Good news for bus riders: King County Council cancels February bus cuts, at least for now

SEATTLE -- Some surprising good news has arrived for King County bus riders, for a change.

The King County Council on Monday tabled — until completion of the Ccunty’s 2015-2016 budget — any further service reductions on Metro Transit bus service. This action canceled the proposed bus cuts and service changes slated for February.

Last Saturday, the first bus cuts kicked in -- and the second phase was to take place in February. The February reductions have been canceled, for the time being.

"I am pleased that there is now consensus to cancel further service cuts to allow the County Council to complete the King County budget and for Seattle voters to act in November on Seattle’s Proposition 1" to pay more to keep current bus service," County Councilman Rod Dembowski said. "This is an approach that a majority of us on the County Council supported from the outset.”

Some are now wondering whether Metro exaggerated earlier numbers in hopes of securing a tax package from voters earlier this year.  But Metro’s general manager on Wednesday defended the agency’s planning and communication.

“We’ve been doing this totally out in the open,” said Kevin Desmond.  “We’ve been transparent in what we’ve been doing. We’ve been talking about this for a very long time.”

Desmond rejected the idea that Metro had been deliberately trying to create a gloomy scenario.

“These are not scare tactics,” he said.  “This is the reality of getting our finances finally in order.”

The news comes less than two months before Seattle voters will be asked raise the sales tax and car tab fees to save King County bus routes from being cut within the city.