C-Tran Proposition 1 Must Be Defeated

by lewwaters

Apparently oblivious to the elongated Great Recession we remain mired in, here comes C-Tran wanting more of our dwindling money. Proposition 1, appearing on our ballots in the November general election, will raise sales taxes to maintain current bus service, they claim. As I previously showed here, they aren’t exactly struggling to make ends meet, like many middle class taxpayers in Clark County are currently.

With a 24% increase in families earning less than $35K a year and the poverty rate in Clark County increasing to 11.8% in 2009 (the latest year reported), people in Clark County continue to struggle with lower wages and unemployment. We can ill afford more taxes, especially with so many tax and fee proposals staring us in the face.

I have long advocated a vote of NO on any measure concerning C-Tran to send a message to our elected officials, aka ‘ruling class,’ and maintain that position. But, along with sending them a message over lying to us and denying us a county-wide vote on light rail maintenance and operations, a look at how inefficiently C-Tran continues to be operated also calls for a NO vote for a few additional reasons.

Seeing public opinion unfavorable on the prospect of paying more taxes, Keep Clark County Moving PAC has launched a “Preserve Our Buses” webpage, complete with the usual dire circumstances that will befall the low income, senior citizens and the disabled that rely on bus service. (PDC Report on Keep Clark County Moving PAC contributors)

Of note in this warning of dire circumstances befalling us of we don’t dig deep and pony up more tax dollars, “Budgeted wage freeze for non-represented management and represented maintenance employees for 2010 and budgeted wage freeze for all employees through 2012. Union employees continue to receive steps.”

Part of what the tax increase goes for is to pay union employees while you go without. Where is the “shared sacrifice” we keep hearing we need to make?

Another point is how C-Tran has made bad spending decisions with our hard earned dollars they take from us. As seen in the following graph, supplied by C-Tran, ridership remains below what it was back in 1999.

Even with a decreased ridership, in 2008 as our economy continued the rapid downturn, C-Tran announced adding 12 Hybrid buses at a cost of $650,000 apiece (actually closer to $1 Million) instead of $450,000 for diesel buses. Those 12 hybrids each has a large battery that needs to be replaced every 6 years at a price of $34,000, plus labor and can only carry 35 passengers, instead of the 45 of other buses. The buses are rated at getting 1.6 mpg more than the diesel buses do.

Also confirmed to me by a retired Accounting Specialist at C-Tran from 1992-2008, “other costs associated with them, not only the sales tax, but while the buses are in production one of C-tran top training Mechanics has to be there and supervise the production…and all the federal requirements which include an inspection to certify that all parts are American made…plus one top mechanic has to go back to where they are produced to learn the new operations procedures, mechanical abilities, and PMS (planned maintenance service)….and all the legal ads that is federal required for federal money.”

This as our economy was rapidly heading south and obviously not about saving any money for the taxpayers in fuel costs or more efficient routes. From a July 2008 article appearing the Columbian, the effort seemed more about creating a Green Image, touting the buses as “fuel-saving” over a mere 1.6 mile per gallon increase in mileage, while being capable of carrying less passengers.

An earlier effort at “greening” the fleet back-fired as the use of bio-diesel during the winter caused several engine problems.

Click on photo to enlarge, 1 passenger. Taken Aug 23, 2011 7:30 PM

And John Q. Struggling Taxpayer is expected to just keep feeding the C-Tran kitty, even though as I showed earlier, empty buses drive past my home every single day, all day long. I’m sure the route by my home isn’t the only one seeing empty buses.

A December 2008 article, Plans to shape county’s transit future gain approval shows C-Tran has been salivating to get a hold of more of our money for some time for yet another expensive bus plan allegedly to lessen congestion, but in actuality will cause more of it. The Fourth Plain Boulevard “Bus Rapid Transit” system.

We’ll be asked to dig down and pony up more of our hard earned wages later for that, even though more cost effective measures could be implemented.

Expensive buses that offer little in return, carry less passengers, save very little fuel, a proposed BRT on Fourth Plain that might improve their “on-time” schedules by a mere 50 seconds or so, not to mention the pending Billions of tax dollars scheduled to go into CRC, Light Rail, Millions for a new stadium to house a Class A ball team, union contract negotiations ongoing, possible addition of a $20 fee to license our cars, almost $20 Million for the purchase of the building built by the Columbian that they were not able to afford, Millions more going to a waterfront project, while we are closing fire stations, laying off city employees and granting Millionaire developers Million Dollar tax abatements to build more high density population centers along the proposed light rail line, as was seen in both East Germany and the former Soviet Union, and you and I are expected to just cough up the money.

It is very apparent that we are just feeding a monster with an insatiable appetite.

