It’s amazing that it’s even a question. This city — riders, car commuters, our economy, sustainability — relies on transit. Yes there’s a cost, $20 per year per vehicle, but bus riders subsidize everyone. Of course we should save Metro.
How do bus riders subsidize everyone? By letting us avoid the astronomical cost of new highway capacity, and reducing traffic so drivers get places faster. By not requiring parking, which when “free” is paid for by all, not just by drivers. By letting businesses congregate in urban districts in ways that wouldn’t function if a larger percentage of people drove, particularly in central Seattle, Downtown Bellevue, etc., where transit usage is heavy. By giving low-wage workers a way to get to work, avoiding a host of social problems and their costs, starting with unemployment, and by giving higher-wage workers a way to live more sustainably.
Even for those able to drive instead of riding Metro, a reduction would generally require them to spend a larger percentage of their incomes on transportation. Much of this would come from discretionary spending, savings, and/or debt, all of which would weigh down the regional economy.
Even people who still ride metro, a reduction might mean longer commute times, with all the disruption that can entail.
Basically, a cut would be the anti-stimulus. For want of $20, an almost imperceptible change in our tax load, we’d hit this city and most of our residents with a flurry of sucker punches.
For those who think oil prices will keep rising, the stakes get even higher. Cities that have decent transit will weather high gas prices much better than cities that don’t.
I hope the County Council will pass the measure with a vote of six. That would save a lot of uncertainty and the cost of a ballot measure. With five from the Council, at least the public would get to vote. The measure would have a good chance — this is a patriotic metro, willing to pay for things that benefit the region and all of us.
Council, please lead!