The King County Council is poised to approve a following the decision by Eastside representatives Jane Hague and Kathy Lambert to throw their support behind the measure in exchange for a set of conditions.
The added fees are intended to make up for a decline in sales tax revenue that funds Metro bus service in the county.
Lambert and Hague, who had previously opposed the fees, announced their changed position Friday morning. Their support gives the council the supermajority to enact the fees without voter approval. Councilmembers Larry Phillips, Bob Ferguson, Larry Gossett, Joe McDermott, and Julia Patterson had previously stated their support.
“This bipartisan agreement addresses my primary concerns and offers real reform for Metro,” Hague said in a council news release. “It’s critical that we keep people and businesses moving on the Eastside – especially during these tough economic times. This new package creates jobs and provides equity for the Eastside.”
Lambert, who represents Woodinville and Hague agreed to support the fees in exchange for a set of requirements calling for Metro to operate more efficiently. These conditions, as listed in a council news release, include:
- Developing a Transit Incentive Program to provide eight bus tickets worth up to $24 for each car tab renewal.
- Phasing out the downtown Seattle Ride Free Area in October 2012.
- Increasing the pool of funds that provides sharply discounted bus tickets to human service and homeless programs.
- Implementing right-sizing of service consistent with the Transit Strategic Plan.
- Considering routes that carry more riders due to the effects of highway tolling as candidates for added services.
“We’re working together in a bipartisan fashion, unlike those in Washington, D.C.,” Lambert said in the news release. “People in these uncertain economic times need certainty that they have an alternative method such as buses to get to work. There are many systemic changes in the new package that will help meet the needs of efficiency, transparency and providing transportation.”
Metro had said it would need to cut bus service by 17 percent if the fees were not enacted. A council vote on the measure is scheduled to take place Monday.