Metros funding shortfall, by the numbers
  • Metro's funding shortfall, by the numbers
They succeeded in getting a bill through the state senate that—if it passes the state house—will help the financially fucked Metro bus system by slapping a $20-per-car "congestion reduction charge" on King County vehicles.

Now, trying to build on that momentum, State Senator Scott White (D-46) and State Representative Marko Liias (D-21) have introduced a bill that would provide additional ways to fund transit over the next few years.

You ask: Wait, why is Metro so financially fucked again? Sen. White explains:

We are suffering the Great Recession, which has caused our sales tax revenues that benefit many public services to decline greatly. King County Metro Transit is one of those services.

That's how you get the roughly $150 million Metro funding shortfall shown in the above chart. Even if the "congestion reduction charge" passes the legislature this session and is adopted in King County, it will only raise a maximum of $26 million for Metro—a fraction of the need.

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So: This new proposal, backed by White and Liias (and the group Transportation for Washington), which would authorize a few more ways for local governments to raise money for transit:

- Progressive Motor Vehicle Excise Tax based on vehicle value
- Vehicle License Fee based on annual mileage
- Fuel Efficiency-based Tax that rewards clean and efficient vehicles
- Allowing the local sales tax to be applied to gasoline

It's a little late in the game to drop a new bill, and it doesn't sound like White even expects it to pass. "Never say never, but that is not an expectation," he told me. But, he added: "It's really important to start the conversation on this. I think our top priority is to get the congestion fee bill through the legislature. This local transit act is a separate bill, but we need to be having a conversation about how we are going to fund our transportation infrastructure in the future."