It's SRO on Seattle area bus system

"Whatever list of problems you can give me, I can give you a longer list," says Steve Grissom, route planner for Metro Transit, in King County, Wash., which includes Seattle.

Transit ridership is up 6 percent nationally so far in 1980. But Metro is staggering under a 28.2 percent increase. This follows increases of 17.8 percent in 1979 and more than 10 percent in 1978.

This is due largely to Metro's marketing department.

For example, an agreement with Seattle First National Bank gives the bank's employees an annual bus pass as a fringe benefit. The bank is charged on actual ridership.

The University of Washington, one of Seattle's largest employers, is subsidizing monthly bus passes by $2 each -- which has seriously overloaded university-bound buses.

But the Metro also is looking for money. An increase in state funds it sought was blocked in the state Senate.

Pressure from King County lawmakers yielded a $3 million grant and authority to ask voters for a 0.3 percent local sales tax increase for transit.

The $3 million was assumed to help Metro survive until the sales tax took effect. But other transit agencies in the state say the money is to be split among them all.

The Metro Council is pondering its 1981 budget. Ridership is increasing. But state aid is in doubt. The local sales tax increase faces voters in November. Fares probably will increase. Public pressure has postponed service cuts. And the union's contract expires Oct. 31.

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