C-TRAN Expenses Outpace National Inflation Rate

by lewwaters

Washington Policy Center, a non-partisan, public policy think tank based in Seattle recently completed a study of the costs of C-Tran that revealed some startling Key Facts. It is no secret that taxpayers that do not use C-Tran transportation pick up the bulk of the costs of operating the system, something especially Democrat legislators and elected officials keep justifying.

We heard it all during the 2011 C-Tran sales tax increase on how they needed more of our money or Granny and the handicapped would be left standing in the rain because there would be no buses. They got their tax increase and now want another this year to pay for operations and maintenance for forcing us to accept Portland light rail intruding into our community, while denying us another vote whether we even want it, fearing that once again we would defeat it at the polls.

TriMet/Metro, who operates Portland’s Public Transportation is nearing bankruptcy, their costs rising so high it is completely unsustainable. A large part of their extremely high cost is wages, benefits and pensions, some of the most lucrative in the country.

Seeing the troubles facing TriMet/Metro, it appears to be irresponsible that our own Public Transportation, C-Tran is following down the same path.

Among the Key Facts uncovered by Washington Policy Center;

• C-TRAN’s annual operating costs have more than doubled (112%) since 1996.
• C-TRAN employee compensation costs rose from $10.3 million in 1996 to $28.3 million in 2010, an increase of 174%.
• Inflation over the same time period was only 39%, which means C-TRAN officials increased employee compensation more than four times faster than the rate of inflation since 1996.
• C-TRAN’s share of wages on its total operating budget (78%) is now the highest of all urban transit agencies in Washington State.
• The large and rapid growth in C-TRAN’s operating expenses stands in stark contrast to the modest growth in average daily ridership, which has risen less than 6% since 1996.
• Residents living within the C-TRAN service area make an estimated 1.4 million person trips per day. This means C-TRAN serves only 1.6% of all daily person trip demand.
• Despite the poor growth in passenger demand, C-TRAN’s cumulative capital expenses have amounted to more than $100 million since 1996.

WPC Study here

I don’t know about you, but that is an awful lot of money going to serve such a small portion of our population, less than 2%, especially since we taxpayers, still struggling in our 4th straight year with double digit unemployment pick up some 80% of the expenses.

Disconcerting is seeing that C-Trans Employee compensation costs have grown at a rate four times that of the national inflation rate. Since 1996, through the recession of 2000 and into the Great Recession we remain mired in, while you and I were tightening our belts, cutting expenses to get by and making sacrifices, C-Tran officials negotiated with their unions retaining their increases in wages, benefits and pension, even though we see so many empty buses running around town throughout the day in some routes.

TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane laid it out in February 2012 when he told an audience, “that the employee union contract is ‘slowly strangling’ the agency and needs to be reset before it cripples the region’s public transit system.”

Of course, they have the one thing we do not have, yet. The expense of Light Rail.

Considering that it has been said that TriMet/Metro wants C-Tran to pay operations and maintenance, not just where their line extends into Clark County, but also on their side of the river, from the Terminus at the Expo Center as well, should C-Tran cave to TriMet/Metro, our expenses are bound to skyrocket, much more than what they currently are or that a .01% sales tax increase could cover.

TriMet/Metro has shown us a great formula for failure as they struggle to pay for what they wanted and we rejected. We must stand firm and demand that C-Tran operate within its means, not just use taxpayers as their personal ATM Machine.

C-Tran must stand up to the unions, demanding their members contribute their fair share by sacrificing along with the rest of us as we dig out of this mess we remain in.

C-Tran, Mayor Leavitt, Steve Stuart, Jim Moeller and others hell-bent to bailout TriMet/Metro with our tax dollars must be stopped. They may label light rail “the locally preferred alternative,” but they haven’t asked those of us who must pay for it for generations to come.

C-Tran expenses have grown at an unsustainable rate that the still struggling middle class cannot afford to keep subsidizing for such a small return and small ridership.

We still have to face the tolls, recent sales tax increase, possible license fee increase, gas tax increase, even a possible property or business tax increase, just to pay for the CRC designed bridge to carry light rail that we have not even been asked if we want it or to pay for it.

It is unconscionable that C-Tran continues increasing expenses on our backs while their services remain so underutilized.

Washington Policy Center has given us how C-Tran continues to spend, unchecked so far. It is up to us to not fall for their scare tactics again as they come to us for more money this election.

6 Comments to “C-TRAN Expenses Outpace National Inflation Rate”

  1. Thank you for reporting on this. I will be reading the full report very soon. C Tran is sitting on a lot of cash. This news is no surprise to me.

  2. I look forward to your assessment of the full report, Tiffany.

  3. This could… should… be a lot of trouble for Boldt.

  4. Yes it should, but it all depends on if anybody uses it.

    Time will tell.

  5. This is the disgusting display of perverted propaganda I have been watching for years now. I am sick of hearing how they will cut services and they need to be in an all fired hurry to bring the line over here with the bogus numbers, they admit are bogus, being such a crisis in the “near” future… only 2035! God forbid we actually waited 10 years to see if their numbers could be based on some sort of fact of some kind. It is as crooked as is the idea that a sitting director of the DOT should also be testifying AND reviewing for judgement the oversight of this SHAM. Vote for real change people! Vote for people who are not corrupt for once.

  6. It gets even better – light rail DOES NOT cause development!!

    So after people are bled dry by bridge tolls and tax increases, Vancouver’s political developer class will have to get additional taxpayer money before they will transform Vancouver into a Portland style ghetto.
    see: http://ti.org/antiplanner/?p=6702



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