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Friday, April 26, 2013

Time Is Running Out to Save King County Metro from 17 Percent Cuts

Posted by on Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 3:02 PM

This time next year King County Metro could very well be finalizing a 17 percent cut in bus service, eliminating as much as a third of its routes while reducing or revising service on another third. And many of the routes left unchanged won't be left untouched, absorbing higher ridership and more crowding.

And this isn't some scare tactic. These are the cuts Metro will likely make based on the analysis in its 2012 Service Guidelines Report should the state legislature fail to approve the local option taxing authority necessary to close a looming $75 million budget gap. And days from the end of regular legislative session, that authorization has yet to come.

"All we ask from the legislature is the freedom to responsibly invest," explains King County Executive Dow Constantine. "King County is prosperous because of investments in things like bus service and roads," says Constantine, "and with that investment the rest of the state will prosper."

Specifically, county and city leaders have asked the legislature for the authority to impose up to a 1.5 percent MVET (a tax on the value of your car). Revenue would be split 60/40 between Metro and roads, with the road money distributed to the cities and unincorporated King County proportionate to population. At it's full value, a 1.5 percent MVET would raise about $85 million a year for Metro and another $55 million to help close the region's growing deferred road maintenance backlog.

"We have a very significant backlog of maintenance needs," explains Constantine chief of staff Sung Yang. "And the longer you put off maintaining the roads, the bigger the cost."

The transportation funding package passed by the Democratic-controlled state house includes a local MVET option—for King County only—but with the requirement that it be approved by a countywide vote of the people. "We would have clearly preferred the ability to do this councilmanically," says Yang. But the Republican-controlled senate so far hasn't done even that.

"If there's a transportation package, I think it will include the MVET," predicts deposed senate majority leader Ed Murray (D-Seattle). The snag in the senate, says Murray, is his Republican colleagues' reluctance to approve the ten cent a gallon gas tax increase necessary to fund the proposed $8.4 billion transportation budget. And without a transportation funding package, what are the chances of the senate approving the Metro-saving MVET option? "I don't think enough votes would be there," speculates Murray.

At this late point, with the clock winding down, if the legislature is going to approve the MVET option it'll have to happen in a special session. And if they don't get it done before adjourning for the year? Expect Metro service cuts to begin by the fall of 2014. For if we miss this November's ballot there just won't be the time to approve and implement an MVET before the temporary $20 "congestion reduction charge" expires at the end of June, 2014. And bother drivers and bus riders alike will suffer.

"Forty-three percent of people going into and out of downtown Seattle do so on transit," says Constantine. Some of these people won't be able to get to their schools or their jobs. Others will just climb behind the wheels of their cars, making traffic congestion that much worse for everybody. "The vast majority of our transit users have cars at home," says Constantine.

The ultimate irony is that the legislature's failure to allow voters here in King County the opportunity to tax ourselves to pay for the local transportation infrastructure we need to prosper, could end up making future state budgets even harder to balance. "King County is half of the state's economy, and the failure to invest in the economy of King County means the economy of the state will suffer," says Constantine, who remains hopeful that the senate will do the right thing. "Assuming each of these people ran for office wanting to do right for their constituents," that is.

An assumption that in itself assumes a level analytic skill not generally on display in Olympia.

Routes at risk for deletion (65 routes):
7EX, 19, 21EX, 22, 25, 27, 30, 37, 48NEX, 57, 61, 76, 77EX, 82, 83, 84, 99, 110, 113, 114, 118EX, 119, 119EX, 123EX, 139, 152, 154, 157, 159, 161, 173, 179, 190, 192, 197, 200, 201, 203, 205EX, 210, 211EX, 213, 215, 216, 237, 243, 244EX, 250, 257, 260, 265, 268, 277, 280, 304, 308, 601EX, 907DART, 910DART, 913DART, 914DART, 919DART, 927DART, 930DART and 935DART.

Routes at risk for reductions and revisions (86 routes):
1, 2S, 2N, 3S, 3N, 4S, 4N, 5, 5EX, 7, 8, 9EX, 10, 11, 12, 14S, 16, 21, 24, 26, 26EX, 28, 28EX, 29, 31, 36, 41, 43, 47, 48N, 60, 65, 66EX, 67, 68, 70, 71, 72, 73, 106, 107, 116EX, 118, 121, 122, 125, 148, 156, 177, 181, 182, 186, 187, 193EX, 202, 204, 209, 214, 221, 224, 226, 232, 234, 235, 236, 238, 241, 245, 246, 248, 249, 255, 269, 271, 309EX, 311, 312EX, 331, 355EX, 372EX, 373EX, 901DART, 903DART, 908DART, 909DART and 931DART.


