In April, King County’s Regional Transit Committee issued a ‘scenario’ titled, “600,000 Service Hour Reduction Scenario” that proposes various service cuts to address King County Metro’s $60 million deficit. In early May, the Seattle PI published an article about the possible service reductions. Seems like there are still a lot of details to be worked out, and I’m anxious to see where things end up. But then the story got even more complex, when a car tab increase was proposed. The Seattle Times explained the proposal here.
If I’m getting the details right, the WA State Legislature already gave counties the authority to charge a fee. The county hasn’t done that yet. According to the Kent Reporter, King County Commissioner Dow Constantine sent a proposal to the Metropolitan County Council on June 20th, asking them to approve the temporary, two year $20 per car fee. He also sent a proposal to cut Metro service hours by 600,000 hours if the fee isn’t approved. And it looks like voters will be weighing in on the ballot in November.
Confusing! Complicated! Get me a Bloody Mary!
Fortunately, community activist Mike Ruby has offered Wallyhood some context and perspective, which I’ll summarize below for you:
- Metro proposes to reduce service according to these criteria:
- reduce low productivity service
- restructure system to provide more efficient service
- reduce the most expensive (per passenger mile) service
- reduce the most productive services
- The report has the following information about Wallingford:
- Routes 45 Queen Anne Express and 46 Shilshole Express pass through Wallingford on 40th on the way to UW. Both have three rush hours trips to the U in the morning and outbound in the afternoon rush. Both stop at 40th and Stone and at 40th and Wallingford. And both routes might be eliminated because they score in the bottom 25% of rideship during peak hours. The problem with this scoring is that students using Upasses do not use the ORCA machine or zip their cards through the toll box. As a result, Metro does not know how many folks are using the bus unless they do an on-site count. (Note: By next autumn the UW will be issuing bus passes that behave like the current ORCA card and require a tap on the reader when riders board the bus.)
- Another pair of buses that serve Wallingford are listed as candidates for restructuring: routes 30 Seattle Center and 31 Magnolia. The 30 runs from Magnusson Park, through the UW and Wallingford, and down Westlake to the Seattle Center. The 31 runs from the UW, through Wallingford and Fremont to Magnolia. The reasons given for needing to “restructure” these two runs are wide ranging but the main one seems to be “service duplication”. The only place in the route for these two buses where the route is the same is through Wallingford on 40th so perhaps this is the section they are planning to reduce service along. It is not at all clear how they might do this, especially since the both buses are completely full and have standing room only inbound to the UW in the mornings. Again the problem may be the students with a Upass and no one gets a real count. Maybe Metro’s statistics show these lines running empty.
Metro also looked at where they might add back service if, after the cutback and if the new temporary license tab fee passes. There are many considerations, and nothing is fixed yet. But so far, the priorities for rebuilding service are current passenger loads, schedule reliability, productivity, and whether the area is underserved. Rebuilding candidates are:
- 16 Meridian to Northgate is listed as oversubscribed too often. It is also listed as one of the buses that is habitually late, more than 20% of the time during the day and more than 35% of the time during the PM peak. It is the only route of its type in all the Metro system that is listed as habitually late every day of the week. They suggest that service on the 16 should be increased to 15 minutes between buses instead of the current 20 minutes.
- The 30 Seattle Center to UW is also listed as late weekdays 20% of the time in the day and 35% of the time in the PM peak. This belies their other statistic about the 30 being a low utilization route.
Another interesting fact is the rating of the 26 Latona as in the top 25% of most heavily used routes in the Metro system. But do you remember when they tried to eliminate the 26 in the last round of service cuts – on the grounds that Wallingford was “overserved?”
Thank you Mike! You’re a rock star.
I commute daily on the 26, and based on the number of times that the 26 doesn’t even stop to pick up commuters in the afternoons because the bus is full before it leaves downtown, or the number of times that the aisles are standing room only… I’d like to go on record BEGGING Metro not to cut the #26. Or the #28, #30, and #31. Please no. Rush hour increases might even be in order. But I guess we’re going to have to figure out how to pay for it. And not just for Wallingford.
I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about Metro in the months to come. Til then, ride safe.
Update: Metro has recently announced 3 public meetings to discuss proposed cuts with the public. The Seattle meeting is 6pm, July 12th @ 516 Third Ave. For more information, click here.