PHILLIPS Bus warrior.
  • PHILLIPS Bus warrior.
This guest Slog post is by Larry Phillips, chair of the Metropolitan King County Council.

Our transportation system is essential to the economic vitality and quality of life in our region, and King County Metro is a critical part of that. Cutting 74 routes and reducing over 100 more at a time of record ridership is simply not an option.

That’s why the entire King County Council—regardless of party affiliation or geographic district—voted to place an emergency measure, Proposition 1, before voters on April 22. The measure would raise sales tax by .1 percent for ten years and establish a $60 car-tab fee, and then distribute the estimated $130 million in annual revenue to Metro (60 percent) and cities for road or transit projects (40 percent).

And it’s not just the county council members who agree on this measure; Prop 1’s coalition of supporters is broad and diverse. It includes labor, business, environmental and social justice groups, and leaders across every part of this county. The Sound Cities Association, a coalition of 36 suburban cities, is a partner. Nineteen mayors from cities in King County have already endorsed. And here’s just a sample of our 115 community endorsements: Puget Sound Sage, OneAmerica, King County Conservation Voters, King County Labor Council, Amazon, and Climate Solutions.

But recently, the Seattle Times covered a meeting of the single organization in the county that has officially opposed Prop 1. The Eastside Transportation Association, an unabashedly pro-highway group, claims that King County Metro could solve its problems by cutting costs, rather than raising more revenue.

This is simply a false choice.

For the last six years, as we’ve worked with the state to find a more sustainable funding source for Metro, the agency’s finances have been under a microscope. Metro has undergone a whole host of cost-cutting measures that continues to save us around $130 million each year. Those measures include implementing audit findings and reducing operating costs, eliminating staff positions, reducing labor costs, doubling adult fares, cutting capital projects, and using reserves. The county’s sound fiscal management is the reason that we haven’t had to drastically cut our bus service yet—unlike our neighbors in Snohomish County who’ve seen 35 percent of their bus service eliminated, or our neighbors to the south in Pierce County whose bus system cut 43 percent of its service and is now a smaller agency than when it was first created.

There is no more fat to trim. The choice now is to pass Prop 1 or cut service.

We can’t afford 30,000 more cars on our already crowded roads. We can’t afford to leave our students, our elderly and disabled neighbors, and working families stranded. We can’t afford longer walks and waits to get on our overcrowded remaining routes.

The Eastside Transportation Association has it wrong. This isn’t about politics or ideology. It’s about our future, economy, quality of life, and environment. Let’s move King County now.