Budget cuts loom for Metro Transit

SEATTLE -- King County Metro briefed the Seattle City Council on its proposal for potential budget cuts Monday. The cuts would take effect if funding is not provided through legislative measures.

Metro is projecting a $75 million annual revenue shortfall that could force the agency to reduce bus service by as much as 17 percent beginning in fall 2014. Metro said it has identified 65 routes at risk for elimination and 86 routes at risk for service reductions.

The potential cuts would create a transit system with fewer travel options and longer travel times and buses on the remaining routes would become more crowded and less reliable, the agency said. It added that it has been able to avoid cuts by saving or generating revenue totaling $798 million through operating more efficiently, cutting staff, increasing fares and using reserve funds, as well as the implementation of the congestion reduction charged (CRC), a temporary $20 charge on vehicle licenses. The CRC ends in 2014 and Metro also will no longer have reserve funds to spend on operations.

Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen said that losing the CRC funding would also "eliminate many commuter express routes and some neighborhoods will lose all service."

"Our legislative leaders need to demonstrate their ability to get things done and find solutions that preserve Metro bus service and boost our economic recovery," councilmember Tim Burgess said.