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King County Metro details major service cuts and revisions due to lack of state funding

  • Written by King County Dept. of Transportation

Metro may have to cancel 74 bus routes, reduce or revise 107 others, startingJune 2014.

The consequences of inaction to date on stable and sustainable funding for public transit were spelled out last Thursday, as King County Metro Transit detailed drastic cuts to bus service that must be planned now in the absence of funding.

Temporary funding dedicated for Metro Transit expires next year, and Metro has exhausted its reserves and implemented many efficiencies and cost-savings.

Metro’s service guidelines identify the need for increasing service by 15 percent – but without funding in place after next year, Metro released a proposal that details up to 17 percent in cuts to bus service. The state legislature is again considering statewide transportation funding during a special session. But until a solution is finalized Metro Transit must take steps to prepare to cancel 74 bus routes and reduce service on another 107 routes starting next year. The proposed cuts are needed to reduce Metro’s costs and would affect riders and communities across King County beginning as soon as June 2014.

The proposed cuts would revert Metro’s service to levels not seen since 1997 – even as ridership nears all-time highs. Metro must plan service changes and notify the public months in advance of potential implementation, and will launch a wide outreach effort to inform riders of any such changes. Three months of public meetings are planned prior to the King County Council’s consideration next spring of the proposed service cuts that would have to begin as soon as next June, with more cuts to follow through 2014 and 2015.

Metro is launching a public outreach effort to inform tens of thousands of riders who face the prospect of losing transit service. Metro plans a series of public meetings in November, December and January to explain the proposed cuts and answer rider questions. King County supports a comprehensive state transportation package to address highway issues in our region and provide a local funding option for Metro.

The King County Council will consider finalizing the proposed cuts in spring, to be reviewed in light of updated financial forecasts available in March.

Planners worked to balance cuts across the county. Using its guidelines, Metro’s proposal takes steps to avoid harming those people most dependent on transit while reducing operating costs.

Metro’s strategic plan and service guidelines direct where transit service is prioritized. Transit planners analyzed spring 2013 ridership and route performance data to identify specific routes for cuts and revisions. Routes, trips or parts of routes up to the 50th percentile of performance were considered for deleting or reducing. If a route duplicates other service, meaning it runs along common segments or to the same destination(s), it also is more likely to be cut. Peak-period routes were considered for cuts by comparing travel time and ridership performance to the all-day service. Even routes that carry lots of riders are subject revision or consolidation with other routes to common destinations, to more efficiently operate with fewer resources.

Routes were less likely reduced if existing service already was below target service levels, determined in part by weighing the number of homes, jobs, and colleges nearby, and the number of people who rely on transit in areas that have high percentages of minority and low-income residents. In recent years, Metro has shifted resources from less efficient transit service to buses that travel where riders need them most.

If the proposed 17 percent service  reductions are imposed on the fixed route system, ADA paratransit service may also face reductions.

Public outreach, meetings on the Eastside

Metro plans public meetings and other informational opportunities throughout the county during the next three months. Riders with questions or comments can visit Metro’s service cuts page for more information. On social media channels, riders can use #KCMetroCuts to join the conversation.

• Bellevue: Wednesday, Dec. 11, 6- 8 p.m., Bellevue City Hall

• Kirkland: Thursday, Jan. 16, 6- 8 p.m., Peter Kirk Community Center

• North King County: Monday, Jan. 27, 6-8 p.m., Lake Forest Park City Hall

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