$20 car tab tax (to prevent bus cuts that Metro is making anyway) rises today
Renewing your car tabs in King County will be $20 more beginning today. The new tax was approved by the King County Council to further subsidize Metro buses.
In this KOMO article, the author summarizes Metro officials’ reasoning behind the new tax:
Metro says that without the new fee, the routes that would have been cut would have led to an additional 15,000 cars on the county's roads each day.
But what Metro officials do not say is they cut the routes anyway. I’ve written about the recent service reductions Metro has made here: Wait…weren’t the $20 car tabs supposed to prevent bus cuts in King County? Apparently not.
Nearly all of the service reductions include the same routes that were used by protesters and County officials to threaten the public in order to justify the car tax increase this summer. It is also likely that Metro officials will propose further reductions later in the year and they will certainly include more routes that were also used to whip up transit supporters during the car tab tax increase debate.
Metro officials claim these current reductions are among low productivity and redundant routes that will improve the agency’s efficiency if they are removed. This is exactly why we urged Metro to make these changes without a tax increase in this Seattle Times OpEd. Instead, Metro officials deliberately used the threat of cuts as an (artificial) pressure point to influence the debate on whether they should receive yet another tax increase.
And it worked. Metro officials got the tax increase and now they are making the service cuts anyway.
The car tab tax increase also violates WPC’s position that drivers should not subsidize other transportation modes. Local government and state officials cannot fund the road and highway infrastructure needs that exist today. Any new revenue paid by drivers should be protected for projects that benefit them, not other user groups.
Transit officials like to claim that transit ridership provides an indirect benefit to drivers because it gets cars off the road. Even the title of the car tab tax increase proposal was absurdly referred to as a “Congestion Relief Charge.” But when drivers have unfunded road needs, trading a direct benefit (road funding) for an indirect benefit (transit funding) puts drivers in a worse position and turns the supposed advantage into a loss.
All transportation taxes and fees paid by drivers should be used for road purposes only, while alternative travel modes should be funded by their own users (which reduces the public subsidy) or through local options that apply to the general public, like sales taxes.