Will voters pay more in tabs and taxes for Metro?

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by ELISA HAHN / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @ElisaHahnK5

KING5.com

Posted on April 2, 2014 at 5:38 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 2 at 9:13 PM

SEATTLE -- King County voters will get ballots this week for Proposition 1, which would raise the sales tax and car tabs to help save Metro bus service.

If passed the sales tax would increase 0.1 percent to 9.6 percent, and car tabs would go up $60 per vehicle.

If voters reject it, Metro Transit says it will need to cut bus service by 17 percent, deleting 74 routes and reducing another 107 routes.

Supporters of Prop 1 say the cuts will impact bus riders and car commuters.

"If Metro bus services are cut by 17 percent, 20,000 to 30,000 more cars will be on the road. You think congestion and traffic are bad now, wait ‘til they cut our bus service," said Katie Wilson, executive secretary of the Transit Riders Union.

But Dick Paylor of the Eastside Transportation Association points to other alternatives, like raising fares.

He says for the top 50 transit agencies across the country, bus fares cover an average of 36 percent of their costs from riders. According to Metro, their "farebox recovery" is 29 percent in comparison.

Plus, Paylor worries that passing Prop 1 could hurt the state's chance of passing a transportation package.

"If King County passes this, many voters in King County will think they've already paid their share," said Paylor.

County leaders say they've made transportation revenues stretch as far as they can go. They've done audits, cut positions and eliminated the free rider area in downtown Seattle.

If Prop 1 is passed, the county says $72 million would go to the transit system, but another $56 million will go to other transportation projects.
 

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