The savings and efficiencies created by Metro over the past few years save approximately $ 143 million per year, but the drop in sales tax revenues means Metro still faces an operating shortfall of $ 60 million a year each year from 2012 through 2015. The two-year charge would generate about $ 25 million per year. The combination of the congestion charge and the use of one-time reserves would enable Metro to avoid large service reductions in 2012-2013.
"Seattle generates 73 million riders a year on the Metro system" said Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, chair of the Council's Transportation Committee. "Our bus routes are overloaded today. A 17 percent cut would be devastating to everyone who lives or works in Seattle and who depends upon Metro Transit for mobility. I urge all County Councilmembers to recognize the importance of this opportunity we have in front of us to keep our City and the region moving."
"Metro Transit is the sole form of transportation for many people throughout King County, so it is vital that we protect as many service hours as possible," said County Councilmember Joe McDermott. "Although this is only a temporary solution, the hours saved will be a real benefit for people who depend on transit in order to get to and from their job, school, or doctor's office."
The prospect of service reductions comes even as riders are increasingly counting upon affordable alternatives to major construction on State Route 520 and the Alaskan Way Viaduct. A strong Metro transit system is also critical in supporting job creation and economic recovery by offering riders commuting choices that, in turn, keep congestion in check.
"Transit service is the economic lifeblood for Downtown Seattle and King County," said Kate Joncas, president of the Downtown Seattle Association. "Metro makes it possible for tens of thousands of residents from Kent, Renton, Seattle and places in between to get to their jobs Downtown. Cuts to bus service will negatively impact employees and employers and make it harder for King County to recover from the economic recession."
The Executive thanked the Governor and the Legislature for granting King County the authority to enact interim transit funding, and praised the leadership of State Senator Scott White, who sponsored the legislation. The earliest date on which the County Council can act on the legislation is July 22, or 90 days after the Congestion Reduction bill was approved by the Legislature.
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