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King Co. Metro urges lawmakers to pass transpo funding package

Atomic Taco

Even if you don’t ride the bus, you may feel the brunt of possible service cuts by King County Metro as roads get more crowded with cars. That’s one of the messages leaders of King County Metro told the Seattle City Council.

They’re urging the state Legislature to pass a transportation revenue package in the special session that starts in several weeks. 

Victor Obeso, a service development manager for King County Metro, says if Metro cuts bus routes, more people will take their own cars to work.

"We're projecting that if we make these reductions, we would add another 20,000 to 30,000 vehicles on the road, many during peak periods, worsening congestion and costing all travelers throughout the region," Obeso said. 

King County Metro says it faces a $75 million annual shortfall as a temporary vehicle license surcharge expires next year. The transit agency says it has already made hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts since 2009.

Now Metro says if it doesn’t get more funding, it will have to cut some routes. The number 37 bus along Beach Drive in West Seattle is at risk, as are bus routes in Leschi, Laurelhurst, and Lake Forest Park. 

Seattle City Council Member Mike O’Brien says he’s concerned about low-wage workers who may not be able to afford a car.

"I’m looking at some of the areas in Seattle, and I imagine further out, too, where a lot of folks live, where there just won’t be service at certain times a day. So does that mean they lose their job or have to move, which has all sorts of expenses and inconveniences?" O'Brien said. "It just would be a disaster."

Metro says it raised fares by 80 percent from 2008 to 2011. But still, fares cover less than one-third of the budget. And transit agency leaders say there’s growing demand for bus service as the economy recovers and the population grows.

They say if the Legislature fails to act in the special session, they’ll draw up firm proposals for bus route cuts and present them to the public in the fall. The service cuts would take place a year later. 

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.
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