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King County Metro plans to cut bus routes because of money shortage

  • Written by Briana Gerdeman, News Writer

BusPhoto by Briana Gerdeman. King County Metro will change or delete five of the six bus routes it operates in Woodinville if it doesn’t get more money from the state. If you take the bus, you might need to look for a new way to get around. King County Metro Transit may delete or revise 85 percent of bus routes next year if it can’t get more money to maintain service.

Four of the six bus routes serving Woodinville would be changed, one would be deleted entirely, and one — operated by Sound Transit — would remain unchanged.

Representatives of King County Metro are clear that they want to increase bus service, not reduce it, but whether they can do that depends on whether a transportation package under discussion in the state Legislature provides money for transit.

King County hopes the Legislature will approve a "local option" that would let the county ask voters to fund transit through an increase in the motor vehicle excise tax, said Jeff Switzer, public affairs coordinator for King County Metro Transit. Most of Metro’s money comes from sales tax, and revenue has been down since the economy took a turn for the worse in 2008. In addition, funding from a per-vehicle congestion reduction fee and mitigation money for bus service on the Alaskan Way Viaduct will end next summer.

"In point of fact, what we should be doing is growing," Kevin Desmond, general manager for King County Metro Transit, said at a meeting of the Washington State Transportation Commission.

If Metro has to cut service instead, "the impacts will be significant. It will increase congestion on the roadways and makes King County a place of diminished interest in economic activity."

The plan for possible cuts is based on three principles: productivity, social equity and geographic value. Metro tried to preserve highly-used routes and routes that serve low-income and minority communities.

Duplicate routes, routes that don’t travel fast enough because of traffic and routes with low ridership were cut, Switzer said.

Route 236, which runs between Woodinville and Kirkland, will be revised to run on a more direct route. The bus will run less often during midday, and service will end earlier.

Route 311 between Duvall and Seattle will have one fewer morning trip and one fewer afternoon trip.

Route 372, which now runs between Woodinville and Seattle, will eliminate the part of the trip east of UW Bothell, which means the bus will no longer stop in Woodinville. It will run more often at night and on weekends, and service will end later. But on weekends, it will only operate between Seattle and Lake City.

Route 931 between Bothell and Redmond will run only during commute hours – not during midday or at night. During commute hours, the bus will come less often.

Route 237 will be deleted. Route 522, which is operated by Sound Transit rather than King County Metro, has no proposed changes.

For people who rely on buses to get around, "the bus may not work for them anymore," Switzer said. "They may have to drive or find other ways to get where they need to be."

For example, they might have to drive farther to a park-and-ride to catch the bus.

For more information about changes to bus service and to give your feedback, see metro.kingcounty.gov/am/future/ for information about specific routes and a survey.

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