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King County officials plan Metro Transit cuts in fall

With the defeat of King County Transportation District Proposition 1, King County officials plan to prepare for a reduction in transit service starting this fall.

With a second count of ballots reported Wednesday afternoon by King County Elections, Proposition 1 is behind with a 54.5 percent no vote.

“The voters have not rejected Metro. They have voted against this particular means of funding Metro – the only one available under state law. A state transportation package has always been our first choice. But, after years of trying, time ran out for action in Olympia,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine in a media release. “We gave the voters a choice, and presented a proposal for saving Metro Transit and maintaining our roads. They have chosen a reduced level of service, and we will carry out the will of the voters. Tomorrow (Thursday) I will transmit legislation to the King County Council to reduce service by 550,000 hours and eliminate 72 bus routes.

“I want to thank the unprecedented coalition that backed this effort, and all the volunteers who worked so hard on it, as well as the thousands of bus operators who keep our communities moving each day."

“The impact of the forthcoming cuts will be widespread and impact every community in King County. I am committed to making them as fair as possible,” said Councilmember Rod Dembowski, chair of the Council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee. “To do that, the Transportation, Economy and Environment committee will be conducting several public hearings as we implement our policy governing service reductions. Dates and times of these meetings will be shared with the public soon.”

Proposition 1 would have implemented a $60 vehicle fee and increased the King County sales tax by 0.1 percent, with the revenues being directed toward maintaining Metro Transit bus service at its current hours and supporting road repair and maintenance in cities. With the rejection of Proposition 1, starting in September, Metro will implement the adopted phased-in plan to eliminate 72 bus routes and reduce or revise another 84 routes to live within reduced revenues.

The County Council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee is preparing to hold a series of special night meetings to receive public comment on the executive’s proposed legislation, which the full Council is expected to act on before the end of May.

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