City councilman enlisted to envision future of mass transit
March 16, 2010
By Warren Kagarise
King County Executive Dow Constantine appointed Issaquah Councilman Fred Butler to the new Regional Transit Task Force meant to advise county leaders on the future of Metro Transit services.
The executive announced the appointment and 27 others Feb. 22. King County Council members approved the appointments March 1.
The panel includes elected officials and representatives from business, labor, education and human service agencies, as well as Metro riders.
Constantine also appointed AtWork! Chief Development Officer Jane Kuechle to the group.
The nonprofit organization operates a recycling facility in Issaquah. AtWork! helps people with disabilities learn marketable skills and find and maintain jobs.
“The diversity of this group will attempt to balance that suburban and rural areas receive attention to transit needs in addition to urban areas,” Councilwoman Kathy Lambert, who represents Issaquah, said in a March 1 news release. “The depth of knowledge and experience brought together on this task force is extraordinary. I am grateful these community leaders are willing to serve in the pursuit of varied and creative transit funding solutions.”
A sharp drop in the sales tax revenue led to a projected $213 million revenue shortfall for Metro through 2011. The transit agency raised fares, and plans another fare hike next year. But a projected shortfall remains forecast 2012 through 2014. The gap could require officials to cut about 500,000 annual service hours.
To respond to the problem, the council directed Constantine to convene a task force to address the issue.
The task force — with members from across King County — will develop policy options for discussion by July and adopt recommendations by September.
Butler, a longtime councilman, acts as the resident expert on transportation issues. He also serves on the Sound Transit Board of Directors. Constantine reappointed Butler to the Sound Transit post late last year.
“I’ve asked this cross-section of regional leaders and transit users to engage in a discussion about how we can best deliver transit service for all parts of the county within the resources we have,” Constantine said in a Feb. 22 statement. “I deliberately sought a group of people who are willing to put aside political divisions and think creatively about how to plan a transit system that will serve us well in the future.”