County Council stalls February Metro cuts

The King County Council is postponing a vote on additional cuts to Metro bus service in February for further discussion during the fall budget process.

The King County Council is postponing a vote on additional cuts to Metro bus service in February for further discussion during the fall budget process.

Metro was able to find ways to reduce its proposed transit cuts by 16 percent, from 550,000 hours to 400,000 hours through 2016. The council was to vote Monday on another 169,000 hours in reduced service, starting with 16 routes being cut in February, but deferred legislation back to its transportation committee over optimism new revenue projections could alter plans.

County councilmembers were told Monday financial strategies like cutting bus purchases, increased efficiencies and cutting the workforce in line with service has reduced Metro’s proposed cuts by 200,000 hours, from its original proposal of 600,000 hours. Metro also expects a $5 million savings from a drop in diesel fuel costs over the next two years.

Higher sales tax collections than projected in the 2013-14 budget are what gave Metro confidence to change its outlook on service cuts, but Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond told council Monday he’s skeptical of projections that revenue will grow by about 5 percent annually.

The council is also waiting for the results of Seattle’s Proposition 1 measure on November ballots, which would do what a countywide measure was proposed to do last year, adding a car-tab fee and sales-tax increase. That would allow the city to buy back lost service in Seattle, and postpone February cuts to June, according to legislation deferred by council on Monday.

That legislation still provides an option for cities to buy back lost service hours, which the city of Bellevue is still considering.


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