Make It Rain, Seattle: Suburban Councilmembers Propose Saving Metro by Charging Riders, City More

They're doing it for our own good. It's going to hurt them more than it's going to hurt us. King County Councilmembers Julia Patterson, Reagan Dunn, Kathy Lambert, and Pete Von Reichbauer put forward their own plan to close Metro's budget deficit, and it's a spanking.

Some of the proposal's key elements: Cut the ferry routes that everyone else would cut, scale back the Transit Now package to whatever the .1% sales tax increase can pay for (420,000 hours over 7 years, instead of 590,000), make Seattle pay more for its ride-free zone (it currently pays Metro $400,000 a year, though the zone speeds up service downtown, as buses aren't bogged down by fare collection on the most congested streets), and make everyone pay a lot more to ride. Their plan would raise fares $.25 for each of the next four years, making a one-zone rush-hour bus ride $3.00. Yowza! Council spokesperson Al Sanders says there's been no mention of an off-set for low-income riders, but that the proposal is just a beginning for negotiations.

One thing the proposal makes clear is that the next exec is going to have their work cut out for them bridging the city/suburb divide. While Seattle remains pissed off about the 40/40/20 formula (whereby it gets only 20% of new Metro service hours), the 'burbs aren't too happy with the benefits Seattle gets. Says Lambert in the release, "During this financial crisis we cannot continue to provide benefit to Seattle residents, at the expense of the rest of the region." (Which is somehow different from the empty off-peak buses currently roaming the Eastside.) Have fun, next exec.

Update: Metro's chief tells the PostGlobe that Seattle actually isn't underpaying.

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