Time to Hand Over Your Car Lanes, Seattle Drivers

Martin Duke at Seattle Transit Blog has a post up today that laments the failure of Proposition 1, which will cut 550,000 service hours from King County Metro's bus service, and it includes this important point (emphasis mine):

One effect of the cuts will to be consolidate desirable service into a few trunk lines. It is more important than ever that these lines function effectively to avoid the total collapse of the system. In these corridors, cities must ignore complaints from other stakeholders and remove parking or general-purpose lanes to ensure these buses are not stuck in traffic. Moreover, future city transportation levies must invest in priority treatments for buses. The returns from these projects are often astronomical, and if anything the case for them has improved.

With a massive reduction in service hours, Metro must take other measures to ensure their transit services remain viable and convenient to as many users as possible. Converting mixed-use lanes to bus-only lanes is the best way to do this. There are going to be even more cars on Seattle roads when these cuts take effect, and commuters that continue using the bus will suffer as much as anyone, stuck in overfull vehicles behind the tens of thousands of cars clogging up local streets.

A majority of the county's drivers have made it clear that they're not interested in paying any additional money to support the transportation network in their cities, even when 40 percent of Prop 1 revenues would have gone to road maintenance. The average driver only pays a few hundred dollars a year in state gas taxes (which haven't increased since 2008), and current vehicle licensing fees are laughable relative to the needs of our transportation network. Transit users, on the other hand, have seen their fares increase by 80 percent in the past five years, or about $600 annually. It's time to turn over some of those roads to those that are actually willing to pay for them. The case has always been strong for more bus lanes in Seattle, but now it's imperative.