The news keeps getting better at King County Metro Transit. Metro officials are the beneficiaries of record-breaking sales tax revenues, and are seeing large tax windfalls that were unthinkable just two years ago. Back then, Metro executives assumed their sales tax revenues would grow at a meager pace, and they planned to impose harsh bus cuts in many communities unless they raised taxes. However, a rebounding economy and swelling coffers should allow officials to keep bus service on the road without regressive tax increases.
Many ferry passengers have known for some time that the ferry system in our state is broken. Some state leaders have continuously fought to reform the troubled agency to restore the public trust, only to be met with fierce resistance from powerful labor unions and well-compensated upper management.
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Last week, the Seattle City Council reversed course and repealed its earlier decision to artificially cap the number of rideshare drivers in the city.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.”