April 10, 2007
User fees are good; Fares are fair
"State treasurer pushes tolls on I-90 and 520 bridges", calling for $2.7 of the estimated $4.4 billion cost of the new 520 to be paid through tolls.
Having the users pay the lion's share is the fairest and most sensible way to finance any transportation infrastructure. (Though the user share for the new 520 should be higher than 61% and not apply to the old I-90). More highways should be tolled, to finance improvements and for congestion relief, provided the tolling mechanism is reasonably efficient (e.g. FastTrak).
The same applies to Sound Transit. Currently, only 9% of Sounder Commuter Rail's budget (including amortized capital costs) is paid through the farebox. It's not clear how much of light rail's costs would be recovered at the farebox, but I could support light rail if it were financed primarily through rider fares. Isn't that only fair?
Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at April 10, 2007
07:53 AM | Email This
I'd like to see these break-outs...
Setting aside the rails and purchase of the trains, what percentage of the cost of operation are riders paying?
Same with bus riders;
Setting aside the roads and the purchase of the buses what percentage of the cost of operation are riders paying?
Drivers, setting aside the cost of the roads and puchase of their vehicle, are paying 100 percent of the costs, PLUS the costs that the riders of various transit modes aren't paying!
Hmmmm. How "fair" is that?
2. In a few months, we barbarians of Pierce County will be paying a toll to cross the Narrow's Bridge. Since we're stuck paying a toll, you won't find much sympathy down here for this 520 toll idea and the complaining of King County.
I am a veteran of the toll wars of the 70s.
I chose Evergreen Floating Bridge and the toll because it was easier and less out of the way. Besides, I wasn't about to try I-90. P.S. I lived closer to the Mercer Island Bridge than the Evergreen. So, I don't think the Murphy argument about people flipflopping to avoid the toll is accurate. But, we were paying a quarter in 60/70 dollars which is probably a dollar today.
Second, I don't know how he can justify a "profit" on the I90 (paid with federal dollars, too) new toll. I am not sure the second toll would be legal since the financing is already paid for.
I like the idea of a toll in that location. I didn't mind paying it back then.
I think I read that the state would have to get a special federal exception to put the toll on I-90 as well.
I like the idea of a toll on both bridges. While not everyone would go to I-90 to avoid the 520 toll, I think enough people would that it would make traffic on I-90 alot worse if there was no toll there. Plus, if the toll is on both bridges, the overall toll to cross Lake Washington can be lower (this is from someone who currently uses I-90 and rarely uses 520).
The entire West Coast has been getting a free ride on the backs of the East Coast taxpapers.
It's time for you bums and deadbeats to pay up like normal people.
I too remember the toll booths on 520 in the 70's. I also seem to remember that it practically took a war to get the State to remove the toll booths when payment for the bridge was finally completed. It seems to me that once politicians have a revenue source they tend to want to keep it.
7. Tolls?? I thought that roads were paid for by those hefty gas taxes we pay. Oh I forgot. The gas taxes pay for bike lanes.
Once again, the trolls make another grab at any loose change that may be laying around.
One day they'll tax the television viewing for the change that's in the sofa.
8. Oops, I just looked at my cable bill and see they already do that.
Congestion-priced tolling on both bridges, and at key choke-points on I-5 and I-405, would be simple and really smart. People who didn't need to drive then and there would not, because it would cost something. That would reduce congestion, and raise money from those who actually used the roads. An excellent idea. RFID chips are in use now in Maryland (among other places) in many cars. It works great.
That is why we NEED to vote NO NO in November. The ST2 and RTID model (regressive sales taxes going to unaccountable appointees who can scale back projects the voters thought they were going to get) is a HORRIBLE way to plan and fund transportation infrastructure upgrades.
There needs to be an accountable body that can prioritize among various megaproject concepts, and it should have revenue raising tools available to it like congestion-priced tolls. The status quo is a broken model. It looks like we are going to need to vote ST2/RTID down in order to prove it to Olympia. Sad, really.
Hmmm. If a governmental entity can condemn property that doesn't bring in as much tax revenue as it potentially could (Kelo v. New London), then maybe we should ask for a "bike lane" to be added onto any and all additional transportation projects going forward -- and then convert it to a general-purpose lane a couple months after it's put into service, and obviously not raising as much toll revenue.
Oops, that would be a case of government applying consistent standards. Forget that!
Regional transportation solutions benefit the entire region. Therefore, the entire region should pay for them, not just the people that "use" them.
The fact that people can commute across the lake benefits all of us - even if we don't use the bridge.
