Pierce Transit dodges service reductions (for now)

Pierce Transit Board of Commissioners voted Wednesday to delay a plan to reduce services beginning next month in light of higher-than-expected sales tax growth over the first five months of this year. The board’s action cancels implementation of the 28 per cent service reduction plan that would have taken effect on Sept. 29, and allows staff additional time to evaluate sales tax performance and complete a revised service plan for the board’s consideration.

The board’s action to delay service reductions was based on Pierce Transit’s sales tax collections through May of this year. Pierce Transit’s sales tax receipts are showing unexpected but steady growth over the same period in 2012. Collection data lags two months behind distribution, and was not available to the board when it voted to approve service reductions in June, according to Pierce Transit officials. Sales tax revenue accounts for as much as 75 per cent of the transportation agency’s operating budget revenue.

“The board’s action gives the agency time to see how sales tax will perform for the balance of 2013, time to complete its 2014 budget process this fall, time to integrate the board’s recently-adopted strategic plan, and return next year with a revised service plan based on a more complete financial picture,” said Pierce Transit CEO Lynne Griffith.

The September service reduction plan would have reduced the agency’s service hours from 417,000 hours to 300,000 service hours effective Sept. 29. The board’s decision means the agency will likely maintain service at about 392,000 hours through 2014.

More information is available online at piercetransit.org.

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