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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

July 24, 2013 at 6:55 AM

‘Where’s The (transit) Funding’ rally planned Saturday in Seattle

A month after a transportation plan crashed in the Legislature, the Seattle Transit Riders Union will hold what it calls the “WTF, Olympia?” rally, seeking new taxes to prevent bus-service cuts.

The event is to be held in the park just south of the King County Courthouse, at Third Avenue and Yesler Way.

King County Metro Transit has said it would reduce up to 17 percent of service hours unless lawmakers provide new revenue to replace funds that will go away in mid-2014: a $20 annual car-tab fee for bus service, and $32 million from the Highway 99 tunnel project to provide extra peak-time buses (which run close to full) through the Sodo construction zone.

Metro has raised fares $1 since 2008 and plans another 25-cent hike next year.

“Our Legislature failed all of us: Not only will bus riders lose service, traffic congestion will get worse, and the economy and the environment will suffer too,” said the group’s co-founder, Katie Wilson.

Skeptics make their own arguments. Farebox receipts cover only 27 percent of Metro’s operating cost, and even after recent service changes, Metro still runs 56 routes that carry fewer than 300 daily riders, out of a total 225 routes. (The busiest line is the 7 on Rainier Avenue South, serving 12,360 daily riders, closely followed by route 358 on Aurora Avenue North.)

The transit supporters plan to write their grievances and toss paper slips into a cardboard bus. Wilson said she hopes to arrange a meeting with state Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina, who is aligned with Republicans. Tom recently said he prefers sales taxes to fund transit, instead of the car-tab taxes proposed in the 2013 bill.  Supporters have been asking for a law that would allow King County voters to decide whether to raise taxes for local transit and roads.

Metro serves just over 400,000 riders a day, about the same as mid-2008 just before the recession.

Comments | More in Politics Northwest | Topics: rodney tom, Seattle. King County Metro Transit, Where the Funding


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