Last Friday, King County Executive Dow Constantine announced that the King County Council had enough votes to pass a $20 car tab fee at Monday’s scheduled meeting about Metro funding. If the Council voted to enact the car tab fee, there would be no reason to put that decision before the voters in November. And no reason for Metro to cut 600,000 service hours beginning in February.
We saw a number of articles and news stories about Monday’s vote late last week. But the vote hadn’t happened yet, and I didn’t want to jump the gun. Just in case Tim Eyman got involved, or something else happened over the weekend to sway enough Council votes to defeat the tab fee vote on Monday.
But now it’s final. The vote has taken place, and the car tab fee will be enacted. Here’s a synopsis of how the Seattle PI explains a new package that was agreed upon by the Council:
- $20 additional car tab fee per year, for 2 years.
- Eliminating the Ride Free Area, beginning in October 2012. Seattle currently pays $400,000 — a price set in 1973 — for the service, but it costs Metro about $2.2 million annually to operate.
- A new “Transit Incentive Program” under which 8 free bus vouchers — worth $24 — will be issued for each car tab renewal… People who don’t want the tickets can donate them to a pool of 150 social service agencies that help the impoverished pay for transit service.
- Increasing the amount of discounted bus tickets sold to social service agencies.
- Adding more service to routes that carry more riders due to tolling (520).
- Moving ahead sooner with plans to replace buses in far-flung exurbs with lower-cost “Dial-a-Ride” services, vanpools, vanshares and community access transportation.
The final two votes belonged to Republicans Jane Hague and Kathy Lambert, both of whom are facing primary races this week. Lambert told the PI, “We didn’t change our minds, we changed the proposal” while Hague told the PI that she was “willing to risk voter backlash over doing what she thought was the right thing.”
Which warms the heart really, elected officials doing what they think is the right thing. Thank you. Whether it actually is, and whether this tab fee and other changes will keep Metro running where we need it to, time will tell.
But I’m thrilled I don’t have to start commuting to South Lake Union via Stand Up Paddleboard any time soon.