The Council received a briefing this morning from King County Metro highlighting some of the funding challenges looming for our local transit network.
But first, some good news: funding transit is effective mitigation that keeps people moving through the major construction projects underway. For the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program construction period, the State contributed $32 million in transit mitigation. Since construction began, this corridor sees 25,000 fewer vehicles each day, but additional transit service has attracted 17,000 new riders.
The bad news? Unfortunately, the mitigation funding contributed by the State is not sufficient to last through the entire construction period from 2014 to 2016. And to make matters worse, Metro will be forced to cut 16% of bus service (not counting the expiring mitigation service) throughout its system by mid-2014 unless a new permanent funding source is approved. We’re not the only locality facing this problem. Pierce County Transit was just forced to reduce service by 34%, to take effect later this year.
It’s clear that we need new funding sources created at the State level, including local option sources, to keep Metro’s system (and others) functioning. These efforts have failed over the past several years because as a state we have not been able to agree on a comprehensive transportation package (including transit), but we must keep pressing.