City leaders investigate future of Route 200 bus

April 1, 2014

As King County residents vote whether to fund Metro Transit on April 22, city leaders are considering what to do with Route 200.

Issaquah pays a yearly subsidy to the county in order to keep the bus free of charge. But the city-centric route has been offered for the chopping block for years as Metro has faced increased expenditures. In response, the city has begun to survey residents who would most likely use the bus to try and get a clearer sense of its community impact.

City Economic Development Manager Andrea Lehner said the information would prove valuable for the city as well as the county.

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Editorial

January 1, 2013

2013 goals are imperative for Issaquah

Our news staff and editorial board put their heads together each year to create a list of 2013 goals for the Issaquah area. Some are repeats from former years, but are still waiting to be accomplished.

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Press Editorial

August 14, 2012

Hired lobbyist could be good investment

We like the idea of the city of Issaquah hiring a lobbyist to represent its interests in Olympia to state lawmakers.

The lobbyist will be there primarily to bring money back to the city, going after local “earmarks,” a term generally associated with Washington, D.C., and Congress.

It doesn’t quite seem right to invest taxpayer dollars to go after a bigger pot of taxpayer dollars, but that’s the reality of today. Think of it as a donor development manager, a position paid for by many nonprofits. Most cities the size of Issaquah now use a paid lobbyist.

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Developer requests $3 million from city for Issaquah Highlands retail center

November 22, 2011

In order to complete a long-planned business district in the Issaquah Highlands — and transform 14 acres into a cinema, shops, restaurants and more than 1,700 parking stalls — the developer behind the project said about $3 million in city funds is needed.

The developer, Florida-based Regency Centers, said the highlands project needs the dollars to complete roadwork and other infrastructure.

Regency and highlands developer Port Blakely Communities announced a deal in July to sell the land for a retail center, but before Regency completes the deal, company planners asked city leaders to commit public dollars to the project.

City officials said the retail complex could generate about $1 million in sales tax revenue each year.

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Metro Transit agreement preserves Issaquah routes

August 16, 2011

County Council enacts $20 vehicle-tab fee to generate transit dollars

Kathy Lambert

Kathy Lambert

Route 200 buses can continue rolling along downtown Issaquah streets due to a last-minute agreement to avert steep cuts to King County Metro Transit service.

King County Council members, after listening to more than 1,000 people urge against reduced bus service, enacted a $20 vehicle-tab fee Aug. 15 to forestall a 17-percent reduction to mass transit countywide. Metro Transit planners considered eliminating Issaquah-centric routes 200 and 927 in the proposed cutback.

In addition to enacting the vehicle-tab fee, the agreement calls for Metro Transit to phase out the free-ride zone in downtown Seattle in October 2012 and use smaller buses on less-popular routes as cost-saving measures. Metro Transit estimates eliminating the downtown Seattle free-ride zone should save $2.2 million.

The deal is meant to soften the impact of the economic downturn on cash-strapped Metro Transit. The sales tax revenues the agency uses to fund service plummeted due to the anemic economy.

“The people of King County voted with their feet, and they overwhelmingly turned out to tell us to save Metro Transit and keep bus service on the street,” County Executive Dow Constantine said in a statement. “They have been heard.”

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King County Council preserves Metro Transit service

August 16, 2011

NEW — 10:30 a.m. Aug. 16, 2011

King County Council members, after tense deliberations Monday, enacted a $20 increase to vehicle tab fees to halt a proposed 17-percent cut to Metro Transit bus service.

The council passed the 11th-hour agreement in a 7-2 decision — the supermajority needed to enact the fee outright, rather than sending the measure to voters. The fee — billed as a congestion-reduction charge — is due to take effect early next year.

The crucial support for the deal came from councilwomen Jane Hague and Kathy Lambert, both Eastside Republicans. Lambert represents Issaquah.

(The council is nonpartisan, although members often caucus along party lines.)

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King County Council delays Metro Transit fee decision

August 2, 2011

King County Council members listened to testimony from dozens of bus riders July 25 before delaying a planned decision on a measure to stave off cuts to Metro Transit service.

The council plans to discuss the issue again Aug. 15 — a day before a crucial ballot deadline.

The steepest proposed reduction in Metro Transit service could eliminate Route 200 in Issaquah and Route 927, a link between downtown Issaquah and the Sammamish Plateau, as early as next year.

Metro Transit faces a $60 million budget gap due to a decline in sales tax revenues. In order to close the gap, transit planners need to trim 600,000 hours from bus service — or 17 percent — through 2013.

County Executive Dow Constantine proposed the $20 vehicle-tab fee — billed as a congestion-reduction charge — for 2012-13 to generate funds for Metro Transit. If the fee is not enacted, Metro Transit plans to start widespread service cuts in February.

Council members could send the measure to voters on the November ballot or enact the fee outright. The deadline to place measures on the November ballot is Aug. 16.

County Council seeks input on proposed fee to bolster Metro Transit

July 24, 2011

NEW — 8 p.m. July 24, 2011

King County residents can offer input on a proposed $20 vehicle-tab fee to boost struggling Metro Transit at a County Council public hearing Monday.

The steepest proposed reduction in Metro Transit service could eliminate Route 200 in Issaquah and Route 927, a link between downtown Issaquah and the Sammamish Plateau, as early as next year.

County Executive Dow Constantine proposed the vehicle-tab fee — billed as a congestion-reduction charge — for 2012-13 to generate funds for Metro Transit. If the fee is not enacted, Metro Transit plans to start widespread service cuts in February.

Testimony on the vehicle-tab fee is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. Monday at the King County Courthouse, 516 Third Ave., Seattle.

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Deep Metro Transit cuts could halt Issaquah bus route

July 19, 2011

Route 200 is on chopping block as transit agency faces steep service reduction

Metro Route 200 bus riders Christina Martin and Paul Vranesh chat July 18 on their way from their residences in downtown Issaquah to work on Gilman Boulevard. By Greg Farrar

The proposed cuts to King County Metro Transit could create obstacles for commuters on cross-town trips, especially if the agency abolishes Issaquah-centric routes.

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Press Editorial

July 19, 2011

Get real, no more fees for buses

The King County Council should not approve a new tax for Metro buses or send it to the voters to decide. We do believe that new taxes will be needed to get government services operating, but a $20 car tab fee should be rejected.

The council is finishing its series of public hearings on implementing a new $20 fee on existing vehicle registration fees for each of the next two years. This money would maintain the levels of bus service at or near what they are right now.

Without the $20 fee, Issaquah could lose its downtown free bus, Route 200. We have long held that the free ride, subsidized by city taxes, should have a fare fee, even if it’s only a quarter. Another possibility is to limit Route 200 hours to morning and afternoon commuter times.

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