Liias introduces bill that would allow transit agencies to levy $30 fee

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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.”

13 COMMENTS

  1. There is no such thing as temporary tax. This might be ok if the funds are used only to provide better serivce and not capital projects

  2. At least Mr. Liisa is trying to find solutions instead of the constant complaining by everyone else. It might not be the total solution but he’s thinking.

  3. Thinking??? Taking more of everyone’s money isn’t thinking. It’s the classic liberal solution of we waste most of your money now but, if you give us more we will finally have a solution.

    Is his definition of good transit thinking? Good transit is reducing the amount of time it takes someone to get to and from work, period!

    This is the same Liias who last week introduced legislation for a small business loan program and made sure there wasn’t any funding source. Was he thinking then too?

    Does he not realize that his constituents just had our taxes raised under the same guise used by the Edmonds City Council? Or maybe he just doesn’t really care. Or he is just spending a lot of time thinking.

    The thinking solution is to stop trying to force us to give up our cars and instead increase capacity on surface roads. Thinking would be to create tax incentives for businesses to locate outside of the downtown and eastside cores to alter commute patterns.

  4. @Scott H. –
    I agree that “forced use of transit” is hardly a solution. But burning our money to facilitate further reliance on single occupancy vehicles (increasing surface road capacity) to ensure we all continue our long commutes is also bad policy.

    Your focus at the end of your post is right on target. Don’t push people to take transit to a distant job. Instead, work with businesses and workers to see what the hurdles are to shortening up those commutes, and/or more including more telecommute days or alternate work hours. This solves a whole host of real problems without reallocating money.

    We don’t want to be “forced to give up our cars”. We need to create a system that works with less reliance on cars – one that people will CHOOSE to use.

    Ok, so where do we start? Would be great if we knew, say, a whole group of people who lived in/near Edmonds that had to commute to the same company or area in Seattle. Would make it an easy target for a test-case. Is there a reasonable first employer or group to approach? Are there programs already in place (like Commute Trip Reduction) that can be built upon?

  5. “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. ”

    This won’t reduce any congestion from my household.

    If this is aimed at commuters, then there should be a distance tax (since I work 1.2 miles from my house & usually walk) & also a ‘do you use your car to commute tax’ as this will cost the bus/train commuters who happen to own a car just as much money.

  6. If transit is ever going to work, it is going to have to be effecient and convient. ex. five corners to the U ofW dorms 1 1/2 hrs.That is not service. That is why I am opposed to tax increases until transit can show they have a real plan to provide convient service ” now” not 20 years from now.

  7. I don’t think that would be fair for people who have more than one vechicle. I have a car a truck three boats and 3 motorcycles and I am only one person thats$240.00 dollars and there is only one of me and I do not commute to work let the commuters pay for all that, there is nothing fair about that bill at all

  8. The “no taxes” rant is becoming tiresome. We have to either pay for our services or become self sufficient. The taxes we all pay do not cover the services we use. Keep complaining Scott. It gets us everywhere.

  9. @Hobbs

    That’s just the thing. I don’t “use” any where near the services my taxes amount to. So it’s easy for someone like you who must be a net user than a net payer to try to come across as being so righteous about wanting to pay more in taxes.

    How about this, pull out your checkbook and write a check for $10,000 to the city and then maybe you could begin to think about having a legitmate position to say anything about the taxes people like me pay.

    Of course, you never would actually voluntarily agree to pay more. You just want to make people like me to pay more so you can suck on the teet of government.

  10. Any discussion of transit and how to pay for it brings out viewpoints from every angle. What is often missing is a discussion of the cost factors and the subsidies that are needed to support such services. Mass transit works best when there is enough density to bring down the subsidies needed to pay the bills. The Sounder Rail service between Everett and Seattle is an interesting case study. Based on Sound Transit data the subsidy per rider is about $40 per trip while the revenue per rider is around $3 per trip. So for each rider the subsidy is about $80 per day or $16,000 per year. One wonders if we could come up with better ways to move people at costs far less and do it in ways that will protect the environment as well.

  11. Scott If you drive on the roads, send your kid to school, flush your toilet and drink water from inside your house then $10K doesn’t even come close to how much that all actually costs. Stop!

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