Ferry Gerry?

Thursday’s Kitsap Sun detailed some of the elements in Kitsap Transit’s hopes to change the transit district size. OK, so there’s some element of fixing its boundaries to reflect the agency serves. But Richard Hayes, executive director of the agency, comes forward with no hesitation in saying he hopes the changes will help the agency get approval from voters in February for a passenger-only ferry system financed by a three-tenths of one-cent sales tax increase.

Never mind that outside the district the sales tax will actually go down. Never mind that people in those excluded areas will still get Access service and rideshare and vanpool programs. I got no e-mail today about that. I also got nothing about the fact that those residents probably still do most of their shopping in the areas they’ll pay the higher sales tax.

What I got e-mails about today was “gerrymandering.”

Any thoughts?

18 thoughts on “Ferry Gerry?

  1. Yes, one or two.
    First…what is ‘gerrymandering’?
    If I were unable to drive, I would buy a home purposely somewhere on a bus route in order to stay independent.
    The other programs you mention are fine for what they are…and for what they do. None give the independence of the city bus schedule.
    I don’t know why you haven’t gotten a slew of protests over the proposed bus route change.
    How many regular bus riders will be affected by the change?
    Are most elderly and afraid to complain?

  2. Looking at the map, it appears Kitsap Transit has eliminated most of the voting folks living in areas with the least interest in using a foot ferry into Seattle…without regard for the regular bus riders without the bus service they depend on.
    No foot ferry to Seattle is worth that…imo.

  3. Sharon, I’m sorry to keep butting heads with you however, please take a closer look at the map. Someone living on Provost Rd may work in Seattle. Its a six mile drive to the JC Penneys parking garage then a walk to the fast ferry. So there may be people with a big interest in this vote. But they won’t get the chance if this redistricting takes place.

  4. Just another example of Dick Hayes trying to rule the world. How many Costco’s, Home Depots or other major stores are in the areas that would not get a chance to vote? The people in these areas will still have to pay the higher sales tax when shopping at a major retailer or buying a new car. They just won’t be able to have a say in whether or not their taxes go up.

  5. Frank, I did take a closer look at the map. Of course it is possible folks out – anywhere – would need and vote for the foot ferry… and they should have the chance to vote on it.
    It seems wrong though, to pull bus transportation away from folks who currently have and need it in order to provide a foot ferry to Seattle.
    Butting heads? I call it freedom. I am glad I live in a country having the freedom to state my views and will fight to the end to preserve your right to disagree.

  6. Steve, I have read KT’s plan for Passenger Only Ferry service, read your article on Tuesday, and personally spoken about the POF plan with Dick earlier this summer. Where does it say that bus transportation service will be pulled to anyone in the county? The KT POF plan can be found here: http://www.kitsaptransit.org/Board/DraftPOFPlan_Exhibits&Attachments.pdf .

    Will anyone stating that bus service will be pulled from any routes on KT’s current system with POF please help me find out where it is stated? Thanks! Carlos

  7. Now that the situation is explained, I withdraw my objections, commend transit and look forward to my first fast, foot ferry ride from Bremerton to Seattle.
    I had not known there were no transit routes in the area of planned exclusion and that no one will be inconvenienced by the official exclusion by transit.

  8. Sharon, no change in Kitsap Transit service would occur.

    You misunderstand the nature of the decision the Kitsap Transit board of commissioners will make.

    Routed bus service does not exist in those areas that will be removed from the district, but Access, worker-driver, and van pool services do exist — and will continue to exist.

    The effect would be to provide services outside the new boundaries of the transit district, but not to allow residents of those outlying areas to vote on the passenger-only ferry (POF) tax increase.

    Of course, everyone will be allowed to use the POF service, no matter where they live.

    But even with everyone allowed to use the POF service, there are so few people who want to use it that the taxpayers will be paying roughly $8,000 per year per passenger.

    I don’t believe any reasonable person would pay so much to provide a service to so few, and I don’t think the Kitsap Transit board of commissioners believes it either. That’s why they want to take the vote away from more than 20,000 people. They hope the people who are allowed to vote include a slim majority who won’t even look to see what the cost per passenger to us all would be.

  9. Bob, how do you come with that figure of $8,000 per year per person? How do come up with a single passenger and spread it over a year? Do you take the annual projection of riders, divide by 365, then divide the total annual subsidy by 365, then divide that by the number of daily riders, then multiply that number by 365?

