Tuesday, January 06, 2009

CATS' budget woes

CATS honcho John Muth gave a presentation to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission on Monday, detailing the most recent projections for budget cuts by the Charlotte Area Transit System. Here's a link to a pdf version of his PowerPoint.

If you went to the December Metropolitan Transit Commission meeting (of course you did, and it was the highlight of your holiday season) you've already seen Muth's PowerPoint presentation. But for the rest of us it was a good summation of what they're looking at.

Note in particular the graph on slide 3, showing the old 10-year projections of transit sales tax income, and the new 10-year projection, based on the most recent few months. Ouch!

Note also, on slide 7, that CATS has submitted $295 million in requests for funding from the Obama stimulus bill. Muth pointed out it's highly unlikely CATS will get $295 million. But if you never ask ...

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

RAISE THE FARES. No property tax increases to pay for a system that is not self-sustaining due to local government's unwillingness to ask users of the system to pay for its operation.

Anonymous said...

It's OK Unobserver just pretend no one warned you about this. A pretense to another property tax increase to help finance a choo choo that does neither reduce pollution or congestion. It's all about sustainable growth. Stop the free loaders riding for free and raise the fares.

Anonymous said...

What in the h--- ever happened to the USERS' paying? Good heavens ,the long suffering taxpayers can't be everything to everybody. As for the &^^%%^*()-0 stimulus, what suckers get the bills???????Contrary to what some seem to think THERE IS NO FREE LUNCH, MAYBE TO THE FREELOADERS, BUT THE SAME SUCKERS {THE ONES ALREADY PAYING ALL THE TAXES} ALWAYS GET THE TAB!

Larry said...

Hey this is what we were trying to tell you last year.

Even without a downturn or the fuel prices going up the numbers did not make sense and this was going to happen in the next ten years anyway.

Go to www.CharlotteLightRail.com and see how you voted yourself new taxes on your property by listening to the elected officials, center city partners, the big banks and the big businesses here in Charlotte.

Anonymous said...

Although public transit in every city in America loses money,

I agree with the concensus here (for a change). Raise parking rates Uptown, reduce onstreet spaces, add bike lanes, and make driving a pain. Raise the rates slightly and the system may come a little closer serving its purpose.

J said...

I'm a transit user, and can think of several things CATS can do:

1) Scrap the "honor system" - install turnstiles at the train station and make people prove they have paid the fare to ride, just like they do on the buses.

2) Develop a strategy that includes building transportation options other than those going downtown to work. Every dollar CATS gets right now is spent on downtown work commuters, no one else. The reason the system isn't reducing pollution is that - gasp - people move from place to place at times OTHER than morning & afternoon rush, and - gasp - other locations besides in and out of downtown, and these other times & places are getting service cuts.

3) Be transparent about processes. I'm sure CATS is just like every other government function - if something internal to CATS needs to be improved, it takes 47 forms, 7 layers of management approvals and 5 times the amount of time that it should to correct it. If that's not so, show us how this government function isn't wasting time and money like every other government function does.

Anonymous said...

and make driving a pain - Just what we need - Govt forcing people to ride the choo choo. That's like putting a gun to someones head. Anyone who thinks like this is as scary as Mary Newsome, then again you might be her? In case you haven't noticed, driving is a pain around here. I prefer a country where we have a choice - Chairman Mao would be proud of you Comrade.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure I read that they are mainly just cutting some projects, routes and employees. It doesn't say anything about increasing taxes or the world coming to an end because the light rail is going to slam into your house, so don't freak out. I do agree with putting in the turnstiles like most rail systems.

Anonymous said...

Guess what folks -- the "fare zones" city council stampeded to implement last night are basically an admission that yet again CATS' projections were wrong -- we are basically trying to retroactively implement a gated system on the cheap, with paint.

But more broadly the $9.5b. transit plan is now shown to have been the complete and utter fraud some of us always held it was. It simply cannot be built and operated on half-cent revenue -- never could've been.

The only responsible thing to do is scale back -- perhaps extend the South line to NoDa and declare victory, running all the way to UNCC for $1b. never made a lick of sense. Nuke the even dumber North heavy rail and replace it with a cheaper, more effective and perhaps federally funded BRT/HOT option.

And slap the next silly person who says "streetcars" out loud.

JAT

Anonymous said...

