Wally Wonders Why

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What is WTA to do?

It looks like the people of Whatcom County have voted down WTA’s proposed 33% tax increase and as the last votes are being counted, the million dollar question is… is on Facebook of course.  Isn’t everything?

What should WTA cut if the transit tax does actually fail?

Facebook KGMI News/Talk 790

We would think that WTA would already have the answer to that question.  No, not the pouty, scary, angry answer.  I’m hoping for a reasoned, logical and well thought out answer about how to best meet the needs of Whatcom county with the money at their disposal.  You know if I thought that was what they had been doing all along, I might have actually voted for this increase.   But from reading this in the Herald today, I’m still not thinking that any real contingency plan has been in the works.

WTA is wasting no time planning for cuts. Its board will gather in a public meeting at 8 a.m. Friday, April 30, in County Council Chambers, 311 Grand Ave., to determine which cuts to present at a May 13 public hearing.

Read more: http://www.bellinghamherald.com

So then, is that what WTA is to do, gather more public opinion?  I put that in the waste of taxpayers money category because there has been so much public opinion on this subject lately that you’d have to be an idiot not to know what people are thinking.    People don’t want to be told by the drivers union and bus manufacturers that they need to foot the bill for an ever expanding bus system.  People like our bus system, but want WTA to provide the most service for the money they have.

And the formula for accomplishing that is simple and well known to WTA.  It is the opposite thought process that is apparently used when route expansion requests are submitted to WTA.  I found the process described by WTA’s Maureen McCarthy last July.

All requests are considered within the context of the overall system. Once a request has been determined as an unmet need, there are many factors by which we evaluate it. Questions we consider include ‘how crucial an unmet need is this?,’ ‘how many people will potentially benefit?,’ ‘how efficient would it be to meet this need within the existing system?’, ‘what would be the increased cost-per-new-rider based on the number of riders we could expect to attract?’

Read more: http://www.bellinghamherald.com

So by reversing the process, WTA should evaluate each route in the current system with the same criteria.

What needs will be unmet if a route is eliminated?

How crucial the unmet need will be if a route is eliminated?

How many people will be affected if the route is eliminated?

Considering the existing system how efficient is the route  that would be eliminated?

How would the routes elimination affect the cost per rider based on the number of riders effected?

And that leads us right to what WTA should do.  WTA should eliminate routes based on this evaluation until a stable system is predicted to run in budget.   Boom! Done!

Well, except WTA should update their Strategic Plan to incorporate budget projections and all the recent public opinion that has come available.   We don’t want the same hole to be dug again.  And while they are doing this wouldn’t it be nice if they would try some progressive (i.e. efficient) ideas for moving people instead of hitting every route with a gargantuan, fuel guzzling sledge hammer of a bus?

Updated: April 28, 2010 — 8:30 pm

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