Earlier this week, the King County Council unanimously passed an ordinance to preserve 96% of Metro bus service by only adopting a 161,000-hour service cut on September 27th. Metro provides about 3.5 million hours of bus service to King County. King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski said the following about the adopted cuts (emphasis mine):
Starting tomorrow night, three westbound lanes of Interstate 90 across Lake Washington will be closed for a week due to bridge repairs. The construction could lead to crippling congestion for cars and buses across and around the lake. The unusual shut down has irritated many in the public, who look to state officials to reduce or eliminate the tolls on SR-520 to ease some of the frustration. The Washington State Transportation Commission, responsible for tolling in the region, responded:
Last week, the Seattle City Council reversed course and repealed its earlier decision to artificially cap the number of rideshare drivers in the city. Today, the City Council cleared the next hurdle by legalizing rideshares by an eight to one council vote. The decision, based on an agreement spearheaded by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, gives consumers more choices in how they travel around Seattle’s congested streets.
Soon after the people of King County defeated Proposition 1 , King County Executive Dow Constantine’s proposal to increase regressive sales and car taxes to avoid his bus-cuts plan, Executive Dow Constantine said “There are no other options but to cut [bus] service.”
As King County officials come to terms with voters’ rejection of Proposition 1’s regressive tax increases, they are moving ahead with their earlier threats to cut bus services in neighborhoods across the county. Less than a week after the election, County Executive Dow Constantine submitted his plans to impose service cuts.
King County leaders want to cut bus service, but that is not what people voted for when they defeated Proposition 1.
For several months now, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Councilmember Larry Phillips and other county leaders have told the public they will cut neighborhood bus routes if they do not receive more revenue from regressive taxes. King County officials say that without the new regressive taxes, they plan to cut 550,000 hours of bus service in many neighborhoods. Their planned cuts would fall hardest in many low-income neighborhoods across the county.
Washington Policy Center broke news in mid-March about Metro’s record-breaking revenues and future revenue windfalls. Metro officials soon followed up by releasing their new plans to reduce some of their planned bus cuts, saying that “improved sales tax will allow Metro to reduce the proposed package of cuts. Transit planners are finalizing the revised list of reductions.”
KVI radio’s John Carlson reported last week on my recent study on the windfall tax revenues Metro received last year and is receiving this year. In 2013, Metro officials collected $443 million from the public, the highest level ever. In 2014, Metro officials expect to collect even more, $471 million, a $32 million windfall above estimates.
In newly-released figures, Metro officials announced they received record-breaking levels of tax revenue in 2013, reporting they collected more money from the public in taxes than at any time in the agency’s history.
The state’s largest public transit agency collected $442,731,128 in tax revenue the last calendar year, surpassing pre-recession revenue levels.