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King County Council passes $20 car-tab vote

After a four-hour delay Monday afternoon, Aug. 15, the King County Council voted 7 to 2 to enact a two-year $20 congestion reduction charge and avert a 17 percent cut of Metro bus service starting in 2012.

Councilmembers Reagan Dunn and Pete von Reichbauer, who both voted no, wanted an option that would have sent the fee to a vote of the people in November.

Under the state’s authorizing legislation, the $20 car-tab tax would take effect six months after the measure is signed into law.

Under the proposed legislation, King County Metro Transit would:

• Develop a Transit Incentive Program to provide eight bus tickets worth up to $24 for each car tab renewal. People can use the tickets or  donate the value of those tickets to a pool of nearly 150 human service agencies to provide mobility for those in need.

• Phase out the downtown Seattle Ride Free Area in October 2012.  When first established in 1973 as the “Magic Carpet Zone,” a city subsidy funded 100 percent of the fares Metro no longer collected in that area. Today the city of Seattle pays Metro $400,000 a year to support the RFA, which is about 18 percent of the $2.2 million annual cost for Metro to operate the RFA.

• Increase the pool of funds that provides sharply discounted bus tickets to human service and homeless programs.

• Implement right-sizing of service consistent with the Transit Strategic Plan. In communities where it makes sense, Metro will deploy lower-cost, more efficient Dial-a-Ride Transit service (DART), community access transportation services, Vanpools and vanshares, making service more efficient and responsive to our riders.

• Consider routes that carry more riders due to the effects of highway tolling as candidates for added services.

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