Sunday, February 1, 2009

Panel urges Sound Transit to closely monitor spending

Panel urges Sound Transit to closely monitor spending

Sound Transit's costs are rising dramatically, and it's hard to tell if it's because more service is being provided or individual costs are being inflated, an oversight group said.

In a report issued last week, the agency's Citizen Oversight Panel said "costs in virtually every area of Sound Transit operations continue to grow rapidly, reflecting increases both in transit service and base agency operations."

The report, presented to the agency's board, said operating costs are set to increase nearly 8 percent this year from last year, to $65.4 million, which includes salaries and benefits for 394 employees. The staff will include 22 new positions, 18 of them in transportation services.

The report urged the Seattle-based transit agency to more closely monitor costs "so that a culture of cost control and operational efficiency becomes established."

Despite what many Puget Sounders think, between Sound Transit and Metro the Seattle Metro area has a pretty great bus system. Keeping an eye on costs is always a good thing but if people aren't careful a "culture of cost control" could turn into a "culture of cutting service" that would impact people in poor areas that need bus service the most.

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