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The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

November 7, 2013 at 12:24 PM

King County voters could soon see tax measure for Metro Transit

King County voters will probably see a tax measure to support Metro Transit within a few months, regardless of what lawmakers do about transportation in this month’s special session.

“We’re not going to be left in a situation where we’re not going to give voters the ability to save the system,” Councilmember Larry Phillips of Magnolia said at a morning news conference called by Metro.

Metro issued an updated website today, illustrating how potential service cuts would affect various highway corridors and neighborhoods, for instance that 13 percent of buses passing Eastgate on I-90 could disappear.

Earlier this year, lawmakers did not pass a measure allowing King County to seek a car-tab tax of $150 per $10,000 vehicle value, split 60 percent for transit and 40 percent to city and county roads. Executive Dow Constantine was headed to Olympia today, to lobby for funding authority.

But if that doesn’t occur, the county could ask voters to pass a flat $100 car-tab fee, or smaller taxes including a sales tax, under local “transportation benefit district” laws.

Metro reiterated its warning today that cuts totaling 17 percent could be phased in during the next two years without new money. A temporary $20 car-tab fee, and state aid for about 150 daily bus runs on Alaskan Way Viaduct routes, both expire in mid-2014.

The first cuts would be to the viaduct routes, to be proposed in December and take effect June 6, said Kevin Desmond, Metro general manager.

Aurora Avenue North and Southcenter routes would be mostly spared, but severe cuts would happen in several areas including Ballard, Kenmore, Lake City, Issaquah, the Snoqualmie Valley, the Kingsgate area near Kirkland, and Auburn, Metro officials said.

In all, 74 of the 214 routes would be deleted, while other buses become more crowded or run less often.

Metro forecasts a loss of about 50,000 of the 400,000 daily passenger trips, if all the cuts occur.

Comments | Topics: Dow Constantine, King County, Larry Phillips


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