On Other Blogs Today
On Other Blogs Today: More Than 120 Complaints, ORCA, Obamacare, and More
Our daily roundup.
1. Seattle Transit Blog offers a critique of King County Metro's ORCA day-pass program, which allows users to buy a one-day pass that works on their ORCA card. Although an all-day pass on ORCA is "the most requested fare product in the Puget Sound region, and for good reason," STB's Bruce Nourish writes, the proposed pricing of the all-day pass is problematic, both for one-time uses (like tourists) and for regular daily passengers.
For regular passengers, the price—$9—is probably uncompetitive unless a rider is taking a lot of trips, at different times of day (since riders currently get an ORCA "transfer" for two hours after they pay for a ride). For visitors, who have to buy an ORCA card in addition to paying the $4 fare, the cost is even more prohibitive—$14 total for a single day, which would require many, many transfers throughout a day to make financial sense.
In short: They're "underwhelmed" by the pricing of this new option, and so am I.
2. In contrast, the BBC reports, the city of London just announced that it plans to make the vast majority of rides on its Metro system "cashless" by next year, by promoting the use of its Oyster Card (the model for the ORCA card). To reduce the impact on people with less ability to pay, the city will allow passengers with less than the minimum single bus fare, but with a positive value on their card, to ride without adding credit to their card, and will increase the number of locations where Oyster cards are available. The goal is to reduce the number of cash-paying riders to less than 1 percent—saving an estimated £130 million.
3. The Seattle Times reports that the King County Sheriff's Department has fired deputy Patrick Saulet, a 27-year veteran who has been the subject of more than 120 complaints over the years, because he threatened to arrest Stranger news editor Dominic Holden when Holden took photos of Saulet in front of the International District transit station while the officers were surrounding a man who was sitting at the station. Another officer, the Seattle Police Department's John Marion, was suspended for a day without pay over the incident.
Holden has written extensively for the Stranger about the encounter.
4. The libertarian-leaning Washington Policy Center argues that it doesn't make sense to give people a sales tax exemption when they buy electric cars like Nissan's ($29,000) Leaf or Tesla's ($86,000) Model S.
Drumroll, please: I agree! Subsidizing fancy car purchases by rich people—people who can afford to buy super-fancy electric cars instead of, say, taking the bus—probably isn't the best use of the state's limited tax resources.
Of course, I'd go further and argue against any tax subsidies for cars in general, given the high costs they impose on everyone in the form of pollution and sprawl. Not to mention the fact that we all heavily subsidize roads for cars, including those of us who don't drive—in the form of general taxes paid by everyone, which make up more than half of the cost of highway construction and maintenance.
5. The News Tribune reports that Republican state Sen. Steve O'Ban has proposed a bill that would allow people to get out-of-state insurance that doesn't meet state and federal insurance requirements, which mandate a basic minimal standard of coverage.
Under O'Ban's bill, state residents would again have the right to buy crappy insurance that costs a ton of money and only covers the most catastrophic incidents, as opposed to basic or preventative health care—exactly the sort of situation the Affordable Care Act was designed to alleviate.
6. For a little palate cleanser after all that bummer news, check out the #howseattleriots Twitter hashtag, featuring inspiring news about the Pioneer Square pergola (we broke it, but we're paying for it!) ans well as gems like, "Flip over compost bins," "Saying 'let's hang out' and then actually hanging out," and "Taking off all the 'contains nuts' and 'contains gluten' signs off of the appetizers at the Super Bowl party."