Councilman urges state to act to protect bus service
Legislation introduced in Olympia could help county cope with budget crises, says Phillips
King County Council member Larry Phillips is calling on Olympia for legislation to help stabilize King County services and prevent transit cuts.
“In tough economic times, people rely even more heavily on public transit as a means to save money getting to and from work and other activities, but the latest forecasts show that service cuts will soon be unavoidable unless we find effective solutions,” said Phillips in a statement released today. “We need legislation from Olympia that will provide Metro with stability during economic downturns and the means to keep service growing with demand.”
Metro announced earlier this week it projects to face a $100 million funding gap in 2010, which could require cutting between 800,000 to 1,000,000 annual service hours, or about 20 percent of Metro’s service. This comes at a time when Metro's demand is the highest recorded.
Metro reports its ridership has grown 20 percent in the last three years.
“Up until now, we have been able to keep service rolling by finding operating efficiencies, raising fares, and dipping into reserves, but with those options nearly exhausted, our backs are up against the wall and service cuts may be the only option left,” said Phillips. “It’s critical that we press that point with the public and Olympia because cutting service is the wrong answer for King County families, businesses, and the environment.”
Phillips said he supports a request by Metro for state legislation that would allow King County to enact a 1 percent motor vehicle excise tax for transit funding. The proposed legislation has not yet been introduced.
Phillips currently represents the Ballard and Crown Hill neighborhoods on the King County Council. He recently announced he will run for King County Executive, the position held by Ron Sims, who was tapped by President Barack Obama to serve in his administration as Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).