Metro's big spending spree --- on your dime

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It is huge…I don’t have knowledge of anything else that has this scale.”
Greg Jordan, General Manager, Metro
Portland Press Herald, August 14, 2017

Metro’s gold rush is on. It was announced in the summer of ’17, when most taxpayers were busy with summer activities. Here are the key points:

  • Metro and USM held a big press conference to announce an agreement between the two organizations, neither of which pays taxes.
  • Metro has contracted with USM to provide essentially the same service that a taxpaying business has been providing for more than 30 years. Metro’s new route will take at least five minutes longer, and the buses will not have motorcoach seats (which they do now.)
  • USM did not ask taxpaying businesses whether they could provide the same service more efficiently and at a lower price.
  • The 7 or 8 new buses needed to effect this plan will cost $500,000 each and double the number of buses now used for the USM student shuttle, thereby increasing wear and tear on roads and bridges.
  • The new buses will have reduced seating capacity, and the seats themselves will be far less comfortable than those currently in service.
  • Metro will spend $4.5 million in federal and state taxpayer funding to buy 7 or 8 new buses, and will require nearly $2 million of the taxpayers' money, just in Year 1, to operate the route.
  • The Maine DOT State Transportation Improvement Program has set aside two pots of funding in Fiscal Year 2017 for an "urban operating startup." One pot contains $467,381 in combined federal-state funding, the other pot contains $439,506 in combined federal-state funding.
  • Annual operating subsidies (money from taxpayers) will be necessary to sustain the USM "Husky Line" service after the first three years of subsidy is exhausted. MDOT anticipates $813,894 in operating assistance for the Husky Line in Fiscal Year 2020. No surprise, YOU THE TAXPAYERS will pick up the tab.
  • The agreement calls for a minimum payment from USM to METRO of $375,000 in the first year, increasing by 3% of each year of the agreement.

CLICK HERE to understand why all this money spent on new buses will have unintended consequence.