Wally Wonders Why No editor, no publisher, you get what you get

October 13, 2014

Ferndale is less than 10 miles from a Border Crossing

Filed under: Local Issue — Tags: , , , — wally @ 5:59 pm

Capture radius map

You may not know it from this map showing 10 mile radius circles from the four Whatcom County border crossings, but trust the City of Ferndale when they say that Ferndale is located within 10 miles from a border crossing.  Ferndale must be within 10 miles of a Border Crossing or the City wouldn’t be able to ask voters for a penny/gallon Border Area gas tax and trust me, when it comes to grabbing money, the City of Ferndale knows how to cross the T’s and dot the I’s.

So it’s lucky that the City of Ferndale has a long narrow section in their city limits that reaches way up north past Grandview Rd, right up to the end of a dead end road that likely sees very few Ferndale vehicles and likely even less Canadian vehicles.   But that little spit of city limits is enough for the City to claim that they are legally entitled to this gas tax despite the fact that Ferndale is commonly known to be further than 10 miles from the border.

Realize that the City claiming eligibility to justify the Border Area Gas Tax doesn’t mean that just Canadians will be paying the tax, everyone who buy gas at the Pilot or likely the AM/PM on Grandview will be paying more at the pump.

Vote No on the Gas Tax, it’s just not right, and it’s just not right for the City of Ferndale to game the system.


April 28, 2010

What is WTA to do?

Filed under: Local Issue — Tags: , — wally @ 8:08 pm

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?

February 26, 2010


WTA is coming to the taxpayers for more money.  In their words, they say they need the increase to “maintain the existing amount of bus service or expand service.” My belief is that WTA is overspending it’s public funding right now, so I’d certainly hate to see them expand their overspending.

featureroutes WTA is not self supporting by a country mile and I see no indication that they are trying to move that direction.  Whether you use WTA or not, tax payers cover roughly 90% of WTA’s revenue, while actual riders only cover 10% for a service that they use.  For perspective, consider that the even the often maligned Lummi Island Ferry collects fares which cover half of their expenses.  WTA’s financing strategy is outrageously out of balance.

Expanding WTA service will only cost taxpayers more money because the routes with the highest ridership and therefore, most effective use of taxpayers money are already covered.  Additional routes will have less ridership and therefore be the most heavily subsidized routes.  WTA should be favoring the most ridden routes if they truly wish to both serve the public and be good stewards of our taxpayer dollars.

Our state and federal tax dollars also help prop up WTA. That’s right. While rider fares account for only about $2-$3 million per year towards operating expenses, we taxpayers are kicking in another $20 million or so for expenses and we are also paying another 5-6 million in state and federal taxes for capital projects like new buses and transit stations.

WTA is not an essential service in the same respect as Fire, Police, Medical.  I’d say that for the elderly and disabled, WTA’s Para Transit is leaning that direction, but in general though, not having bus service poses no threat to our immediate well being and there is no 911 option to have a bus dispatched to your home.  Yes, as much as WTA and many of their supporters would like us to believe, there are other ways to get around.   Scooter, friends, family, taxi, biking, walking and let’s face it, your car.  For many in Whatcom County a car in the driveway is way more essential than a bus that passes a mile away from your home.

snos WTA is not servicing the average person in Whatcom County.  Recently WTA conducted a survey which was to “measure the satisfaction of the general public and riders with services.” Yet the Herald article covering the survey failed to mention that half of the “general public” they surveyed live in Bellingham and almost half the riders of WTA were found to be WWU students.  If more money is to be sought for operating costs, WTA should look to those who are using their service.

WTA doesn’t have any publically stated goal of reducing their financial burden on the average Whatcom resident and they have no track record.  So, in a time when we are all taking a critical look at how we are spending our limited resources, WTA is asking us to dig into our pockets and pull out a  33% increase for them.

I am in no way opposed to WTA nor public transit systems in general, but my intention is to vote NO to this measure on April 27.

link to WTA budgets

January 11, 2010


Filed under: State Issue — Tags: , , , — wally @ 7:16 pm

push back no tax There is more than one way to balance our state’s budget.  It looks as if our Governor is favoring a tax increase.  I prefer spending cuts over more taxes. 

If you are of the same mind then why not Check out this video message or go straight to  the PUSH BACK NO TAX petition that is being promoted by the folks at the Evergreen Freedom Foundation.

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