Comments (15) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
King County is prosperous because of investments in things like bus service and roads

That explains it then. We haven't built a single new highway even with a 60% population increase and we spend billions on an inadequate Lionel choo choo and cut the bus service.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on April 26, 2013 at 3:20 PM · Report this
seandr 3
Sorry, we spent the bus money building a couple new trollies.
Posted by seandr on April 26, 2013 at 3:50 PM · Report this
Kinison 4
I dont know why we even voted in the rapid ride system, its basically a joke. Its exactly the same route, only red and with fewer stops at a cost of 50 million? A friend from the bus stop in Overlake decided to take the one from Crossroads to downtown Bellevue and boy was she pissed, rapid ride is just a bad idea that voters were sold. Good luck at selling the voters inner city light rail or a subway system.

Chances are Metro will eliminate commuter routes, the ones that run early morning and late afternoon, thus forcing many people back into their cars.
Posted by Kinison on April 26, 2013 at 3:55 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 5
It's almost as if a lot of this went down a deep dark hole just south of the Aurora Bridge, passing near Pike Place Market.
Posted by Will in Seattle on April 26, 2013 at 3:59 PM · Report this
Kinison 6
Sorry, Rapid Ride cost 194 million to setup, with 2/3rd of that paid for by the federal government. It only cost us local citizens 65 million.

As someone who doesn't own nor drive a car and 100% dependent on the bus, Rapid Ride is a staggering waste of tax payer money.
Posted by Kinison on April 26, 2013 at 4:02 PM · Report this
Lew Siffer 7
Metro claimed the previous new funding would add tons of route hours and didn't yet raised salaries to the roof...fuck em. Fuck them deep and hard.
Posted by Lew Siffer on April 26, 2013 at 8:48 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 9
well, you're all going to get your wish because Rodney Tom won't get shit passed, let alone anything for Seattle.
Posted by Max Solomon on April 27, 2013 at 9:28 AM · Report this
Not to be too harsh to @8, but he or she is one of the reasons we're consistently being asked to pay more to continue running inefficient service that doesn't work.

Did you not notice, when you chose to "live where you live" because of the 25, that the 25 barely runs hourly, that it doesn't exist at night or on the weekend, and that absolutely no one rides it when it does run, because Montlake is full of people who have no interest in participating in larger civic life in that way?

Even if Metro were rolling in cash, the 25 has no reason to exist. What you are "supposed" to do -- what anyone in a similar situation in a city without a convoluted, back-assward transit system would do -- is to walk a whopping 10 minutes to any of the half-dozen routes that run a million times more frequently than the 25: the 70, 66, or 49 to the west, the 43 and 48 to the east. All of which have the demand to be made even better, if only we weren't wasting gobs of money on empty buses like the 25.

"Protect my empty, crappy bus (and never improve the system as a whole)" is about the worst reason you can give for perpetual supplementary funding begs.
Posted by d.p. on April 27, 2013 at 11:07 AM · Report this
My criticisms of @8's comments should in no way be conflated with the industrial-grade cluelessness of the festering boil on the ass of society known as Mister G... er, sorry, as "Unbrainwashed".

Posted by d.p. on April 27, 2013 at 4:08 PM · Report this
I'm done with you, fuckwit.
Posted by d.p. on April 27, 2013 at 4:17 PM · Report this
The east side is full of empty busses.

I've been a bus rider for a good part of the past 11 years and, short of the 243, have not ridden a single one of these listed.
Posted by you_are_stupid_no_really on April 28, 2013 at 12:16 AM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 16
When I moved to Seattle in 1995 (before some of you were born) Metro was rated in either the top 5 or maybe it was top 10 transit agencies in the US. (Someone will correct me on that) I was able to avoid buying a new car when I sold the Accord I had in College in 1997 and was able to get around easily with Metro, Flex-Car (then ZipCar) as well as the occasional cab ride.

But over the past few years the libertarian mindset of a huge portion of the state is slowly making it harder for anyone to try an live a greener, and more sustainable life, buy using public transit or hell, even bike lanes seem to be some commie plot according to these freaks in Olympia.

May just be time to buy a car and do my part to make Earth a little less habitable for future generations. I mean in America it's ME first.
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on April 28, 2013 at 10:16 AM · Report this
#16 -

Let me make sure I've got this straight.

What you're really saying is that even if driving a lone rider across the water costs $500, that's ok because it's the 'green' thing to do(When it is actually horribly inefficient from more than just a financial standpoint)?

You may be utilizing the term 'libertarian' as a misnomer for 'sane'.
Posted by you_are_stupid_no_really on April 28, 2013 at 12:31 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 20
@18 and 19, excuse me for not taking people seriously who are to cowardly to have their activity public on Slog or who just signed up for Slog a little over a week ago.

You guys are just the typical right wing trolls who happened to register for a profile so we all have to read your incoherent ramblings.

Now do us all a favor and go back to your reading of Ayn Rand and her celebration of rape
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on April 29, 2013 at 3:52 AM · Report this
Because we all know that the date that you finally were bored enough to sign up for a forum account constitutes such a huge amount of your viability in the real world.

I'm not so certain how my ground level experience has anything do my political affiliations, but I'll never be in favor of busses driving around with no one on them.

Have fun going extinct!
Posted by you_are_stupid_no_really on April 29, 2013 at 9:46 PM · Report this

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