Have Mercy

Have mercy
Been waitin’ for the bus all day…
Have mercy
Oh the bus be packed up tight…
Well, Ill be ridin’ on the bus till I cadillac*

An unprecedented funding gap could force King County Metro Transit to cut bus service by as much as 20 percent next year, leaving thousands of people without service and setting back the region’s efforts to relieve traffic congestion.

Because two thirds of Metro’s budget is derived from sales tax, it’s fortunes are linked to the whims of the consumer confidence index, which is currently at its lowest level since it was created in 1967.  Meanwhile, Metro ridership has risen by 20 percent over the past three years. 

Another twist:  Additional transit service is a key piece of the so-called bored tunnel hybrid solution to replace the Alaskan Way viaduct.  This fact is not lost on those who are looking for ways to shoot down the tunnel proposal because they still favor an elevated freeway solution.  And the prospect of an elevated monstrosity rearing its ugly head again is not lost on those still in the surface street camp, who, however peeved they may be that the transit component of the tunnel proposal has vaporized, are likely conflicted over how much noise to make about it. 

The deep-bore tunnel would likely cost at least $2 billion more than a surface option.  That cost difference would cover Metro’s projected 2010 deficit of $100 million for 20 years.

*Waiting for the Bus lyrics by ZZ Top