Mayor Murray announces his plan to save Metro in Seattle; Proposal would raise $45 million annually

A day after King County Executive Dow Constantine announced a plan to save Metro bus service, following the failure of Prop. 1, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has announced his own plan. His plan would save bus service in the City of Seattle, if Seattle voters agree.

“When so many people in this city rely on transit for their livelihood, especially those with lower incomes, we cannot delay,” said Murray. “We must act to preserve bus service in the city and on key intercity routes. And we know that this is what Seattle wants: two-thirds of voters in last month’s election said so loud and clear.”

Similar to Proposition 1 Murray's plan would mean a $60 vehicle license fee for Seattle residents and a 0.1 percent sales tax increase in the city.

Murray said that he and members of the City Council will work with Constantine and members of the County Council to ensure that Metro service hours purchased by Seattle taxpayers will be provided as efficiently as possible.

Constantine's proposal provides a framework for cities to buy service from Metro. The Mayor's plan outlined how the City would pay for buying service from Metro, through that framework for Community Mobility Contracts.

Murray's proposal would generate $45 million annually relieving more than 90 percent of the expected impact on bus riders that would be caused by proposed cuts in King County Metro service.

Of the $45 million generated by Murray’s plan, up to $3 million would be used as matching dollars in a Regional Partnership Fund, designed to attract financing from other jurisdictions for transit service on shared, peak-period commuter routes. Murray said he would soon be convening city leaders throughout Puget Sound to discuss partnership opportunities.

“I am very concerned about reductions in bus service affecting people’s ability to get to work, including my neighbors who travel from West Seattle to Downtown every day,” said Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who also serves as Chair of the Transportation Committee.  “With more than 66 percent passage of Prop 1 in Seattle, area residents and riders have shown that they are gravely concerned about impending cuts to Metro bus service, too,” concluded Rasmussen.

Murray also announced that he would use existing resources within the Seattle Department of Transportation budget to stave of the first phase of scheduled cuts to transit service in Seattle, targeted for night-owl service this September.
“I am so glad that there is appetite among our city's leaders to find ways to keep our buses rolling.  Transit is too vital a public service for us not to take action,” said Alison Eisenger, Executive Director of the Seattle-King County Coalition on Homelessness. “We need solutions that are both fair and practical for Seattle and King County. I want to note in particular that Mayor Murray's proposal would preserve night owl bus service, which is essential for people working swing shifts, and others, who would literally be left stranded without those late night routes.”
Additionally, Murray said approximately $2 million in his proposal would be designated to offset impacts on lower-income residents, including a vehicle license rebate for low-income car owners and a reduced fare for low-income riders.
“Transit is a critical community asset that we can't afford to cut back on right now,” said Rob Johnson, Executive Director of Transportation Choices Coalition. “Transportation Choices Coalition is determined to work with the Mayor and other elected officials in the region to save every possible hour of Metro bus service we can.”
Murray said that all money sent to Metro from the City of Seattle will be specifically designated for service within the city and on regional partnership routes. At the same time, he emphasized his commitment to a long-term, regional funding solution for transit. Funding for Metro from the City of Seattle would not be a Seattle takeover of Metro, Murray said, and would represent only 8 percent of the total system. He said it could be phased-out in two years if new regional revenue is approved by King County or the Legislature.

The Seattle Transportation Benefit Board, a group made up of all City Council members will review the plan and has until Aug. 5 to refer the proposal for a November vote.

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