Its interesting that the 3 main sources of income for CATS are taxes, taxes, and taxes. Its interesting that fares even though they are better than projections aren't a major source of their funding. Like the others have said, it would be great if the transit paid for itself. Thats' asking for way too much.

Anonymous said...

I think they should raise the fares if they have to. I am saying this and i ride the bus, I have rode it since arriving here in 2001. I think they should stop including a transfer in the base fare, a lot of other cities such as Philly and others make you pay for a transfer so why not here? Maybe something like 50 cents or so which would essentialy make the fare to two dollars, this would be a fair amount to pay for continued service. It still would be cheaper than operating a car for a week and paying for parking and other costs. And also the fare zones they have been talking about are a great idea, to many people are riding the blue line for free, I mean come on it is only a $1.50 for petes sake pay the darn fare! And fix the transfer problems were you can ride the bus get transfer and ride the lynx then get off and ride a bus and the transit center, I mean you just got three rides for 1.50 that is just not right

Anonymous said...

You mean the half cent isn't going to be enough to run the things? But all the intelligent sophisticates laughed at the naysayers and rubes who made that claim during the repeal campaign! Why, they told us that if the transit tax were repealed it would result in cutbacks of bus service and tax increases.

I can hardly believe that that fine group of clued-in visionaries and urban sophisticates could have gotten it so wrong! Nope. Something here must be the fault to the rubes and naysayers. The visionheads are never wrong.

Anonymous said...

It's too bad we who are "cavemen" don't get to use our clubs on those who pooh-poohed us back in 2007, like Kevin Siers, Mary Newsom, Pat McCrory, Ron Tober, etc. Politicians and media-types who blatantly lie about things, like so many we have around here, should be tarred and feathered when their assertions are eventually proven wrong as the rest of us said they would be.

barkomomma said...

And they still won't even consider putting advertising on the sides of buses like World-Class New York does because they want to keep their "branding?" Or that it's too tacky?

Puh-lease.

James Willamor said...

"What in the h--- ever happened to the USERS' paying?"

I agree - we need toll roads NOW. Five bucks each way on 77, 85, 49, Independence, 485, Albemarle, etc...

Also, if somebody breaks into your house, you should have to pay a tax over the phone to 911 before anybody is dispatched. I never use the police, why should my tax money pay for them?

Oh wait, maybe because I actually enjoy civilization. Silly me.

Anonymous said...

Bad logic there, James. Roads are paid for in large part by gasoline taxes, which are paid by those who drive. Ergo, roads are mostly paid for by those who use them. If you don't drive, your contribution to the roads is minor; but that's acceptable, because you do make use of roads even if you don't drive, by dint of the fact that much of what you consume is delivered via the roads. As for police, we all pay for their service through our property taxes.

Meanwhile, the light rail is paid for mostly through a sales tax and (soon) property taxes, even by those who do not and will never use the light rail. Fares collected represent a tiny fraction of what it costs to build and operate the train. And the light rail does not reduce congestion; it does not reduce pollution; and it does not deliver goods as roads and conventional rail do. All it is is a giant sinkhole into which tax dollars are poured in the name of a social engineering product.

I don't expect anyone who supports the light rail to be a big fan of common sense or logic, because the light rail does not make sense, nor is it logical. I am getting really tired of the moral equivalence tactics used by light rail supporters, because there is no thought there: Simply greed and stupidity.

Rick said...

Here's the funny thing about this.

While the south line has experienced ridership approaching double the initial estimates, it has only taken a less than 10% dip in the transit tax and other revenues to throw the whole plan into turmoil.

Still there are people like Anon 03:47 who naively think if only a few more people would ride the train that everything would be alright.

Newsflash...

IT WAS EXACTLY THIS TYPE OF FINANCIAL FRAGILITY THAT THE TAX REPEAL EFFORT WARNED YOU ABOUT.

The whole plan was a house of cards from the beginning and ridership on the train can't save it.

To those who voted to keep the tax thinking it would prevent further tax increases, or prevent service cuts, or maybe get you a streetcar, maybe next time someone tells you something is to good to be true, you'll believe them.

Rick said...

PS...

Will one of you pro-transit zealots please call the people at CATS racists for suggesting cuts to the routes they are looking to eliminate.

Don Reid, Jim Puckett and anyone who suggested any sort of cost control at CATS had to endure that kind of ridiculous abuse when they suggested cutting back on these exact same low performing routes last year.

silly person said...

Streetcars

Anonymous said...

[slap]