Bottom line: 4.6 million over 2 years and Feds would pick up 100% match on either hybrid busses ($525,000 free!) or the cost difference between hybrids and diesels ($200,000 free!). Either way a good deal. This still needs to pass the Senate and get signed by the President. After that it will roughly negate half of the budget shortfall from high diesel prices. That's not counting the ~5% shortfall in projected occupational tax revenue. Bottom line: A promising step but not a pancea.
Okay, though I'm still waiting to hear back from some people, here's my take on the Metro Council meeting:
Tina Ward-Pugh asked us to speak on our proposal.
We got up and talked briefly on the "why" you might want to do this thing. Synopsis: have you looked at fuel prices lately?
Judith Green asked: "So does TARC actually support this proposal?"
We said: We can't answer for TARC.
Presenters: David Coyte, David Morse, Catherine "Katie" McBride.
The energy crisis is a long-term crisis. It is bad now. It is getting worse.
Approve a ballot initiative generating $40 million in additional funding to TARC, by 0.2% increase in the occupational tax.
2008 marks the 'tipping point' on commuter behavior. An IBM study conducted this year shows commuter response to gas prices:
Graphic source: WSJ - Riders Swamp Public Transit
Just got back from Metro Council Budget, where there was a lively debate on transit options. Download the entertaining audio files:
Three big transportation events occur on Monday June 16th:
1pm, TARC Board Room, Union Station: This is the board meeting where TARC is expected to vote in both the high rate cuts and the $2 million in cut service. They're busted and simply have no alternative. This is also where CART will formally ask TARC for a plan on how they would spend an additional source of revenue to increase operations.
5pm, Council Chambers, City Hall: They will hear a report from Barry Barker, executive director of TARC, about the fare increase and service cuts.
6pm, Downtown YMCA: Bicycling for Louisville will begin it's all-singing, all-dancing bicycle urban skills class. In cooperation with the YMCA, enrollment in this class also comes with four day passes to use the Y. Bicycling for Louisville has more information and a link to enroll online.
Ear X-Tacy's concert tonight by Louisville band My Morning Jacket will draw a capacity crowd of 500 people. The store's owner, John Timmons, suggests in this Courier Journal story that folks attending the show consider taking TARC or carpooling because parking will be scarce.
TARC Executive Director Barry Barker alluded to TARC busses leaving people standing at the curb due to full capacity. Suprising - I thought you could always fit in one more. Why is TARC so coy with its month-to-month ridership stats?
BB also says that the Lime Kiln route - #59 - is suddenly running with huge swarms of people on it, probably affluent east-end kids busing to school. If so, this is really good news! Those people have strong political connections, and can use them for Transit. I want these people on our side.
A coalition of local organizations is working on a ballot initiative to increase local funding for TARC. We're aiming for the big election this fall. CART will be sending a representative - most likely yours truly - to most of the TARC fare increase meetings in early June. It's a very exciting time.
Update: the C-J covered the meetings, and wrote an article about the idea.
Grim news from the Courier-Journal:
Just one month after TARC officials forecast dime increase in bus fares, the transit authority’s executive director said yesterday that skyrocketing diesel fuel prices require a bigger hit.
Barry Barker, TARC's executive director, said he’ll recommend the adult cash fare go up 25 cents, to $1.50 per ride on July 1, along with about $1 million in previously announced service cuts.
Before they were giving the community a choice:
Now it appears they're forced into:
In contrast, CART's position is this: When higher fuel prices are forcing more and more of our fair city's residents onto the public transportation system, we need to be expanding service, not cutting it.
CART is working on a plan to expand TARC service. Please contact us immediately through the "Contact Us" link above if you are willing to contribute knowledge or time to this campaign.