Tolls are BS.
Eric, there ain't enough money to go around. If we are wasting money on a new viaduct or a new 520, then that money is not used on Highway 2 or other needed projects. The last I-90 project/gold plating just killed all the other worthwhile projects and really sent the State deeper in the hole.
Why do I have to keep suffering because Seattle builds these white elephants that constantly need rebuilding and demolishing? Frankly, I am shocked that 520 has to be redone now.
First of all....the "nickel" package added onto the $.145 gas taxes were SUPPOSED to pay for these projects....but like most dems...not tax is large enough, last long enough, or is high enough to placate the special interests. TOLLS? HELL NO!
It's time Olympia got their priorities straight. No more social experiments...fix traffic. Number ONE priority....PERIOD!
You have the money....you just choose to spend it elsewhere. Sure, the gas tax goes to unidentified "transportation"...but they just use their other tax money on other issues instead of increasing the transportation fixes. ON top of that, they only add carpool lanes and sink money into mass transit that doesn't work.
If it's REALLY a priority and a safety issue...then EVERYONE should pay...just like any other safety issue. We don't charge user fees to call the police. There's no sliding scale for a call to the fire department.
When you place tolls on the roads....you will increase the already high cost of housing since houses closer to the business centers will be more valuable. Then what are you going to do?
Before I would agree to higher taxes or "user fees" on roads, bridges or (cough) light rail, I would want to a performance-based audit of the WADOT. Seems to me, that WADOT interests are with wage increases, building beatification and adding more people the payroll. On the other hand, WADOT fits the description of bureaucracy very nicely, don't you think?
*/sac off now
Placing a toll on the I-90 bridge? I-90 is a toll road through much if not all of Illinois.
As far as new roads go, making a new road (highway) toll road is a rather expedient way to build it. While living in Dallas & Austin, both areas built new roads (toll roads) and in both instances, they went up much faster than a standard gov't financed project.
The RFID toll tags are nice too. Don't really have to slow down to pay the toll. Your tolls end up being just another monthly bill.
The nice thing about toll roads... most times you can elect to take a different route.
I like the idea of having riders pay the full fare to ride Sound Transit. Right now, it's about $60K per rider per year subsidized for rides between Tacoma and Seattle. And that only takes a miniscule number of cars off the road. And that does not even count capital costs.
The train might be a nice place to relax, but it is actually slower, and delays one's commute intensely due to transportation at the endpoints of the train. For example, if you work in Belletown, you then have to catch a bus or ride a bike from the train station SODO. By the time you factor in increased time, travel to and from the endpoints, inflexibility of train schedules, etc., and then have to pay the full fare for the train, you'd never even consider rail. That's the dirty little secret that Sound Transit does not want the public to know.
Hit them in the pocket book. Even most liberals cave when the money has to come directly out of their own pockets.
'Elect to take a different route' - exactly. That's one killer reason why roads are superior to rail. Rail's so hyper-expensive that only a few routes can be built before even a hyper-indoctrinated Puget Sound pulic revolts against the cost. But there's a road network already in place, from the days before the indoctucrats gained exclusive control of the campuses and media.
And on that network, one can choose (get it, urbanites? Choose! More than just your abortion provider) your own routing, whether to dodge a speed trap, or traffic jam, or wreck caused by light rail, or a toll road. Sure, saving a couple of bucks at a toll booth might cost you an hour extra in traffic, but the choice is left with the driver, and not some unelected bureaucrat in an ivory tower.
11. Regional transportation solutions benefit the entire region. Therefore, the entire region should pay for them, not just the people that "use" them.
The fact that people can commute across the lake benefits all of us - even if we don't use the bridge.
No, the people who use the bridges benefit directly, and the region as a whole benefits indirectly -- but in exactly the same way, the people who'd have to pay the tolls would pay directly, and the region as a whole would end up paying indirectly.
If benefits naturally flow to the region from specific commuters, then the costs must naturally flow from the toll-payers to the region as well.
Tacoma Narrows issue said "good for state", but guess who gets to pay for 100% of it, plus the electricity they're using now, plus the$300+K for the Opening Extravaganca.
I say toll I90 and 520 (I never use either, but do use the bridge every day -- I was one of the 80% most effected who voted No to the new bridge).
What's good for the goose is good for the gander -- oh wait, they have reasonabley alternative routes and we don't, so we can be hung out to dry.
Sorry, but when I hear the teeth gnashing up in Seattle about the viaduct and those two bridges I get livid.
Can't get out of my toll, so toll 'em all!
