King County Metro’s 25-cent fare increase request, to go into effect October 1, has been retracted.  However, the P-I’s Gregory Roberts reports that all the side commentary indicates that that’s only because there’s a bigger one in the works.

Sims announced a month ago that Metro would seek a 25-cent fare increase Oct. 1 to soften the impact of rising bus fuel prices, which threw the agency’s budget projections $14 million into the red for this year and $22 million for next year.

But the new sales tax forecasts mean that the problem is worse and requires a more potent solution quickly, he said.

That could bring a proposal for a bigger fare increase, officials said, without specifying how much bigger. And although Sims said last month that service would not be cut to save money, he said Friday that all options were up for consideration.

To take a page from my usual opponents, in principle I don’t have a problem with paying something closer to the actual costs of moving myself around.  Since Executive Sims has utterly failed to find a sponsor in Olympia, fare increases are a superior option to cutting service.

A $2.25 PugetPass costs $81 a month. That would be a 50-cent increase in the Peak one-zone fare.  Prepare your budgets.

11 Replies to “P-I: Fare Increase Off the table – For Now”

  1. As long as I stick with my job, the fare could rise up to $4.75 and I’d still be in the clear.

    Of course, I use the bus 5x a week, max…

  2. Our only hope for service to be maintained without a massive and painful rate hike (which still wouldn’t cover the whole funding gap) is a Transportation Benefit Area for King County, which could increase car tabs up to $20. Our car tabs are already absurdly cheap compared to other states so we could definitely afford to do this. Of course, the Tim Eymans of the world would talk about how we are being taxed to death, willfully ignoring the evidence, so this would be politically difficult for the County Council to enact.

  3. “I don’t have a problem with paying something closer to the actual costs of moving myself around. ”

    Nor do you have a problem with having others reach for their wallets.

    1. Vanderleun,

      I don’t know how it is you get around, but unless it’s solely by foot, bicycle, and sailboat, everyone else is subsidizing it pretty substantially.

      So stop pretending that transit is some special exception to an otherwise free market utopia. It’s the penny-wise and pound-foolish attitude that’s gotten us into this mess in the first place, with bridges falling apart and our city two decades behind similar ones in transit infrastructure.

  4. Does anyone know how this affects Sound Move projects? Sound Transit has a much smaller operating budget than Metro yet construction costs are going up up while sales tax revenue is going down. In 2005, over 11% of the sales tax was from auto dealers and car parts. As people give up their cars and flock to transit, doesn’t that put all the transit agencies in a bind?

    1. Sales tax revenue has down periods (like now) but it also has periods where it grossly exceeds exceptions (like the Eastside from 1996-2007), so the belief is that it all evens out.

      I don’t know how it affects the up-front purchasing power of ST2, though. As for Sound Move, I can’t see this affecting construction.

  5. I was talking to a bus rider on the 234 yesterday, he said on some routes the fare evasion was up to 40%. Another great reason to move the payment off the bus and have more random inspections.

  6. The oil majors just posted $44 billion in profits for the last quarter. By comparison, the County’s $14 million loss is chump change. The money is there to buy busses, light rail etc.
    Everyone knows we are in an energy crisis. The days of unlimited access to oil are over. It’s time to use energy wisely. Nationalize the oil industry, redirect the profits into building a mass public transit system with free or very low fares.

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