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County Council Town Hall to focus on impact of light rail and challenges of Metro budget gap


Keeping service on the streets despite drop in sales tax revenues that support transit


A new era of public transportation in the region began this summer with the arrival of Link light rail. The next Town Hall Meeting of the Metropolitan King County Council will focus on the impact light rail will have on the regional transit system, and the fiscal challenges facing Metro Transit, which is facing a deficit of $213 million for 2010-2011.

The Town Hall, a special meeting of the Council’s Committee of the Whole, will be held on Wednesday, September 30 at the Rainier Vista Boys and Girls Club, 4520 Martin Luther King Jr. Way South, Seattle—one block north of Sound Transit’s Columbia City Light Rail station. The public is invited to meet with Councilmembers at an informal reception starting at 6:00 p.m. The Town Hall will begin at 6:30 p.m.

“The start of light rail is changing the face of public transit in many of the communities I represent, and I want to hear how those changes are affecting the lives of people who depend on public transportation,” said Councilmember Larry Gossett, host of the Town Hall. “I’m also look forward to bringing citizens, experts, and councilmembers together to discuss the changes we will need to make to continue meeting the needs of the millions of riders who use public transportation in King County.”

“As a regular Metro commuter, I understand the impact that proposed service cuts would have on riders,” said Councilmember Bob Ferguson, Chair of the Committee of the Whole. “This Town Hall is an opportunity for the public to have a role in the reshaping of transit in our community.”

The public and the committee will receive briefings from: 

• Ron Tober, Deputy CEO of Sound Transit, on the opening of Link light rail July 18, 

• Metro Transit’s Victor Obeso, Manager of Service Development, and Jack Lattemann, Transportation Planner, on the integration and restructuring of bus service with the arrival of light rail, 

• Metro Transit General Manager Kevin Desmond, on Metro’s budget gap and the agency’s service reduction strategy in the wake of declining revenues.

Presenters will take questions from the audience and Councilmembers will take public testimony on any issue at the end of the program.

A sharp drop in the sales tax revenues that support bus service led to the current projection of a $213 million shortfall in the 2010-2011 biennium.

More about Town Halls
Town Halls are part of Councilmembers’ initiative to “get out of the courthouse” and into the communities they serve. In 2009, the Council has been in Carnation to hear from the public on the County’s response to the winter weather emergencies; in Renton to discuss the services provided by Public Health; in Shoreline to review the services available for King County veterans; in Bellevue to learn more about the Mountains to Sound Greenway; in Auburn to focus on several innovative criminal justice programs taking proactive steps to reduce crime; and in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood to discuss steps being taken to encourage economic recovery and development .

Each Town Hall is a special meeting of the Council’s Committee of the Whole, the only standing committee on which all nine members serve. It considers legislation and policy issues of interest to the entire Council.

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