TACOMA, Wash. - How valuable is your time? Tacoma's Jay Patterson says his time is worth $45 an hour. Yet he was wasting half that much time Monday waiting for a bus, without earning the paycheck.
Patterson stood on Commerce Street, watching bus after bus go by. But none of them were his. It's frustrating. And it's about to get worse.
Significant service cuts are coming soon to Pierce Transit. Pierce Transit's Jessyn Farrell says a 35 percent reduction in service will be implemented in two phases, beginning with a 20 percent cut in June, then another 15 percent service cut in October.
For Patterson, that means instead of waiting 30 minutes for a bus, he might find himself waiting for an hour and 30 minutes on some routes.
Farrell explains that Pierce Transit has experienced a decline in sales tax revenue since 2007.
The system has already gone through two rounds of layoffs and riders have already seen two fare increases. Administrators have postponed buying new buses. But altogether, it's still not enough to plug a $51 million budget gap.
The final blow came when February's attempt to raise sales taxes failed at the ballot box. Farrell says Pierce Transit already planned to cut service, but a recent fire at a Lakewood fueling station is forcing the cut implementation sooner.
Farrell estimates Pierce Transit cuts could result in 25 percent fewer riders. Farrell urges riders to attend a series of public meetings, saying Pierce Transit "needs to know how to implement the cuts."
More information about the meetings is on their website: piercetransit.org