Of course, if it comes to a vote, peninsula will be conveniently left out of the ballot, but will be expected to pay its part for at least half of Seattle's needs. Smug pricks...
User fees? Is that like user fees in State Parks? When fewer used the parks, did you see any reduction in the number of employees? No, we gave them a gun and raised their pay to become "Law Enforcement Officers"! Then along comes Rep Lynn Kessler who was too happy to put user fees out of their misery. This again, allows all taxpayers to pay and also to hire more employees to take care of all the users who have came back!
I personally like user fees. If I want to ride the bus or the train, or cross a new bridge, I should pay for my share of the cost. Here in Grays Harbor our tax subsidized bus fares are 50 cents from McClery to Ocean Shores. It cost about non-users about $5 to haul that rider from one end of the county to the other. Guess who pays for he and the one or two others doing the long lonesome ride?
I argued for at least a $1 fare and was told people would quit riding because it would cost too much money~!
You gotta love liberal thinking.
Just for everyone's clarification...TAXPAYERS pays $33,000 per year, for each full time rider on the Sounder Trains...TAXPAYERS pay $5.15 for every rider on the Tacoma Link...and the TAXPAYER shells out $2.85 for every person that rides a ST bus.
Taxpayer's payers pay out $20.00 for every Ferry rider...not all fares are FAIR!!!
And how much business (and taxes for that matter will the City of Seattle lose as a result of this. I for one have aloways had season tictets to the theater in Seattle. Parking is an astounding $8-10 bucks per event. Now another $10 to $12 for crossing a bridge we have already paid for, I90.
I have decided to cancel my season tickets and go to Issaquah's theater from now on.
Jokes on Nickels...He's a comedy in and of himself
23. Being a recently transplanted Oregonian I read the major Portland newspaper just to keep up with things. I noted an article today that was praising a new heavy rail commuter train that is planned to start in 2008. It runs basically between two suburban communities vs. suburbs to downtown. It is projected to cost $117 million in its first year (yeah right) and carry an estimated 1,500 passengers a day. Assuming the train runs 365 days a year and always carries 1,500 passengers, each one way trip will cost about $105. I wonder how many riders they would see if this was the fare? Yet for roads, almost all the cost is covered by car owners. This is why people like mass transit so much. A lot of other people are paying for their ride. Don't you wish you could cut a deal like this for your daily car commute?
I really do hope that the dems keep up this kind of insanity.
A few of the companies I do consulting for are talking very seriously right now about moving their operations outside the city. One is even seriously talking about moving their 100+ employees out of the the state entirely. All told, amongst 4 companies I've heard this from, it amounts to close to 600 employees that wouldn't be commuting to Seattle, buying their lunch, gas, etc.
Seattle wants to continue to make it harder and harder for the working folks from outside the city proper to commute. Tolls, less parking, less non-mass transit capacity. More bike lanes at the expense of cars. They think they can squeeze people onto buses and trains when the reality is that the transportation infrastructure won't be able to support this kind of capacity for decades.
Anything that weakens Seattle as a powerbase in Washington state is a good move in my book. I just wish we could divorce the rest of king county from city. (Something that could become more politically viable as Seattle loses jobs and tax base.)
Think it can't happen? It has in plenty of other cities - particularly in the midwest.
25. We are being threatened with toll roads down here. We were told that we may not get new funding for some of our highways if we don't support tolls. So let me see. We pay taxes, it goes to Austin, yet they won't send us OUR tax money back to deal with our roads unless we pay our MORE TAXES (which is what tolls are)? I do not support toll/tax roads. I will not drive on them, and will not support the politicians who favor them.
I'd be happy enough with setting up bridge only tolls here. You can still drive around Lake Washington, so for those who really drive it daily and are the biggest contributors to wear and tear (and the biggest benefactors of a new bridge or improvements), they are the ones actually paying. VERY FAIR.
As for the Sounder, I really wish they would just look at the cost in terms of the southern trains. There's absolutely no reason to continue the north trains because there's virtually no parking for multiteo and besides, bus service for the north end has always been better than the south end. I'd invite Stefan or any other critic to simply visit King Station at evening rush hour time and just make a note of how full every train south gets save possibly the 5:40. This means less buses, less congestion on I-5, and I assure you, if you check out King Station on a day of a home pro sports game or on the day of a scheduled protest, you'll really see just how filled the southbound trains can get!
I really love the analysis and mostly agree, I just think those criticizing the Sounder have got to be people who haven't been riding the south trains in the past 2 years.