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Council adopts guidelines that will direct Regional Transit Task Force

Summary

Legislation describes membership makeup, objectives and timelines for panel that will discuss future of transit system

Story

The Metropolitan King County Council today sent to the County Executive its guidelines for the regional task force that will provide a vision for the future of transit in King County.

“With Metro Transit facing a staggering funding shortfall, a common theme we hear throughout the region is that no one wants to lose their bus service,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips, the primary sponsor of the legislation creating the task force. “Forming a Regional Transit Task Force will bring together a wide range of voices to develop strategies for saving our bus system and shaping our transit future. I appreciate the broad input I’ve received from my colleagues to ensure we had the best possible structure for forming an inclusive and productive task force.”

“It is time to consider a new model for transit and for the future of our region,” said Council Vice Chair Jane Hague. “This task force will embark on a visionary process accommodating multiple employment centers and rider needs.”

“The panel’s recommendations will have a role in the future of public transit in this region,” said Councilmember Larry Gossett, Chair of the Council’s Regional Transit Committee. “So they will have to balance the needs of inner city and suburban transit users while recognizing the budget challenges facing this region.”

A sharp drop in the sales tax revenues that support bus service led to a projected $213 million revenue shortfall for Metro Transit over the next two years. In the adopted 2010 King County Budget, the Council reprioritized property tax revenues and adopted a fare increase for 2011 to preserve existing levels of bus service in 2010 and 2011. A projected shortfall remains in 2012 through 2014, which could require cutting approximately 500,000 annual service hours.

In response to the ongoing shortfall, the Council directed the County Executive to convene a task force of regional stakeholders to discuss the future of Metro Transit. The conversation will include developing a comprehensive vision for what the regional transit system should look like in the future as well as looking at criteria for systematically growing or reducing the transit system, depending on revenues available.

“As I said in my inaugural speech, we need to push past political divisions and develop a means of delivering transit that is both efficient and reflective of how people live and work today and in the future,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “I thank the Council for working with me to create this task force, and I look forward to appointing a panel that is representative of the needs of the entire county.”

The Council today recommended formation of a geographically balanced 27-member task force that will include a mix of elected officials, representatives of labor, business and other regional interests, and rider interests including human service agencies, educational and commuter interests, as well as riders.

“This is an example of good government and people working together for the public benefit,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, who represents District 3 in northeast King County. “I am pleased the task force will include rural representation that will ensure a focus on diverse transportation solutions.”

“We have increasing demand for transit from all over the county, yet a decrease in revenues,” said Councilmember Jan Drago. “The task force gives us a great opportunity to collaborate on a much needed regional transit solution.”

The legislation calls on the task force to explore King County’s transit system as part of the regional transportation system through key system design factors of land use, social equity and environmental justice, financial sustainability, geographic equity, economic development and productivity and efficiency.

The legislation also calls on the task force to make its recommendations by September 2010.

“This Task Force will play an integral role in developing a sustainable, long-term plan for transit service in King County,” said Councilmember Julia Patterson. “We must convene a broad and expansive approach, which also brings stakeholders together to help shape the future of transit throughout our region.”



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