Northwest NEWS

December 20, 1999

Local News

Council asks Sims for 'lifeline' bus service

by Marshall Haley, staff reporter

   SEATTLE--The King County Council's Regional Transit Committee has drafted a letter to County Executive Ron Sims asking him to reconsider some of the 200,000 hours of transit service cuts scheduled to take effect in February. Sims proposed the cuts to trim the budget after the county lost 30 percent of its transportation revenues from passage of I-695.

   Councilmember Maggi Fimia, chair of the Regional Transit Committee (RTC), said the tight timeline Sims had to make the year 2000 budget cuts after the November election required him to invoke his emergency powers, which bypassed the normal review process for changes in Metro service. The RTC wants Sims to consider restoring "lifeline" services--routes that represent the only Metro service in certain communities. Duvall, Carnation, and Fall City are among the outlying areas most likely affected.

   "We must protect the needs of our transit-dependent citizens, those whose only transit options are the one or two buses that serve their neighborhoods," said Fimia.

   Councilmember Rob McKenna, RTC vice-chair, said Metro should give riders more time to adjust to the service changes.

   "The Regional Transit Committee, along with members of our citizen transit advisory committee, feels there are some compelling reasons to defer some of the service cuts at least until June 2000," said McKenna. "We understand that the deferrals we seek may well be temporary, but it would allow policy makers and affected riders to consider their options and respond in a reasonable timeframe."

   The RTC is asking Sims to reduce the February cuts to 143,391 hours, and then consider deferring additional cuts scheduled for June. That would allow time for normal public process hearings involving citizens, and county and city officials, said Fimia. The RTC is also concerned that too drastic service cuts could threaten various growth management plans, mobility projects, and congestion-relief programs.

   "We need to make these cuts with as much deliberation as possible," said Fimia.