley in the city section #3?

    Those are just one of many examples??

    There is just so many other ideas on trying to cut service or restructure it to the demand that the bus serves? I cannot continue to speak to Lew’s continued consternation of a bus that simply is empty when it goes past his home. The best reason I can give is that run is one of the poorest income level bus runs in all of Clark County. They run that bus in his area and sends it on to Walmart and the 90th street strip malls so that people can buy groceries and other things.

    Lew, have you ever thought of giving C-tran a FOIA request to get the rider counts for that bus run? or all of the runs when they do bus counts?

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  17. 1) I believe in public transportation for humanitarian purposes.
    2) Technology could solve this problem: personal smartphones requesting service and processing fees combined with private taxis.
    3) Old, outdated big buses with public employee drivers and mechanics, and fixed routes is so out-of-date. It must be dismantled!

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  18. Martin,

    They do this for big companies here in Clark County, Portland and Seattle? Why can’t they do that here? Basically a vanpool idea, where they pick people up in a coordinated area and drop them off at the work location. If there is an emergency, the employer PAYS for the employee to go home in taxi.

    So it is really similar to your idea.

    You know, the local Human Agency has a similar idea? They pay for medicaid appointments to be done by taxis. They just make a call and a cab gives the person a ride to the appointment. Now its not some thing you just get, there is a process and requirements from what I remember and you probably have to economically qualify to this expensive service. And there are limited dollars TO that agency but it is a similar model to what you are suggesting.

    And I bet it would be a heck of a lot CHEAPER than moving less than big crowds of people on buses? And since I do ride Ctran, there are seriously only two areas of the City of Vancouver that need that physical level of busing! Most could be more effectively handed by a cheaper private cab to a central hub area.

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  19. Given that public transportation is the goal (and NOT a behind-the-back Urban Planner’s wetdream), everything could certainly be made to work if engineers were in charge, and for anybody who wants a ride, not just those in need.

    You would simply use your smartphone to signal your desire for a ride. The smartphone would check for drivers going to the same place then signal a pickup and easiest place to meet. The smartphone would even authenticate identities and process payment automatically.

    There are already Apps that are close to doing this, and with government oversight, it would be safe, efficient, environmentally friendly, and probably even fundamentally change how people treat transportation.

    I’m not a crank – I’m actually an expert is this area.

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  20. Gee. In other words, send a taxi for everyone who wants a ride rather than operate busses.

    Now all we need is a taxi company in Vancouver – wait, ours went out of business.

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  21. To me, the answer lies in an efficiently ran bus system. Surely C-Tran knows they have routes that draw few riders. Why continue running full sized buses mostly empty?

    Maybe a reroute is in order, or smaller vehicles for routes with few riders.

    I have no problem with humanitarian needs, until it becomes too wasteful. When it becomes such a large drain, changes of some sort are in order.

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  22. Jack, I’m talking about everyone in a car who chooses to participate.

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  23. Wait, there is a better answer?

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  24. We can probably hire limousines for everybody that rides the bus now for less money, Jeremy.

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  25. My comment was serious facetious? 🙂 Even I would love a ride in a limo! That might be also possible by how much we SPEND on the C-VAN riders. 35$ a trip, one way?

    I LOVE Martin’s idea. The reason why is that people get to where they want to go, they could choose who they could ride with or a cab/taxi/limo could also offer their services by a similar matching service.

    And its all done by a webservice! Not too hard to program via Amazon EC2 or some other web hoster with electronic backups that kick in if a network goes down.

    But serious aside here, I bet Martin has it all programmed in and done OR has an example to share with us that this has been done. His example reminds me fo the Seattle Rideshare idea up North.

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