May 14, 4:01 PM click here to comment > 1
This morning nearly 43% of commuters to downtown Seattle used transit to get to work. Throughout the day and across our city, buses help carry people to their jobs, to their schools, to their local businesses, and to their homes. The buses operated by King County Metro, Community Transit, Sound Transit, and other systems also help provide everyone with an affordable option to get around, saving households money at a time when gas prices continue to climb. Without transit, traffic would be worse. With transit, we can help reduce our carbon emissions.
Across America we’re seeing that more people are choosing to take transit. But here in Washington State we’re not keeping up with demand. In fact, we’re struggling to maintain funding for the bus system we already have.
Unless the state legislature steps up and provides us with the local revenue authority we need to preserve transit service, King County Metro will be forced to cut 17% of its bus service next year. Those cuts would be devastating to our community.
More people will have to wait longer for increasingly overcrowded buses, travel out of their way or transfer to make trips, or find another way altogether to get where they need to go. For many, driving would be the only alternative. That will hit low income communities especially hard. It’ll make traffic worse – equivalent to closing lanes on Interstate 5. And it will add more carbon emissions to our climate.
This problem has been coming for some time. That’s why I brought together 47 mayors from across the state to propose a solution to local communities’ transportation challenges. In February we agreed on a joint proposal that we brought to the governor and the legislature to provide us with new funding to support our transportation needs. In Seattle, those options will help us preserve and expand transit service, as well as tackle our road maintenance backlog. This was an unprecedented collaboration between mayors from both parties, from cities large and small, who all agreed that giving local governments these tools was essential to our economy and our quality of life.
This mayors’ coalition and other groups have lobbied our legislators to adopt new transportation revenue tools, including local options, in this legislative session so that we can avoid the catastrophe that would result from having to cut transit funding, and address our cities’ road maintenance backlog. Transit funding must be a top priority for our legislators. I urge them to come together, as we mayors have, around a common solution to keep our buses rolling on well maintained, local roads.
It’s time for your voice to be heard. King County Metro is soliciting feedback on the future of the system. If you would like to weigh in on these important issues, you can also contact your legislators. Seattle’s future is riding on this.
Posted by: Mayor Mike McGinn