Tomorrow from 12-1pm,
in their downtown offices in Rm 121 of the Chinook Building, Transportation Choices Coalition will host a discussion of the financial cliff King County Metro will drive straight over in 2014, absent action from the state legislature to give the agency more taxing authority:
Your bus could be on the chopping block! Faced with declining sales tax revenue, King County Metro may have to resort to drastic service cuts. The temporary congestion reduction charge staved off these cuts but it expires in 2014. To make matters worse, state funds which pay for transit service during the Alaskan Way Viaduct construction run out next year too – two years before the construction ends!
Join King County Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond for a discussion on what the future holds for King County Metro as they grapple with the challenge of keeping service in the face of an unprecedented loss of revenue. Hear about Metro’s plans for potential cuts and how they hope to keep buses running in 2014 and beyond.
Some numbers for context: Metro needs about $60 million annually to permanently fill the hole the Great Recession blew in the budget; this is currently filled by the two-year $20 Congestion Reduction Charge. On top of this is $15 million per year, to sell bonds to buy new buses (the current biennial budget is only balanced by assuming the cuts will take effect and those buses will not be replaced); and the almost-exhausted Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project construction mitigation funding, which pays for schedule padding and additional peak trips on West Seattle routes, trips that are now full.
Estimates from Metro suggest that a county-wide MVET of about 1% would be the minimum to meet these needs, considerably above the token 0.7% MVET included in the awful highway-expansion package announced last week. And of course, these numbers doesn’t allow for significant expansion or investment in the many corridors, mostly in Seattle, which are under-served at the current frequency levels, or which have shovel-ready projects available to reduce fuel consumption and improve travel times and reliability.