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College students weigh in against Metro bus cuts

Could cuts to Metro bus routes result in more college dropouts? Student leaders at the University of Washington say it’s something they’re deeply concerned about.

Students testifying last night at a hearings in King County over a proposed $20 car tab fee argued in favor of the charge. The money would  help keep Metro busses running at current levels. Without the fee, Metro service is expected to be cut by 17 percent.

University of Washington student Andrew Lewis is head of Government Relations for the Associated Students of the University of Washington. The Associated Students have come out in favor of the car tab fee, officially known as the $20 Congestion Reduction Charge.

Student commuters hit hard

Lewis points out that 10 percent of Metro’s ridership comes from UW employees and students.  And, he says, a lot of the students who live in Bellevue or in South Seattle will have a hard time if their bus route is cut.

"Those people who don't live on campus and have to continue to live with their parents and rely on the U-Pass as their method to get to school, they're going to be impacted by this very deeply. And that's going to be bad not only for their academic future, it's going to be bad for our region's economy," he said.

Lewis says students who don't have a way to get to school will be forced to make some tough choices.  In some cases, he says, they may end up leaving the UW.

Packed hearings

Students aren't the only ones speaking out about potential reduction in Metro service. Two hearings held by the King County Council have been packed.

The Seattle Times reported that more than 400 people attended last night's hearing, and KING 5 has a video of the meeting.

The proposal also drew out anti-tax activist Tim Eyman, who opposes the car tab fee, spoke out at the King County Council public hearing in Kirkland on July 6th. Read about it here in The Kirkland Reporter's story.

Parties split on tax

King County Council members are split on the car tab fee.

Democrats favor the temporary tax, it would be in place for two years, as a way to preserve Metro bus service.  Without the fee, they point out, bus service will be cut back to 1996 levels. Republicans on the council have said they oppose raising car tab fees without a vote of the people. The Council is expected to decide on the issue by the end of this month.

The King County Council is holding one more hearing for public input: Thursday, July 21 in the Burien City Council Chambers, 400 S.W. 152nd Street.


Paula is a former host, reporter and producer who retired from KNKX in 2021. She joined the station in 1989 as All Things Considered host and covered the Law and Justice beat for 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.