The County Executive and a supermajority of seven County Council members this morning announced an agreement that combines the proposed $20 congestion reduction charge with additional actions to increase the transit system’s efficiency and give something back to car owners.
The following package of amendments to the original congestion reduction charge proposal will be presented to the full Council for action on Monday, Aug. 15:
- Develop a transit incentive program that offers bus tickets to people when they renew their car tabs. People can use the tickets to try transit or can donate the ticket value to a pool of nearly 150 human service agencies to provide mobility for those in need.
- Phase out the downtown Seattle Ride Free Area in October 2012. Today the City of Seattle pays Metro $400,000 a year to support the RFA, but that covers only about 18 percent of Metro’s $2.2 million annual cost to operate the RFA. Phasing out the RFA will increase fare revenue for Metro. Other advantages: Elimination of the RFA will simplify the transit system as riders will always pay when they board, deboarding away from downtown will be faster as people will be able to get off through any door, and fare evasion is expected to decline.
- Increase the pool of funds that provides discounted bus tickets to human service and homeless programs. Metro now sells human service agencies deeply discounted tickets worth nearly $2 million annually. Metro will either increase the current ticket allocation or further reduce the discount, while giving the public the option of donating their tickets under the incentive plan. Metro will seek the advice of human service agencies on how to best help those in need.
- Move ahead with right-sizing of service consistent with the Metro’s strategic plan. In communities where it makes sense, Metro will deploy lower-cost, more efficient Dial-a-Ride Transit (DART), community access transportation services, and vanpools.
- Consider routes that carry more riders due to the effects of highway tolling as candidates for added services. This is consistent with the principles to enhance Metro’s productivity developed by the Regional Transit Task Force and adopted in Metro’s strategic plan.