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Comments on What the Devil won't tell you

Subsidy express: Who gets a lift, and who does Sun Tran take for a ride?

Myths continue to abound about bus strike and who can do what to whom

So how badly bloated is Sun Tran's budget with hard-earned tax dollars to give people (aka unfortunately necessary collateral damage) a lift? I'm about to give you, dear readers, news involving Sun Tran: Hard figures that tell a story that may shock and amaze you involving which riders are really subsidized by taxpayers.
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7 comments on this story

1
1770 comments
Sep 9, 2015, 9:47 am
-0 +2

I’m going to call bullshit on the numbers concerning subsidies of express routes. I’ve ridden those buses before, I’ve seen them. They only run during peak hours, and they’re often standing-room-only. Additionally, I can’t remember the exact figure, but the cost to ride was more than the standard-fare at the time. So, if the numbers in this story are indeed true then that is indicative of some gross mismanagement of money somewhere.

2
556 comments
Sep 9, 2015, 10:27 am
-0 +3

@Bret Linden,

You know how the Internet works. You can click on the link to Sun Tran’s report, where the per-passenger subsidy is clearly laid out for each route.

3
1770 comments
Sep 9, 2015, 12:17 pm
-0 +1

@Dylan Smith

Oh, well, if it is on the internet then it has to be true, right?

Look, no one in the world is ever going to get me to believe that one bus packed to the gills with folks paying a little more than standard fare requires more subsidy than a half-full bus where half of those people didn’t pay the full fare. The math just doesn’t work. It just doesn’t.

4
2 comments
Sep 10, 2015, 6:48 am
-0 +0

I won’t comment on the details of differing subsidies, but I do support the bus system (and other types of mass transit) since it provides benefits to the community at large, not just those actually using it.

However, I do believe that different professions have different natural caps on what someone engaged in that profession should expect to earn. I’ve driven large trucks for a living in the past, so I know what sort of skill level is required. And it seems to me that bus drivers making more than the median income in a city are making enough. Cost of living increases, sure. But just because you’ve hit the top pay for your job does not mean you are automatically entitled to earn more. And as someone who pays out of pocket for health insurance, I would certainly count paid health care as part of my salary.

One of the arguments for raises the union has mentioned is the assaults experienced by a few drivers. Are they implying that if they made more money assaults would be okay? If bus drivers are experiencing a statistically high number of assaults that is a law enforcement problem, not a salary problem!

5
1770 comments
Sep 10, 2015, 8:02 am
-1 +5

Just as this community wants to have corrupt and incompetent leaders, and they want to spend a quarter of their day stuck in traffic because a crosstown freeway would “make them like Phoenix”, I think many in this city want to keep Tucson a low-wage city. That’s why unions, and anyone else trying to financially better their situation, are vilified and told to just “get back to work because you make more than me”.

Has it ever occurred to anyone that raising the median income for this town helps us all?

6
1 comments
Sep 10, 2015, 12:22 pm
-2 +1

“4th best transit service” (LOL, by the way - the service still sucks) or a “cross town freeway” does nothing to overcome triple digit heat with 90% humidity for five months out of the year or - worse still - an impending water shortage for folks considering relocating their businesses here. This city (and indeed the state) has always lagged in economic terms due to environmental factors…So this note that you keep hitting about workers in Tucson needing to “person up” and demand higher wages is entirely unrealistic. Tucson - and Arizona - is and always will be an “acquired taste.”

On top of this basic economic environmental constraint, the drivers are arm’s length government employees. Why was this necessary? Because not having an arms’ length arrangement would have made the transit system ineligible to receive Federal grant monies. So not having PTM in the mix would have made the service even more expensive for the city.

The Teamsters could have continued to work while at the negotiating table. The fact that they didn’t and selected the hottest time of year to strike indicates that they were interested more in making a statement than in actually attempting to resolve the issue. And Tom Hock is no choir boy. You’ve reminded us that negotiations with Teamsters are a contact sport….The Teamsters are presented with someone who is as much of an asshole as they are, and you complain that Hock’s actions are unfair?

To show you I’m a moderate, and certainly not a Republican, I would support a higher city sales tax to cover the costs of the transit system, if it meant booting both PTM and the Teamsters. These are outside organizations (“Local” 104 is based in Phoenix) that have very little stake in our community. They are wrecking people’s opportunities.

The mayor and council are doing what they can but I don’t think allowing batshit crazy Republicans to run the city after November is the answer. If anything, a Republican majority would make things worse. So the implied threat the Teamsters are making is self-destructive and they know it. On the other hand, maybe they should withhold their support during the election. It would utterly derail much of the good the city has done but at least it would take the Teamsters out of the equation…Though I’m sure PTM would become their new heroes, so that would be only a half win, in my book.

7
1 comments
Sep 10, 2015, 1:43 pm
-0 +2

@Bret Linden

Well you need to know that more than 29 buses are dedicated exclusively to the express bus service. They can never be used in regular route service and are part of the RTA expansion that you the citizen voted for. Do you think 35+ $500,000 dedicated buses can not run the cost per rider up! Those express buses sit unused except for those express routes! They are protected from the urine, vomit, beer spills, graffiti, etched windows, torn seats with gum on them etc! What exactly do you think that exclusive use adds to the cost of express routes?

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