  10. Steven, it’s no longer as easy as it was in April 2006, when the board briefing packet for the April 18 meeting contained the projected numbers of riders for each location. They removed that information from their later materials that they used when providing an opportunity for public comment.

    Their April projections were based on operating regularly Monday through Friday all year round. That’s 5 days X 52 weeks = 260 days a year.

    The roundtrip passengers projected at each of 3 locations were:
    Kingston — 400
    Bremerton — 450
    Southworth — 425

    The numbers in “Workshop Attachment C: Appendix A — Operating Plans by Port” in that April 18 packet show that it’s a five-day a week operation.

    The numbers of passengers are also displayed as double the above numbers — in other words, counting them going and coming.

    The total passengers per year are displayed as:
    Kingston — 208,000
    Bremerton — 234,000
    Southworth — 221,000

    Divide those totals by 2 to get the number of roundtrips, then divide by the projected number of roundtrips per day to get the number of days. For example, for Bremerton:
    234,000 / 2 = 117,000
    117,000 / 450 = 260 (days per year) [And, 260 / 5 = 52 weeks a year, in other words, five days a week service, Mon.–Fri. all year round is the basis for their projected ridership.]

    Since this is a commuter service, and since commuters ordinarily make roundtrips to and from home and work, the number of people riding the new POF service would be the same as the number of roundtrips.

    Kitsap Transit now collects about $28 million from their 0.8 percent sales tax.

    Divide $28 million by 8 to find out what 0.1 would collect, then multiply that result by 3 to see what 0.3 percent would collect:
    $28 million / 8 = $3.5 million.
    $3.5 million X 3 = $10.5 million.

    With a projected total of 1275 roundtrip passengers per day, that works out to $8,235 dollars per year per passenger:
    $10.5 million / 1275 = $8,235.29.

    If you want to take into account the fact that not all the new tax revenue would be used to pay for the new POF service, you could lower the total subsidy per passenger on the new ones — by moving part of the new money over to the existing Port Orchard to Bremerton foot ferries.

    According to their plan, they would use roughly $1 million of the new $10.5 million to pay for the existing Port Orchard to Bremerton ferry, which is now subsidized with funds from their existing 0.8 percent sales tax. (The $1 million from the existing 0.8 percent sales tax that is now spent on that ferry service would then be available for land transit purposes.)

    That would leave roughly $9.5 million for the new POF service.

    Divide that total by the total number of roundtrips per day to find what the approximate annual subsidy per passenger on the new POF service would be, if they can meet their projections:
    $9.5 million / 1275 = $7451

    Then, ask yourself if they can conceivably meet their projected ridership anytime soon. The private ferry operators didn’t come close to that total. And, Kitsap Transit now says they cannot begin Southworth operations soon.

    I figure an approximation of $8,000 per year per passenger is a fair estimate of the cost to taxpayers for what they get by paying the new tax — namely, 1275 people per day on the new POF service.

    With the information Kitsap Transit now makes public, you can do the same sort of arithmetic by taking what they project as their revenue from fares and dividing by the fare per roundtrip to get an approximation of their projected ridership.

  11. Good math.

    Extending that out, then, if a commuter goes 52 weeks at a rate of $9 per round trip, that ends up being $2,340 the commuter spends. Anyone care to poke holes in mine or Bob’s numbers?

  12. Steven, at least for now, you would need to express the commuters’ annual cost as a range from $1820 to $2340. The projected roundtrip fare would be somewhere in the range of $7 to $9.

  13. Bob’s math is good. Unfortunately, the basis for the calculations is incorrect. Here’s why:

    you have to divide the tax dollars collected into capital (buying boats and improving facilities) and operating costs. To quote from the KT plan linked in a previous post by Carlos,
    “Fares, over time, should cover 60% of operations funding across the entire
    schedule. It is our goal that fares cover 95-100% of operations costs on full, rushhour
    boats, again assuming 25% of seats filled at the higher business-class fare.”

    If you believe that buying boats that have a 30-year life benefit only 1200 people, that is fine, but not entirely accurate. It is worth taking the time to review the Aug 2006 KT document and see where the money is going.

    FULL DISCLOSURE – I am in year 12 of commuting so have a personal stake in the argument.

    First, not all of the money in Bob’s calculation goes directly to POF. The expansion of Park and Ride lots benefits all sorts of people who use those lots. Some may ride POF, some many not.

