April 2, 2012
Largest service change ever proposed for Metro Transit meets demand for service by making system more efficient
Recommendations stress fair, equitable services that ease overcrowding on buses and provide service where it’s needed most
One of the largest service changes ever proposed by Metro Transit – and shaped by a new landmark strategic policy plan for public transportation – is heading to the King County Council next week for review. The package of proposed changes, set to take effect Sept. 29, targets bus overcrowding, building ridership, and providing bus service where it’s needed the most.
The Metropolitan King County Council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee will hold a special meeting to receive public input on the proposed service changes:
Monday, April 16
6:00 p.m. open house
6:30 p.m. presentation
7:00 p.m. public testimony
Sound Transit’s Board Room at Union Station
401 South Jackson Street, Seattle
The meeting will begin with an open house for members of the public to review the proposed changes and ask questions of Metro Transit staff, followed by a Metro briefing on the service changes. Then Councilmembers will hear comments from members of the public.
“Metro Transit is moving forward with plans to maximize our transit dollars by redesigning the system to serve more people more efficiently,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips, Chair of the Transportation, Economy, and Environment Committee. “The proposed September 2012 change is Metro’s biggest service change undertaking yet, affecting over 50 routes, so it’s critical to hear what transit riders think of the changes.”
Metro’s proposed service change adjusts routes in Seattle and communities immediately north and south of the city. Over the past four months, Metro has received more than 10,000 comments from residents – the highest level of citizen engagement in recent memory. During two rounds of public review, those comments helped Metro revise more than 50 existing bus routes to improve overall system effectiveness, add new connections, minimize duplication of service, and improve the flow of buses in the congested downtown Seattle area.
Most of the proposals support and integrate with two new RapidRide lines that will connect downtown Seattle to Ballard and West Seattle. The RapidRide C and D lines will begin service this fall, allowing Metro to make broader adjustments that will produce significant benefits for the entire system.
“The arrival of these new RapidRide lines gives Metro an extraordinary opportunity to make adjustments that improve bus connections to jobs, shopping, and other destinations – areas that have grown over the past decade but have not received enough service to support that growth,” Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond said.
The proposed revisions fulfill a series of King County Council directives to make the Metro system more productive while making the most use of every available transit dollar.
When the Council adopted a two-year Congestion Reduction Charge last summer, it also required Metro to reallocate at least 100,000 annual hours of poorly performing service and reinvest those hours in corridors that are under-served or overcrowded. The action was designed to better position the county to meet its most critical transit needs and keep the transit system whole until long-term stable funding can be found.
The service change recommendations, which reflect key elements of Metro’s strategic plan, also emphasize social equity, geographic value, and address the needs of special populations, such as the disabled, elderly, and people who are transit dependent.
The service changes also coincide with the planned elimination of the Ride Free Area in downtown Seattle. “Pay as you board” will be the new rule everywhere in King County. Some proposed revisions, such as the recommended changes to the routes 10, 11, 12, 123, and 125, will also improve the flow of buses through downtown Seattle, producing significant efficiencies for Metro’s overall system.
Since their original proposal, several recommendations have been modified or eliminated from consideration due to community input. Some proposals will undergo further study and may be put forward at a later date.
The following list highlights changes that have been made to the original proposals:
Postponing all route changes to the 2 (north and south parts), 4 (north and south parts), 13, 14 (south part), 16, 24, 27, and 33;
Considering small changes to frequency and spans of service for routes 14 (north and south parts), 24, 27, and 124 to better align service with ridership during the evening hours;
Providing service to 32nd Ave NW and North Beach via a new Route 61;
Retaining weekday and Saturday service on Route 125;
Providing service to Nickerson Street on Queen Anne by revising the Route 2 Express to provide peak service from Nickerson Street to downtown Seattle, and retaining Route 17 during weekday peak periods to provide service from downtown Seattle to the Ballard business district (northbound in the morning and southbound in the afternoon, with trips timed to meet Sounder Commuter Rail trips to and from Tacoma);
Retaining service to the VA hospital on Beacon Hill with the new Route 50 and proposed Route 60;
Revising new Route 50 to serve Alaska Junction and the North Delridge neighborhood; and
Revising Route 156 to maintain service on S 216th Street and 8th Avenue S between 200th and Des Moines Memorial Drive S.
“We know there are changes that may require some customers to walk a little farther to get to a bus stop or make a transfer – but the transit network we are building will offer more connections and improved travel options for thousands of people and will allow us to put every available transit dollar to best use,” Desmond said.
Riders may also discover that the new service recommendations will make it more convenient and cost-effective to hop aboard a Metro bus to avoid sitting in traffic and paying high gas costs.
For more details about the proposed services changes, visit Metro’s “Have a Say” website at http://www.kingcounty.gov/haveasay. Riders can submit comments to Councilmembers online at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee will also hear public comments at its regular April 25 meeting at 9:30 a.m. in the Council Chambers on the 10th floor of the King County Courthouse, 516 Third Avenue, Seattle. Full Council action is expected in May.