[UPDATE 2/16 7:30 am: Publicola says the bill is in trouble in the House.
UPDATE 2/16 12:00 pm: To lookup your legislator go here.]
HB 2855 is the bill that would allow a temporary $20 increase in automobile license fees and therefore avoid budget cuts in many of Washington’s transit agencies. This $20 increase can be enabled by a simple vote of each agency’s governing board (in King County’s case, the County Council). A further $30 is available to certain counties (basically, Puget Sound*) with a public vote. Bertolet says the $20 fee would provide Metro $28m/year, or about 224,000 service hours. We have 50,000 hours in service cuts planned through 2011, and about 385,000 in the two years after that. Arithmetic tells us a $40 fee should put Metro right on track for its pre-recession plans.
I don’t have the revenue figures for the CT district on hand, but a tax rise should enable the agency to buy back at least the elimination of Sunday Service, which would take about 48,000 service hours to restore completely. Most, but I don’t believe all, other transit agencies in the State actually have some sales tax authority remaining, although sales tax increases require a public vote.
Tomorrow (Tuesday) is the last day for it to get it out of the House. Transportation Choices has an action page allowing you to email your legislators. If it passes the House there are still obstacles in the Senate and the Governor’s office. Senate Transporation Chair Mary Margaret Haugen (D-Camano Island) is reportedly opposed, and Governor Gregoire chose to veto a $20 measure last year.
Anyway, click on the link to contact your representatives.
* Population > 1m; population > 500,000, adjacent to > 1m; population 200,000, adjacent to > 500,000. The Venn diagram suggests the second category is entirely enclosed by the third, but whatever…