Prop. 1: Keep buses rolling

If motorists think traffic is nasty now, imagine it with another round of Metro transit cuts if King County Proposition 1 is defeated.

The measure, which would increase the county sales tax from 8.6 percent to 8.8 percent, is a response to the car-tab initiative that rolled back state vehicle licensing fees to $30. State money for roads and transit was slashed, and transit-dependent King County will get a serious hit.

The Legislature softened the blow with a one-time grant of $36 million, but 160,000 service hours were cut, and another 475,000 hours are at stake in next Tuesday's election.

Though the state Supreme Court struck down I-695, the financial impacts remain.

Transit has two kinds of clients. Commuters are a large bloc who ride the bus to work, but have an alternative.

Pare back bus routes, and more cars will blossom on roads.

The other group depends almost exclusively on buses for getting to work, shopping, church and medical appointments. These people, by reason of income, age or health, will be stranded if their buses disappear. Services for the disabled are instantly vulnerable.

This ballot proposition is a direct result of the shortsighted nature of I-695. Another clumsy initiative, an attempt to make up for an earlier cut in road construction and maintenance, would only make things worse.

Initiative 745 is a nutty swipe at transit that only spells more trouble and expense.

The county's Department of Transportation estimates the annual tax impact in a range from $30 to $77 for household incomes from $23,300 to $100,200.

The county would add 575,000 hours of bus services over six years, and buy 200 new buses. Money would be used for additional bus shelters, park-and-ride lots and synchronizing traffic lights in heavily traveled corridors.

Prop. 1 keeps buses rolling, and has the potential to expand service. If transit dries up, motorists will be among the first to notice.