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Transit audit report: Metro saving $22 million annually

Summary

Metro has fully implemented, resolved, or is in the process of implementing all 51 recommendations

Story

King County auditors today briefed the Metropolitan King County Council’s Transportation, Economy, and Environment Committee (TrEE) on Metro Transit’s progress implementing the findings of a 2009 comprehensive performance audit. To date, Metro is saving an estimated $22 million annually and has increased annual revenues by $35 million so far by implementing the audit’s recommendations. The audit also identified $100 million in one-time savings, which has been used to help preserve transit service between 2010 and 2013.

“Metro has generated savings and increased revenues equivalent to about 820,000 annual transit service hours over the last four years through implementing the audit findings. This has been critical to keeping transit available for the people of King County since the Great Recession,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips, Chair of the TrEE Committee. “With Metro facing a huge fiscal cliff in 2014, every penny of savings helps the effort to preserve transit for getting people to and from work. I applaud King County Metro and Auditors for their cooperative efforts to bring Metro’s costs down.”

The comprehensive transit audit was called for by Phillips in 2008 when Metro first began experiencing a 20 percent decline in sales tax revenue due to the Great Recession. Of the 51 audit recommendations identified in 2009, Metro and King County leaders have fully implemented 35, substantially completed or otherwise resolved six, and are in progress of implementing the remaining ten.

“By embracing the many audit recommendations, Metro has cut costs, increased efficiency and ultimately kept more buses on the street to better serve our riders in the face of sagging revenues,” said Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond.

“The findings of this audit prove that doing more with less is not only possible but a true success story for King County Metro,” said Reagan Dunn, Vice-Chair of TrEE.  “Metro has more lean times ahead and it is vitally important that we continue to find ways to cut costs, improve efficiency and remain consistent in providing the top notch service that Metro riders depend on.”

In a follow up report, the auditor identified further opportunities to save money by more fully implementing the audit recommendation to use a bus replacement economic analysis for bus purchases.

In a separate TrEE Committee briefing Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond said that Metro faces an upcoming fiscal crisis in 2014 due to a revenue shortfall equivalent to 17 percent of Metro’s annual service hours in addition to the expiration of state mitigation funds related to the Alaskan Way Viaduct construction project. Transit mitigation in the Alaskan Way Viaduct corridor since 2010 has resulted in 17,000 new daily transit riders and a reduction of 25,000 daily vehicle trips.



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