Ok, this sucks. Straight from Metro.
County Executive calls on County Council to enact two-year funding for Metro or face 17 percent service reduction
King County Executive Dow Constantine this morning asked the King County Council to make important decisions about the future of Metro Transit: approve a two-year, $20 congestion reduction charge to help maintain Metro service near current levels for two years, or begin the process of reducing the transit system by 17 percent.
The poor economy has hit Metro hard, causing a drop in Metro’s funding from sales tax. Over the past four years, Metro has cut costs, raised fares four times, dug deeply into reserves, found new operating efficiencies, canceled the purchase of replacement buses, and negotiated cost-saving contracts with its employee unions. These actions have generated nearly $400 million to narrow Metro’s budget gap for 2008-2011 and about $143 million annually for the years ahead—but Metro still faces an ongoing shortfall of $60 million per year.
The two-year congestion reduction charge would be $20 a year on vehicles licensed in King County. The proceeds would be used to preserve transit service while King County works with regional leaders, legislators and the Governor on a long-term funding solution for transportation needs.
In case the congestion charge is not approved, the Executive also asked the Council to authorize a reduction of about 100,000 annual bus service hours in February 2012. This would be the first in a series of reductions totaling 600,000 service hours that the Executive would ask the Council to authorize for the next two years if new funding is not approved.
These reductions would shrink the Metro system by about 17 percent, leading to the loss of an estimated 9 million passenger trips annually.Overall, a reduction of this size would affect 80 percent of Metro passengers—meaning four out of five bus riders would have to walk further, wait longer, make an extra transfer, stand in the aisle, or even see fully loaded buses pass them by.
Other areas have balancing budgets at this point? Why is Seattle still getting hit so hard? Can we stop serving the areas that barely use transit and bulk back up where we get real ROI already?! This is insane.
The other question I have though, is what in the world is this $20 congestion charge? How would it be applied? It appears that this isn’t a concrete idea or maybe somebody knows something more about it?
“A $20 congestion reduction charge would be applied to all vehicle registration renewals within King County for a two-year period.”
It also notes that all Metro routes have some riders, and that some riders depend on those routes, even if few others depend on those routes. It’s about social equity, not about being flexible to turn a profit (that’s what taxis are for).
I still like the idea of applying license charges based on vehicle weight (i.e. damage they incur to the road and thus the costs incurred to manage roadways up to those vehicle standards…)
But I digress, I’m all for the dinky $20 fee, but is that seriously going to help? I’d be shocked if it got passed at this time, didn’t they try it about 1-2 years ago?
I hope they can fill the gap, find some solution. As it stands Seattle is looking less and less like it will have viable transit in 5 years or so at the rate things are getting cancelled.
“is that seriously going to help?”
“The two-year charge would generate about $50 million over two years.”
“didn’t they try it about 1-2 years ago?”
Not that I’m aware of.