The King County Council has reached a deal to pass a $20 increase in car tab fees to provide additional revenue for Metro Transit, according to sources.

The council had been deadlocked on the proposal but an about face by two members – Jane Hague and Kathy Lambert – should carry the $20 car tab fee to passage when the council votes Monday.

Hague and Lambert each cited major improvements from the fee proposal previously under consideration as the reason for their decision.

In addition to holding steady at King County’s claim to save 600,000 service hours per year, the new proposal will also eliminate the free ride zone in downtown Seattle, provide full implementation of “pay as you enter” fare capture systems, and give those paying the fee “about $20” in Metro bus tickets, among other reforms and efficiencies.

The apparent compromise avoids sending the proposal to the voters. Proponents of a fee increase have seen a public vote as a wildcard option, especially during a time when voters have taken a dim view of tax increases in recent elections. Hague, who is in the fight of her political career against three challengers in next week’s primary election, had previously said she would not bypass the voters to enact a hike in car license fees.

When asked for comment, Hague’s staff sent NW Daily Marker the official statement from the council in which Hague offered an explanation for the change of heart:

“This is a very different legislative package from what was initially proposed,” said Councilmember Hague.  “This deal offers real reform.  It cuts waste, creates jobs and provides equity to the Eastside. It’s important we keep people moving while reforming Metro.”


[photo credit: flickr]