Metro Transit cuts more likely with no transportation deal


by JOE FRYER / KING 5 News

Posted on July 1, 2013 at 11:39 PM

SEATTLE -- Cuts to Metro Transit service are much more likely after state lawmakers did not pass a $10 billion transportation funding package.

King County was hoping lawmakers would allow the county to raise car-tab taxes with voter approval, but that did not happen.  Metro says plans to cut service by 17 percent could take effect next year. 

"It's inconvenient for me," said Theodore Nordsieck, who relies on the 21X route to travel between his West Seattle neighborhood and his downtown Seattle job. 

In bus route speak, the X means "express."  But it could soon stand for "extinct."  If the route vanished, Nordsieck would need to adjust his personal route.

"There are alternative routes I can take, so I don't feel awful about it," he said.  "Just a little bit miffed."

Rob Johnson leads the Transportation Choices Coalition, one of many groups and businesses that asked lawmakers to pass the transportation package, which would have funded a number of projects through a 10.5 cent gas tax increase.  He now fears transit across the state will suffer.

"You're going to see hotter buses, louder buses, dirtier buses," he said.  "I think as you see buses get more crowded, you'll see those folks that have other options take them, and that will lead to more cars on the road, an increase in congestion."

King County says those aging roads could use more funding, too.  Some roads and bridges could be closed.  Other roads might even return to travel.

"It's a sad commentary that here in the 21st century we are allowing the infrastructure that our grandparents built and willed to us to deteriorate like this," said King County Executive Dow Constantine.

But the coalition of Republicans and two Democrats who lead the state Senate felt most drivers do not want to pay an extra 10 cents for gas. 

"Every step I turn, there's a new fee, excise tax, liquor tax or something of the sort," said one Washington commuter. 

Senate leaders would like to see more cost-cutting reforms within the state Department of Transportation before approving new projects. 

Governor Jay Inslee has not ruled out the possibility of another special session focused strictly on transportation.