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By The Skanner News
Published: 20 August 2008

Rising fuel prices and an economic downturn have caused a record number of suburban residents to use Metro buses. Metro has used "Transit Now" funds for significant suburban route expansions in 2007 and 2008. However, the same forces driving demand for buses are also creating a funding crisis: Metro will receive $40 million less in sales tax revenue in 2008-2009 than originally projected and pay an extra $36 million for fuel.
The King County Council's next Town Hall Meeting Monday, Aug. 25, will focus on Metro Transit's efforts to expand suburban bus routes to meet skyrocketing demand, despite major funding challenges.
 "As fuel prices have increased, so has Metro ridership," said Councilmember Dow Constantine, chair of the Committee of the Whole and the Council's Transportation Committee. "Despite the financial challenges our transit system faces, we must find ways to continue to deliver as much service as possible to King County residents."
Councilmembers and the public will receive a briefing on implementation of the voter-approved "Transit Now" plan from Metro Transit General Manager Kevin Desmond and Service Development Manager Victor Obeso. Transit Now is using the voter-adopted one-tenth of one percent sales and use tax to expand public transit service in King County.
Metro staff will provide a briefing on the major funding challenges facing Metro and the options being considered to address the projected budget shortfall.
There will also be a panel discussion with members from the King County Transit Advisory Committee, who advise Metro Transit and county officials on transit issues and policies.
 The public will have an opportunity to ask questions and share their ideas on transit. The Council will also take open public testimony on any issue at the end of the program.
The meeting is at the Kentwood High School's Performing Arts Center, 25800 164th Avenue SE, Covington. The public is invited to meet face-to-face with King County Council members at an informal reception starting at 6 p.m. The Town Hall will begin at 6:30 p.m.

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