The Seattle City Council has unanimously approved sending a measure to the November ballot to save King County’s Metro bus service, but it will be too little too late for Capitol Hill’s Route 47. The $45 million plan (PDF) would prevent several rounds of Metro cuts, but not before the 47 and several other lines are slashed in the first round of service reductions scheduled for September.
The measure, first proposed by Mayor Ed Murray in May, is basically a local version of the county-wide Proposition 1 which failed to pass in April. The Seattle plan would raise sales taxes by .1% and add a $60 vehicle licensing fee in the city.
The council rejected an amendment proposed by council members Kshama Sawant and Nick Licata that may have saved the 47 by replacing the sales tax increase with an annual $18 employee head count tax and increasing the tax paid by commercial parking lot operators from 12.5% to 17.5%. Those revenue streams could have been enacted by council before the September cuts took place.
On the plus side, Murray’s plan has a solid chance of passing. Over 66% of Seattle voters approved Prop. 1 and nearly 80% of voters in Capitol Hill’s 43rd legislative district approved the measure, which included road funding that the current plan leaves out.
After Eastside and rural King County voters torpedoed Prop. 1, CHS’s Bus Stop said this about the 47’s deep history in the neighborhood:
The 47 is Seattle’s shortest trolley bus line, connecting downtown with one of the densest census tracts on the west coast of the US. For 105 years, a bus or streetcar has come up the Hill from downtown, dropped passengers off on Summit Avenue as it headed north, turned around once it hits Lakeview Boulevard, and then headed back down Bellevue Avenue. Its frequency may have gone up or down as the years elapsed, and the 13 streetcar turned into the 14 bus to Mount Baker, which was eventually decoupled to form the downtown-only 47. But this bus has always been here. That looks about to change.