Motorists in King County will soon see a $20 increase in car registration tabs starting June 1 after state and county politicians voted last year to allow the additional charge to preserve King County Metro bus service.
The charge begins with June renewals sent out by the state Department of Licensing and will be collected through May 2014, according to a press release from King County. King County Metro will also hand out eight free bus tickets to each household with a registered vehicle, which was included as part of the fee hike.
temporarily maintains the current level of King County Metro Transit bus service. The fee will raise $50 million of a $60 million revenue shortfall that had been projected in the next few years, according to Metro Transit.
Had the car tab hike failed, Mercer Island bus service — with over 30 percent of bus service and several routes consolidated or eliminated.
“This Congestion Reduction Charge will allow us to maintain our overall system over the next two years and make the best use of every transit dollar available,” Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond said in a prepared statement.
The County is currently developing a new biennial budget that will determine how far into 2014 Metro will be able to maintain service without additional funding sources, according to the press release.
Eastside King County council members Jane Hague and Kathy Lambert, who initially did not support the county council's efforts to raise the car tab fee without going to voters, after negotiating the preservation of Eastside routes and the inclusion of the bus vouchers. The conditions also included at the end of September.
As part of the changes to the system, Metro also is reducing or eliminating routes with few riders and restructuring corridors that have duplicative service, according to a Metro transit press release. Through these restructuring efforts, Metro will be improving service on many routes, the press release stated.
Part of the legislation on the $20 increase included eight free bus vouchers for each household with registered vehicles. The tickets may also be donated to selected social services and charities.
When vehicle owners register their vehicles, the registration will include an invitation to obtain the eight free bus tickets. . The tickets are only good for King County Metro Transit and not transferable to other public transportation services, such as Sound Transit.
On the web
For more information about the Congestion Reduction Charge, visit www.kingcounty.gov/metro/crc. For information about Metro’s ticket incentive program and eligibility requirements, go to www.kingcounty.gov/metro/tip