The King County Council voted 7-2 on Aug. 15 to pass a $20 car-tab fee that's expected to stop massive cuts to Metro Transit bus lines.
The deal that councilmembers struck to pass the temporary, two-year fee also calls for ending the Ride Free Area in downtown Seattle.
Metro will start collecting fares downtown in October 2012, bringing in a projected $2.2 million a year. The new car-tab fee will raise $25 million annually, closing most of a $60 million shortfall Metro faces in the wake of the recession and a decline in sales tax revenue.
To close that gap, Metro had proposed a 17 percent cut in service affecting 177 bus lines ("No fare," RC, July 20).
King County Executive Dow Constantine proposed the council pass the $20 car tab, but some members said voters should decide. To avoid possible defeat at the polls, the executive worked out a deal that calls, in part, for the county to make more bus tickets available to the homeless through human services providers.
The deal also calls for trying to get more drivers out of their cars by giving them eight bus tickets at the time they pay the new $20 fee.
The new fee starts in mid-February and comes on top of a car-tab fee that the City of Seattle enacted in May and a potential $60 increase the city council is sending to voters this fall.