Transit riders on buses that travel on the Alaskan Way Viaduct — who faced the possibility of severe bus-service cuts this summer — will catch a break until the end of 2015, it now seems.
Bus use has grown on the viaduct routes since construction in that corridor began in 2011, Metro says. Many buses run full, including RapidRide C from West Seattle, and the 120, which serves Delridge, White Center and Burien.
State Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson has told her Highway 99 team to keep sending King County Metro millions of dollars to sustain the popular viaduct bus lines, which carry more than 24,000 daily passengers. An earlier allotment of $32 million in state funds, which pay for about 150 daily bus runs, will run out midyear.
“This wildly successful mitigation service has moved more people through the Alaskan Way Viaduct while reducing the vehicles using it,” said King County Councilmember Joe McDermott. “As a C Line commuter, I am pleased the state is continuing the funding as the project continues.”
However, the county government still says it needs a sales-tax increase of 0.1 percent, which is likely to appear on the April 22 ballot, to avert a broader reduction of up to 17 percent in bus hours, spread throughout the county. Low-use routes could be scrapped, some peak-only routes might run fewer times a day, and the most popular routes may become more crowded. A $60 car-tab fee for roads is also proposed alongside the transit tax.
A letter from Peterson to County Executive Dow Constantine doesn’t explain how transit dollars will be distributed from the increasingly strained highway budget to replace the viaduct. Contingency funds stood at $78 million last summer, not counting whatever losses result from the lengthy stoppage of tunnel machine Bertha.
McDermott said the amount of additional state funding isn’t determined yet, but it’s been flowing at close to $10 million per year.