Bus service will be slashed by up to 600,000 annual service hours in the next two years, or about 17 percent, unless King County Metro Transit gets an infusion of new tax revenue, General Manager Kevin Desmond said Monday morning.
He identified 65 lines that would be eliminated, and 86 more to have fewer trips, not only in outlying Seattle neighborhoods such as Broadview and Laurelhurst, but also in the suburbs including North Bend, Shoreline, Federal Way and Enumclaw. Two examples are Route 37 near Alki, or 308 to Lake Forest Park. Metro has posted information about the issue.
Some cuts would occur in fall 2014, and others in 2015, he said.
Desmond’s comments represent the latest step in his effort to rally support from city leaders and voters to prod the Legislature for new local taxing authority. Two suggestions are a 1.5 percent motor vehicle excise tax split between local transit and roads, requiring a public ballot, or a fixed car-tab fee enacted by the Metropolitan King County Council.
Transit funds from the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement project will run out next year midway through construction, and a two-year, $20 car-tab fee will expire in June 2014.
The 600,000-hour loss would happen, he said, even if riders take a 25-cent fare increase in 2014. And it doesn’t include another 45,000 hours lost in West Seattle, Burien and White Center that are specifically tied to Viaduct-replacement funding.
Sales-tax revenues are bouncing back from where they were in the economic downtown, but operating costs have increased. Ridership is on an upswing to about 400,000 daily boardings, near Metro’s 2008 record.
“We should actually be increasing service 10 percent,” Desmond said. For instance, Route 269 to Issaquah and Overlake should run all day but budgets allow only peak trips, he said.