With the state legislature’s transportation funding effort stalled, County Executive Constantine has announced a new proposal to keep buses on the road. Today he asked the County Council to take swift action to secure stable funding for Metro and avert service cuts.

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He asked the Council to form a countywide transportation benefit district—allowed under state law—and put a funding proposal on the ballot for a public vote. The vote could happen as soon as April.

The proposal would generate about $130 million per year from two sources:

  • A $60 annual vehicle fee that would generate about $80 million per year.
  • A sales tax increase of one-tenth of a cent that would generate about $50 million per year.

Sixty percent of the funds, or a projected $80 million in 2015, would go to Metro for transit service. This would be enough to maintain our current service level.

The rest of the funds would be divided, based on population, among King County Road Services and cities for road maintenance and projects. (Learn more)

As another part of the solution, the Executive proposed an across-the-board, 25-cent fare increase for all regular service that would take effect in March 2015. The fare for Access Transportation riders would go up by 50 cents. We would also offer a new low-income fare, set at $1.50, to help make Metro affordable for those who need it the most. Eligible riders would pay the low-income fare only with ORCA—not with cash. (Read a fact sheet about the fare change proposal)

Through Feb. 7, we’re continuing with countywide outreach on a set of proposed service cuts that would reduce service up to 17 percent beginning this fall. Without new funding, these cuts will be needed to address a $75 million shortfall after temporary funding runs out in mid-2014. Metro will send a set of recommended reductions to Executive Constantine for council consideration in April or May. (Visit our website to see what’s proposed and tell us what you think; Read our Metro Future blog category to see what we have been hearing from riders)

As the Council considers these proposals in the coming weeks and months, we’ll let you know about opportunities to make your views known to elected officials on each of these critical decisions.