FTA response blames M’s, wants you to go screw yourself
From the FTA, if you can manage to get their broken contact form to work.
Answer: Thanks for taking the time to share your
comments. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has
received a number of questions and comments concerning the
Seattle Mariners’ 2009 baseball season bus service. A lot of
these comments have come from an article published recently
in a local paper that mistakenly gives the impression that
FTA “banned” the service.
I don’t know why they’d think that. Crazy people. The FTA just enacted a regulation that made it cost prohibitive for the M’s to continue. That’s not banning it.
FTA drafted the charter regulation in response to a request
from Congress. There was a charter regulation in existence
prior to the current one that was vague, specifically when
it came to the definition of charter service. The current
charter regulation is the result of over a year’s worth of
work consulting, and negotiating with members of both
private charter companies and public transit agencies. The
result was a rule that provides clear guidelines for the
first time in 30 years, aimed at helping public transit
agencies and private charter companies figure out who is in
the best position to provide bus service for such events
conveniently, efficiently, and economically.
Do you think Metro, or anyone, signed off on this? Really? All the public transit authorities in the country were just begging the FTA “please, please, we can’t figure out what to do with ourselves, or how we can best serve our communities! Ban us from doing anything that’s not strictly scheduled, for the love of God!”
And remember how horrible life was under the previous, vague regulation. Has everyone erased their memories of the Greyhound-Sound Transit War of 2006, when buses armed with technicals ran wild through the city, the air filled with the smell of gunpowder and the chatter of small arms? When the bus barn looked like this?
Thank goodness that horrible time is over.
The regulation, in part, protects private bus companies
from having to compete unfairly with federally funded public
operators-a long-standing point of contention. As cities
across the country gear up for their summer festivals and
concerts, many have already successfully adjusted to the
rule. Transit agencies, in turn, are better able to focus on
their core mission-providing high quality, timely, bus
service-without sacrificing any of the services riders
expect from them on regular fixed routes.
Good of them to explain what a transportation agency’s core mission is for us.
I thought Metro’s mission was
Provide the best possible public transit services that get people on the bus and improve regional mobility and quality of life in King County.
Like, say, low-cost public transport to special events downtown.
During the negotiations on the charter rule a concern was
raised about unmet needs several times. As a result, there
are different measures in the current charter regulation
that work to prevent unmet needs, including petitioning FTA
for an exception for an event of regional or national
significance, hardship, or time sensitive events, as well as
an option for transit agency to send out notices for service
they are interested in providing. All of these tools work
together to ensure that a transit agency can work with
private operators to prevent unmet service needs.
Uh huh, uh huh. Except that clearly they do not work, since we don’t have shuttle service any more despite Metro and the Mariners both wanting to provide it.
Organizations like the Seattle Mariners are free to
contract with local companies to provide shuttle service to
baseball games. If an organization chooses not to spend
money to ensure their fans can get to games quickly and
efficiently, then the call that fans should really make is
to the organization–not the Federal government. While we
stand at the ready to explain the regulation, we cannot
explain why the Seattle Mariners organization chooses to
leave its fans out in the cold, while other sports
organization gladly spend the dollars to ensure fans have
easy access to games (the Washington Nationals pay for
shuttle service for its fans, as do the Baltimore Ravens, as
well as many others). In the end, the Seattle Mariners
baseball organization made the business decision to not
provide its fans with shuttle service this year.
Wow. Was there no ASCII art middle finger they could have included in the email?
This is, and let’s just call it what it is, a big fuck-you to anyone who writes them, and whoever came up with this answer should be ashamed of themselves.
The M’s ran, for ten years, a lovely little program with Metro which provided shuttle bus service which was cheap, convenient, got people who might not use public transit a nice introduction, and helped everyone.
As the result of this Bush regulation, they can’t. So they went to Starline, which quoted them a price hundreds of thousands of dollars more. The M’s decided not to foot that bill — which is totally understandable.
So we’re supposed to blame the M’s because the FTA wants to ban Metro from providing extra off-schedule bus service?
I don’t understand, frankly, why anyone could possibly support this. From a common-sense perspective, the service was good for the M’s, it was good for Metro, it was good for traffic. From a free-market perspective, first, why does the FTA get to decide if it’s best for Seattle to hamstring this kind of service? Why not let an existing infrastructure provide a more efficient service, “freeing up” Skyline to do whatever it is they do when they’re not lobbying. And why blame the M’s for making that business decision? And on and on and on
Unless otherwise specified, this message is being sent by
an individual employee in an effort to provide a rapid
response to an email inquiry and may not represent official
FTA or DOT policy. Individuals seeking formal
determinations or opinions are invited to submit their
requests in writing to the agency.
Oh, I will.
Federal Transit Administration
Office of Communications & Congressional Affairs
East Building, 5TH Floor
1200 New Jersey Ave SE
Washington, DC 20590
Update: Much of that FTA response, if you’re curious, is indeed stock, recycled from James Simpson’s May 27 2008 letter to the Washington Post, helpfully found here. Simpson’s a 2006 appointee and came from… wait for it… “an international transportation company.”