    Where subsidies come in is in operating costs, and it is there where you have to perform the calculation. Please note that a full-time commuter will carry his/her own weight and that the operating subsidy extends to recreational riders (there is probably a better term, my brain can’t find it) on runs that aren’t full.

    Page 34 of the KT plan reveals the leverage of that $8m. Six years of collecting it yields 80+ million in capital purchases, not a bad investment return to improve the transportation system of Kitsap County.

    The inherent problem into taking a simple view of the $8M into 1200 round-trips is that it does not take into account the long-term nature of this program and the trade-offs presented in the KT document. Start-up costs are high in any such endeavor. The question one has to answer concerns the long-term view of ridership growth being correct. I believe it is, given the population growth of Kitsap and the slow constipation of highways in King County makes a 30-min boat ride one heck of a lot more pleasant than 45 minutes in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

    If you extrapolate ridership out 5 years and divide the money over ridership then (when the majority of initial capital investment is complete), that is a much fairer view of the subsidy per passenger.

    Steve, a great thread, again. Keep on blogging!

  14. Both capital and operating expenditures would come from the tax revenue, so it is utterly wrong to ignore capital expenditures when calculating the subsidy per rider.

    The KT plan states that all capital expenditures would come from tax revenue and none from fare revenue. Fares would pay only a part of operating expenditures.

    The number of riders per year is the only basis for determining how much of a subsidy is paid by the taxpayers for each rider.

    The capital expenditures would largely be made by borrowing the funds and paying them back over a long period of time, so it is incorrect to ignore the capital expenditures based on the expected life of the boats purchased. Those capital expenditures aren’t all done and paid for in the first few years.

    The new tax revenue can only be used for POF service under WA law. The total collected is in fact the cost paid by our residents for what they get that they don’t already have. As I noted in my comment above, you could lower the calculated subsidy by noting the fact that KT would be able to use money it now has for things other than the PO to Bremerton ferry. But, it is still roughly $8,000 per year.

    My way is correct, and Don’s is incorrect — plain and simple.

  15. Bob

    I disagree with you – you are using a snapshot of one year, and should take into account the useful life of the assets bought. That is the point I am trying to make. I do appreciate the respectful tone!!

  16. There is one key error in Bob’s computation. He is considering the large capital costs of establishing a foot ferry program as a cost to be appreciated in one year. This is a fundementally poor assessment. The terminals and boats neccessary aren’t going to disappear after 52 weeks; they are going to sustain the program for many more years then that. This is why accountants use depreciation when factoring large capital costs over time.

  17. I obviously failed to get my point across in my detailed description of the arithmetic used in arriving at an estimate of the cost to Kitsap taxpayers per passenger.

    While my calculation doesn’t present a “moving picture,” I am not including all capital costs in the early years and ignoring the length of time in which those costs are paid via debt service. Instead, I am offering an estimate of the cost per passenger per year once the operations are up and running (roughly the second or third year of operations, depending on how long it takes to get Southworth going, if they get it going at all). And, I am saying that future years would involve similar costs per passenger because of the planned expansion of services as tax revenue becomes available to fund that expansion.

    I am not even including all the capital costs. A substantial part of the tax revenue for capital costs would come from Uncle Sam.

    Another substantial part would come from bonds to be retired over the first 20 years or so, and, as I noted before, I am not including that $20-25 million in one year as though it isn’t being paid back over time. I am instead including the annual debt service amount as part of the cost of each year’s service.

    I am simply taking the annual amount of the sales tax collected in Kitsap and dividing that by the projected number of passengers. In other words, I’m estimating what we would pay for what we would get in POF service.

    For those who believe that the cost would go down substantially in later years, I ask you to consider at least two things: (1)the tax revenue goes up each year, never down as initial costs are paid; and (2)the planned service would absorb all increased tax revenue by adding runs to the schedule so that the cost per passenger remains high. (Those additional runs won’t be filled by passengers, since they won’t occur during commute times — and thus also will do nothing to relieve traffic congestion.)

    If someone wants to calculate the cost per passenger in some other way, here’s where you can find the October update to the KT POF plan.

    If you do the calculation another way, be sure to include all the tax revenue KT expects to use for capital costs, not just the Kitsap sales tax.

    I have ignored that other tax revenue, because we won’t be asked to vote on approving it. But, if you want to figure the entire cost including depreciation of all assets, etc., then include all the tax revenue, not just the sales tax we are being asked to approve.

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