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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Trimet's great disappearing act

During the 2003 session of the Oregon State Legislature, TriMet sought an increase in the regional payroll tax rate. In public testimony, TriMet General Manager Fred Hansen said, “TriMet’s proposed payroll tax increase will be used exclusively to provide new or enhanced transit service.”

The legislature approved TriMet’s request, and the payroll tax rate went up every January for ten straight years. By the end of 2014, TriMet had received $34.4 million in new payroll tax revenues attributable to rate increases. Yet during that same decade, the miles of transit service offered to patrons actually dropped by 14%, while the hours of service declined by 5%.

Like a magic show, TriMet tried to distract the audience by pointing to grand celebrations for the opening of the WES commuter rail line and the Green MAX line, both of which opened in 2009. But overall service levels were reduced five times in six years, the opposite of what was promised in 2003.

TriMet’s proposed budget for 2015-16 was released last week. It calls for “expanding service through the opening of the Portland-Milwaukie light rail line.” Once again, all the attention will be on new trains, while total service levels will still be far below the levels we had in 2003.
State legislators should be asking TriMet where all the money went. But sadly, no one in Salem cares about results.
Original Here

7 comments:

Jason McHuff said...

For starters, I don't think he mentions that the economy hasn't gone as planned and has affected things. Even with the tax rate increase, payroll tax revenues were lower than in 2010 than in 2009. Wage increases, new jobs, etc usually cause an increase even with the same rate.

Also, according to the proposed budget, vehicle hours are down only 3.5% and that does not fully include service restorations this and next fiscal years.

Jason McHuff said...

And raw vehicle miles and hours aren't necessarily a good comparison. For example, multiple bus lines no longer travel up the Portland Mall like they used to, but the rerouting of the Yellow Line as well as the addition of the Green Line has kept capacity and service.

Al M said...

That's complete bullshit Jason

Max said...

While the tax rate increased, the money didn't come in because of the recession. Typical cascade policy crap.

Al M said...

He's talking about the percentage increase in the tax, which was authorized by the legislature which further was supposed to go to expansion of the current system.

Well it didn't do that and he proves it.

You might not like John Charles but the facts speak for themself

Jason McHuff said...

That's complete bullshit Jason

What is exactly?

He's talking about the percentage increase in the tax

Yes he is. However, a percentage increase is useless if the amount that is taxed does not increase. Look at page 260 of the proposed budget and compare year 2009 with year 2010. The rate was increased but the revenue went down (when it should be rising in the first place due to job and wage increases).

Max said...

You have to read what CP says very carefully. They said (from your text above):

"the payroll tax rate went up every January for ten straight years."