Heather Stuart, treasurer of Keep Clark County Moving and wife of County Commissioner Steve Stuart who sits on the C-Tran Board says we that encourage a NO vote on Proposition 1 to “send a message” are using a “misguided approach” in making this a “political statement.”

Given the insatiable appetite of the C-Tran monster, the inefficient operating of C-Tran, the squandering our precious tax dollars and the fact that we have been continually lied to and manipulated by elected officials concerning C-Tran projects, the CRC and light rail, combined with the ever worsening economic conditions seen, I see it a not only a “misguided approach” to vote yes on Proposition 1, but downright foolhardy.

I hope you will join me in voting NO on Proposition 1 in the upcoming November election.

7 Comments to “C-Tran Proposition 1 Must Be Defeated”

  1. Correction: “Preserve Our Buses” link in your story is fueled by Keep Clark County Moving PAC, not CTRAN. Both CTRAN and “Preserve our Buses” emphasize service cuts if voters don’t approve the tax hike. At the March 5 CTRAN board retreat I attended, there was much discussion about how service cuts were key to moving people to vote for a tax hike. The tired old tactic of service cuts were threatened in 2004 and 2005 as well.
    CTRAN is very wealthy among taxing districts. CTRAN assets for the district exceeded its liabilities at December 31, 2010, by $114,751,751.
    Of this amount, $49,717,245 was available to meet public transit needs. This is more than enough to serve residents including elderly and disabled riders, without any tax hike, if the money is spent wisely. Remember, there are many elderly and disabled residents on fixed income who don’t use CTRAN that are struggling to stay in their homes and choose food, medicine, heat. CTRAN can easily adapt to live within their budget, and should be thankful for the vast $$ reserves they hold. There is no justifiable reason to ask for even more.

  2. I’ll be voting no and so will everybody else I know. It’s high time to send the ruling class a “message”. Let’s put the “Empty Bus Company” in it’s place.

  3. Thanks Margaret, it’s corrected.

    Me too, Jack.

  4. I will be voting Yes, If Lew Waters was handicapped , he would vote Yes too

  5. Actually suku, you are dead wrong. Maybe you should ask before deciding what I think, or would.

    I am diabetic and arthritic and suffer from gout from time to time. I am a lifetime member of Disabled American Veterans.

    And I still say this taxpayer rip-off must be defeated.

    I know some who are wheel chair bound and they agree with me.

    Stop letting yourself be played by the unscrupulous fatcats who pull the strings in local government.

  6. I see so many signs opposing prop 1 that use lies to sway opinions. Why must these opponents use such tactics as saying trimet is getting the money, its going to light rail, and they will make people who use the bridge pay 16 dollars a day in bridge tolls?

    All of these are false. As a struggling middle class person who also uses the buses regularly, I will gladly vote yes on 1 and be glad to pay a .02% tax increase to continue using public transportation. I know you want to continue driving your vehicles around and not have to pay for somebody elses transportation, but it seems to be inconsiderate to only think of yourself in this situation. If more people used the buses it certainly would decrease traffic, and it would decrease each persons carbon footprint as well. I don’t know if you believe we have an infinite source of oil, so I wont assume so, but I certainly don’t, and I would gladly pay 2 cents for every 10 dollars spent to increase my future children’s chances of growing up with relatively clean air and resource reserves still intact.

    Maybe that will give you another perspective on why somebody would support this bill other than your assumed mind manipulation by the “ruling class” that you give so much credit to for their power over the people.

    In your tenth paragraph, I think you meant to type “1.6 miles per gallon” rather than “1.6 gallons per mile”, by the way.

    So, in the end, I’ll reiterate that it is certainly not helping your cause to have so many laying and manipulative (and poorly formed) propaganda, in the form of signs and websites rallying for a no on prop 1. It seems like if it were really so clear cut and simple why somebody should vote no, they would be able to tell the truth. Until then I shall assume that they are simply trying to cover their own selfish interests.

  7. Apparently you missed the revelation that well over $50 Million is slated in the CRC for improvements to the Downtown Portland, Steel Bridge and to expand TriMet’s Ruby Junction Maintenance Facility in Gresham. https://lewwaters.wordpress.com/2012/10/17/columbian-ignores-appearance-of-corruption-surrounding-crc/

    Both are well outside the transportation area drawn for the CRC.

    I’m sure you will “gladly vote on 1” so the rest of us can continue to subsidize your travel. How nice of you to prefer that we pay your way and ours as well.

    The rest of your drivel has been shown time and again to be as bogus as CRC’s claims that light rail is for improving freight.

    Let us know if there is some other way you want us to wipe your ass, okay?

    You also, in your haste to appear knowledgeable on current events, missed that this post concerned last years election.

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