King County Executive Dow Constantine had an undeniably successful stretch last week (yea tunnel, yay Brightwater, yea veterans and human services levy).
Constantine's heaviest lift last week, however, was getting the King County Council to pass the $20 vehicle license fee to save Metro service, a compromise that included getting rid of the downtown ride-free area.
On C.R. Douglas' new show for Q13 Fox last night, Constantine explained his support for eliminating the downtown ride-free area, the key part of the license fee deal:
First of all, most of our riders are able to pay the fare. The majority have a pass. ... Those who can't afford the bus have the option of our voucher program. We put $2 million a year into our voucher program and we're going to increase that. ... I don't have a monopoly on good ideas. I'm open to good ideas from Republicans and Democrats. There are good reasons to keep it and good reasons to eliminate it now. Conditions have changed since 1973 when it was first put in place. The downtown business environment is much more robust now.
Last week's Cola ThinkTank took up the debate over ending the ride-free area.
Today's loser: Suburban transit.
Tacoma Tomorrow breaks down the numbers, but here's the gist: Voters in suburban and exurban Pierce County have rejected transit measures three times since 2007, and there's no reason to think they'll shift in favor of transit in 2012, when Pierce Transit might return to the ballot to try to save its transit service. (Pierce County voters most recently rejected a sales-tax measure to preserve service this past February, triggering service cuts of 35 percent).
Meanwhile, service to far-flung suburban areas of Pierce County is neither cost-effective (it costs too much per rider) nor politically tenable (many areas that are asked to vote for transit aren't served by transit anymore). Tacoma Tomorrow's prescription: Re-draw the Pierce Transit boundaries to eliminate some of Pierce County's 163 "transit-hostile" districts and tax only those districts that want (and are served by) transit, like Tacoma, Lakewood, Puyallup, Gig Harbor, and Fife.