Earlier today I briefed the media on my proposal for a 25-cent increase in Metro Transit bus fares to offset the huge jump in the cost of diesel fuel that runs our buses. This was a very difficult choice because we are seeing record ridership each month. But I will not cut service when we need it most.
Some transit agencies have been forced to reduce service, but I believe this modest fare increase will help us maintain current service levels and roll out some additional service to meet the increased ridership demand while we see where gas prices are going.
We’ve looked for other options, like reducing other transit costs, but the increase in fuel prices is dramatic and unprecedented in our recent history as shown below.
Interestingly, former Labor Secretary of Labor Robert Reich recently blogged about the need for more transit as gas prices rise. I wholeheartedly agree.
We are not the only ones facing this difficult choice. Transit agencies across our region and across the country are all grappling with the same problem: how to pay for fuel that has increased in cost far beyond even expanded projections, just as we’re seeing unprecedented demand for transit. King County-Metro Transit surpassed 400,000 average daily boardings recently for the first time and we expect that trend to continue.
We are already starting Transit Now service expansions and will have another service increase in the fall, which will help reduce crowding on some routes.
If approved by the King County Council, the fare increase would take effect in October. By then, we hope to have a better idea of whether the gas price increases are here to stay and what other options we may have for dealing with them. You can read more about the proposed increase here.
Meantime, have a wonderful Independence Day and weekend.