While I'm very relieved that King County Metro won't be cutting 17% of their routes, I am deeply disappointed that the city is moving backwards with regard to public transit, rather than forward. We're trying to cut traffic and create a green, sustainable city and cut carbon emissions... by cutting public transit? We show our humanity and altruism... by cutting out our downtown free-ride zone?
I realize the country is really struggling economically. But what I don't understand is that--rather than cutting some of our war spending--we, the middle-class and the poor, have to suffer to try to make up for stupid decisions by the rich in this country. This is a perfect example.
Council supermajority agrees to vote for $20 charge to avert Metro service cuts
King County Executive Dow Constantine announced this morning that a supermajority of seven County Council members have agreed to support the proposed $20 congestion reduction charge to help fund Metro for two years.
They are supporting the charge in combination with additional actions to increase the transit system’s efficiency.
Approval of their agreed-upon legislative package would avert a 17 percent cut of Metro bus service. The Council is scheduled to take action next Monday, Aug. 15.
The agreement announced today would do the following:
- Develop a new transit incentive program that will offer bus tickets to people when they renew their car tabs.
People can either use the tickets to try transit or donate the ticket value to a pool that human service agencies will use to provide mobility for people in need.
- Phase out the downtown Seattle Ride Free Area (RFA) in October 2012. The City of Seattle pays Metro $400,000 a year to support the RFA, but that covers only about 18 percent of Metro’s $2.2 million annual cost to operate the RFA. Phasing out the RFA will increase fare revenue for Metro. Other advantages:
- The transit system will be simpler—riders will always pay when they board.
- Passengers heading away from downtown will get off the bus at any door, making deboarding easier and faster.
- Metro expects a decrease in the number of people who board downtown and don’t pay when they reach their destination.
- Increase the pool of funds that provides discounted bus tickets to human service and homeless programs.
Metro sells human service agencies deeply discounted tickets worth nearly $2 million annually. Metro will either increase the current ticket allocation or further reduce the discount, while giving the public the option of donating their transit incentive tickets. Metro will seek the advice of human service agencies on how to best help those in need. This enhanced program will assist those who have relied on free service downtown--and give them the ability to travel outside of downtown with the tickets.
- Move ahead with "right-sizing" transit service, consistent with the aim of Metro’s strategic plan to build a more productive, cost-effective transit system. In communities where Metro’s fixed-route buses serve few riders, Metro will deploy lower-cost, more efficient Dial-a-Ride Transit (DART), community access transportation services, and vanpools. Metro will reach out to community organizations and local residents to help shape “right-size” transportation strategies.
- Consider routes that carry more riders due to the effects of highway tolling as candidates for added services.
This is consistent with principles to enhance Metro’s productivity developed by the Regional Transit Task Force and adopted in Metro's strategic plan.
While the temporary congestion reduction charge is in effect, the County would continue working with state and regional leaders on a long-term funding solution for transit.
For updates and background information, visit www.kingcounty.gov/metro/