Legislation introduced earlier this week by State Rep. Marko Liias, D-Edmonds, would give transit agencies the ability to temporarily institute a $30 “congestion reduction charge” on vehicle license renewals. The bill is limited to King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, where service cuts have limited transit options for communities relying on them.
“People here know good transit options benefit the whole community, not just those on the train or bus,” Liias said in a news release issued by his office. “While the economy struggles, more people are choosing to save money by using transit, making this exactly the wrong time to stand idly by while massive cuts are made.”
Under House Bill 1536, each agency could enact, through a vote of the board or a public vote, a congestion reduction charge of up to $30. The charge would be paid at the same time as vehicle license renewals, and all funds would be dedicated to transit operations and capital projects.
The charge would be temporary and would end in December 2013.
Community Transit’s CEO Joyce Eleanor said she is supportive of the legislation, especially now during the economic slowdown.
“While the economy has not yet recovered, people are returning to work and many of them will rely on transit to be there for them to get to work,” Eleanor said. “Transit makes our roads more efficient. Having less transit service available forces people to either add to traffic or become less productive, delaying the recovery even longer.”
Community Transit has had to cut service, including suspension of bus service all Sundays and major holidays, due to declining sales tax revenues.
According to the news release, the bill has bipartisan support, including support from 30 cosponsors, representing legislators from across the state. The proposal also includes accountability measures, including the development of a congestion reduction plan and two reports to the Legislature on the use of funds.
“Good transit means cleaner air, reducing our need for foreign oil, transportation for car-free families, and ultimately, a better quality-of-life in our communities,” Liias said. “This temporary, optional tool will allow counties to decide locally what will keep their communities strong.”