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Feb. 1, 2012

Thousands of riders weigh in to help restructure future bus service to keep Metro whole

Comments set stage for second phase of Sept. service change review

Nearly 5,000 transit customers have connected with King County Metro Transit face-to-face and online in recent months to help restructure bus service to be more productive while meeting the needs of more people. That public input has prompted a new round of proposals for September bus service aimed at reducing overcrowding, increasing ridership and providing service where it’s needed the most.

As Metro moves toward completion of one of the largest service restructuring efforts in recent memory, it has been working with riders in Seattle and communities immediately north and south of the city to identify ways to keep the system whole while putting every available transit dollar to best use.

“The overall size of the Metro system will remain the same over the next two years,” Metro Transit General Manager Kevin Desmond said. “But some service is being redistributed from low ridership routes to other routes where buses are overcrowded.”

The redistribution of service included in the proposed September service change will also boost ridership and better match service levels to ridership demand. That means some routes may be expanded, consolidated or reduced as service is restructured to be more effective.

These efficiency measures reflect the King County Council’s directive last year to reduce at least 100,000 annual hours from poorly performing Metro routes and reinvest those hours in corridors that have a low quality of service or are under-served. These priorities also reflect key objectives called for in a landmark strategic transit policy plan adopted last year by the County Council.

Riders will have an opportunity to comment on the newly revised September service proposals during the second round of public review set to begin February 13.  In all, six open houses will be held in neighborhoods seeing the most changes:
  • Monday, Feb. 13 - Ballard High School
  • Wednesday, Feb. 15 – Madison Middle School, West Seattle
  • Thursday, Feb. 16 –Chief Sealth High School, Delridge/White Center
  • Tuesday, Feb. 21 – Union Station, Downtown Seattle*
  • Thursday, Feb. 23 – Queen Anne Community Center
  • Monday, Feb. 27 – Washington Middle School, Central Area/Mt. Baker        ·        

Open house meetings will be held from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. *Feb. 21 meeting from 12 p.m. - 2 p.m.

Riders who are unable to attend an open house can share their comments by responding to an online survey on Metro’s website.

Metro has been gathering feedback since last fall on a set of nearly 70 proposed bus changes guided by priorities in its new strategic plan that emphasize simpler, more direct and efficient service.

Most of the proposals support the launch of the RapidRide C and D lines and will primarily affect service in Seattle and adjacent communities. Some of the revisions will also improve the flow of buses through downtown Seattle, which will produce significant benefits for Metro’s overall system.

The introduction of the RapidRide lines and associated service adjustments will allow Metro to improve bus connections to jobs, shopping and other destinations – places in and around Seattle that have grown and changed over the years. Many bus routes serving these areas have not been adjusted for more than a decade.

For instance, revisions to the Routes 18 will provide better connections to more job centers from First Hill to Northgate; changes to the routes 60 and 120 will better serve the growing retail and business area of Westwood Village in West Seattle.

Some proposed changes respond to calls for more frequent bus service. Metro has shifted and consolidated service on several routes to reduce duplication and increase frequency on busy urban travel corridors. For instance, riders will see more connections between neighborhoods such as Ballard and Fremont, as well as West Seattle and Georgetown.

Following the first round of public comment, Metro identified several common concerns, ideas and suggestions from riders for revising the proposed service changes. From that effort, Metro planners were able to identify adjustments that could be made in a way that maintains existing service priorities.

During the open house meetings, riders will have an opportunity to review the revised proposals and share their comments. That feedback will help shape final September service proposals that will be forwarded to the King County Council for approval this spring. The council is expected to take action on the package of services change revisions in May.

To learn more about the status of proposed services changes visit Metro’s “Have a Say” website.

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