Hundreds of people volunteered their time last night to sign in or testify to the King County Council in Seattle, most of them in support of the Congestion Reduction Charge (CRC). The CRC is a two-year, $20 annual fee on car tab renewal and would prevent a 17% reduction in bus service that would fully cut many routes.
The Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee hearing may have had the attention of Seattle residents, but two committee members, Pete von Reichbauer and Jane Hague, were notably absent from last night’s meeting.
The line to testify took over a full block of downtown and looped around the King County Courthouse. County officials said that this was probably the biggest public comment in King County history. Nearly everyone spoke in favor of approving keeping current bus service, but a non-trivial contingent argued that instead of charging car owners a flat fee with the CRC, we should tax the rich and businesses. Ultimately, King County has no revenue authority from the state beyond the car tab fee to fund bus service, despite incorrect claims made by some who gave testimony.
I gave my own testimony around 9:45 pm after joining the line of people near 6 pm. I argued that a CRC measure sent to voters would enter a crowded ballot, cost progressive groups hundreds of thousands of dollars to campaign for, and needlessly put Metro’s future at risk. I urged the council to adopt the CRC by a 6-vote supermajority.
If you weren’t able to make it last night, please consider attending the next meeting in Burien or writing to the council. On July 25th, the council plans to ultimately decide whether to adopt the CRC by a supermajority, send the CRC to voters with 5 council votes, or cut bus service.