Metro plans to lay off around 200 drivers this month.
Metro plans to lay off around 200 drivers this month. Courtesy of ATU

On top of everything, King County bus service is about to get a bit less reliable, with Metro planning to lay off around 200 drivers this month and additional drivers and mechanics facing uncertainty in the near future. In response, Amalgamated Transit Union 587 and Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity are holding a rally today at City Hall Park to protest the cuts. It’s at 4 pm at City Hall Park (450 3rd Ave), and they sure could use your support.

Note that this is separate from the OTHER big march happening today, demanding the defunding of the Seattle Police, which began marching from the Seattle children’s prison to City Hall at noon. Hey, given that City Hall is just three blocks from City Hall Park, maybe the protests could join forces? After all, what is “defund the police” if not “fund all the services that we need more than cops”?

As for Metro...

Bus service has already been hit pretty hard by the pandemic, with Metro running on a reduced schedule since March. They’re estimating that due to the cratering of sales tax, they’re looking at a budget shortfall of around a half-billion (!) on top of another cut of more than $100 million in fare revenue. Overall, they’re going to have to find $2.2 billion to chop from 2020 to 2028.

As usual, these cutbacks will hurt the working poor most.

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Oh and let’s not forget that I-976, if it’s allowed to go ahead, will mean huge transit cuts as well, with private-car drivers given carte blanche to clog city streets and choke the air. Thanks, Tim, great timing on that one.

There may be a glimmer of hope on the horizon with a proposed sales tax increase to fund transit; we’ll be voting on that in November. But of course, higher sales taxes hurt the working poor too.

If only there was some way to free up some money in the budget … some huge expense … some massive fiscal drain that isn’t worth shoveling money into … oh well, we can dream.