Focus on transit dependent communities with continued outreach
StoryThe looming reduction of transit services throughout King County and the effect it will have on those who depend on Metro Transit is among the issues that are part of the unanimously adopted 2014 Equity and Social Justice (ESJ) work plan of the Metropolitan King County Council.
“Many of the communities that will bear the brunt of the transit reductions are the same communities that have had to endure the challenges of historic social inequities,” said Councilmember Larry Gossett, the prime sponsor of the motion. “Taking those inequities into consideration is the goal of the ESJ program, so it is vital the transit service reductions be part of our work plan for 2014.”
“The transit service reductions will impact every aspect of transportation throughout King County,” said Council Chair Larry Phillips. “Including the reductions as part of our ESJ work plan is a reminder that as we implement these cuts, we don’t forget those communities for which there are no other transportation options.”
“This reaffirmation of our principles will focus our outreach to those most affected by the proposed transit cuts” said Council Vice Chair Jane Hague. “This will foster more inclusive and accessible public processes in communities where our citizens are impacted.”
“This ordinance underlines the values we bring to our work generally and specifically as we address reductions to Metro transit,” said Council Vice Chair Joe McDermott.
Launched in 2008 as the Equity and Social Justice Initiative (ESJI), the idea behind ESJ is to eliminate long-standing and persistent inequities and social injustices within King County by applying principles of equity and social justice in the County’s actions, decisions, and policies. In October 2010, the King County Council adopted legislation on equity that establishes definitions and directs implementation steps related to achievement of the “fair and just” principle of the King County Strategic Plan (KCSP).
“I believe that the things that make each person in our county unique- such as race, geographic location, etc. should be considered,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert. “This work plan makes it clear that equal treatment is the official policy of King County.”
“This unanimously adopted work plan clearly illustrates King County’s continuing commitment to serve all residents of our County,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn.
“The 2014 ESJ work plan emphasizes the need to integrate equity and social justice principles into the decisions we make as a Council,” said Councilmember Dave Upthegrove. “This work is even more critical as we face funding uncertainty and bus service reductions.”
The Council is considering legislation that would implement the elimination of 72 bus routes and the reduction and revision of another 84 routes. The Council’s adopted 2014 ESJ work plan calls for an equity analysis of plans for phased reductions in transit service to ensure it is consistent with adopted Equity and Social Justice policies of the County and the Council. Those policies include providing travel opportunities and supporting amenities for historically disadvantaged populations, such as low-income people, students, youth, seniors, people of color, people with disabilities, and others with limited transportation options.
Today’s adopted motion continues to build on the Council’s 2013 ESJ work plan and its goals of increasing awareness of ESJ impacts of county actions internally and with the public, expanding access to county information to underserved populations, and increased opportunities to interact with the Council.
The 2014 work plan was developed through the work of the Council’s Legislative Branch ESJ Team. This team, comprised of representatives from offices, agencies and staff within the Legislative Branch, promotes equity and social justice efforts specifically within the Legislative Branch.
The proposed work plan acknowledges that as ESJ efforts move forward, it should be done consistently with the direction provided by the Council-adopted County Strategic Plan. This could include looking at the big picture across departments and considering County ESJ impacts from a regional perspective.