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County Executive and Council to take next steps with defeat of Proposition 1

From a press release:

With the defeat of King County Transportation District Proposition 1, King County must 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 press 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 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,” he added.

“The defeat of Proposition 1 means King County will make the adjustments necessary to ensure that Metro Transit provides service with the funding that’s available,” said County Council Chair Larry Phillips, chair of the King County Transportation District (KCTD). “King County’s focus will not waver: we will continue to maintain a public transit service that has been nationally-recognized for doing our level best to get people where they need to go. But everyone must recognize that with the loss of funds, it will take a little longer to get there and you may have to go farther to get to the bus you need.”

“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.”

“I am saddened that in the coming months we will see dramatic cuts to our region’s bus service. But, the voters have spoken, and it is our responsibility to carry out their wishes,” said Council Vice Chair Joe McDermott, chair of the Council’s Budget and Fiscal Management Committee. “We will not stop our efforts to get more sustainable and fair revenue options from Olympia.”

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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