Outside of the ferry system (more on that below), the two proposals are fairly similar, reflecting a lack of money to pursue many new projects beyond those already in the pipeline.
Both budgets restore cuts [$20 million dollars] Gov. Chris Gregoire would have made to transit agency grants. Locally, the program would spend $3.5 million on a Hawks Prairie park-and-ride project and $3 million on the planned commuter rail connection to Lakewood. The Senate version also would provide $701,000 for Pierce Transit to improve bus access in Parkland.
There are now three very different proposals for increasing ferry fares. Senators said their plan assumes approval of a 25-cent surcharge on each ferry fare, but otherwise it wouldn’t increase fares more than the 2.5 percent hike already approved.
The House budget doesn’t include the surcharge but would raise fares 7.5 percent instead of 2.5 percent. Gov. Chris Gregoire’s proposal would change the increase to 10 percent, while adding a different surcharge that would vary based on fuel prices.
The big take away of all three budgets is that transportation funding is essentially in a holding mode. Uncompleted projects identified under the Transportation Partnership and Nickle Package are being pushed out because there simply isn’t enough money for them. Most funds from those packages are already spoken for and are now going to pay off bonds over the next 25 years.