Transit riders to get their chance to weigh in on proposed Metro bus cuts
Bus riders have watched for months as Metro and King County officials discussed proposals to cut routes and scale back service.
Three upcoming public meetings are riders’ best options for influencing a proposal to slash 16 percent of Metro service hours, King County officials say.
The King County Council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee will hold a series of evening meetings to present the county’s proposed plan to eliminate 72 bus routes and revise or reduce 84 others. The cuts are slated to begin this fall.
The meetings will be held at Union Station, in downtown Seattle, on Tuesday, May 13; at Bellevue City Hall on Thursday, May 15; and at the Renton Pavilion Event Center on Tuesday, May 20.
Each meeting will have a sign-in and open house that begins at 5:30 p.m.
Public testimony will start at each location at 6 p.m.
County Councilmember Rod Demobowski said hearing from the public about the reductions is important because bus riders could raise issues that could alter the recommendations King County makes to Metro.
“It wouldn’t be surprising that there were some things that Metro Transit, doing as good a job as it has done, could miss,” he said.
Dembowski said Metro officials based proposed cuts on guidelines that factored in route productivity and how the loss or revision of a route would affect geographic and social equity. Even staying within those guidelines, changes can be made to what routes are selected, he added.
Along with providing public testimony, meeting attendees will have the chance to speak to Metro staff about the service changes.
Residents unable to attend can testify online at kingcounty.gov/council/testimony.aspx.
The meetings represent the first time the public can comment on the recommended service cuts, which King County Executive Dow Constantine sent on April 24 to the County Council.
The proposed cuts affect routes — and therefore riders — throughout King County, from rural communities to Seattle’s urban core. The elimination, revision or reduction of routes will occur in four stages: September 2014, February 2015, June 2015 and September 2015.
In determining which routes to cut or revise, Metro’s first priority was to choose routes with low performance levels, identified as routes that duplicated service, ran only in peak periods or didn’t carry enough riders, according to the agency’s website.
The transit agency says that it serves approximately 400,000 riders each weekday.
The cuts, which will amount to the loss of 550,000 annual service hours, come in the wake of the failure of Proposition 1, a countywide ballot measure that would have used a sales tax increase and a car-tab fee to fund bus service and implement road repairs. Constantine, county councilmembers and transit advocates supported the measure.
Metro and county officials say the transit agency faces an ongoing budget deficit of $75 million.
Dembowski said that although input from riders may not factor into the first phase of service cuts, to be implemented this fall, it could cause the council to alter three phases of cuts scheduled for next year.
“We won’t know that for sure until we listen to the public,” Dembowski said.
What: Public meetings on transit cuts
When and where: Tuesday, May 13
Union Station, Ruth Fisher Boardroom, 401 S. Jackson St.
5:30 p.m.: sign in/open house
6 p.m.: public testimony
(All meetings follow the same schedule)
Thursday, May 15
Bellevue City Hall, City Council Chambers, 450 110the Ave. NE, Bellevue
CommentsDo not cut bus route 280 linking Kirkland, Bellevue & Renton with downtown Seattle. It is the only bus linking those cities after 1AM. I use #280 to get home from weekend dances to Federal Way.
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.