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Proposed Metro service cuts may eliminate Routes 26, 82, 242 and reduce or revise Routes 16, 26 Express, 48, 358

What do you think? (24 Comments) July 8, 2011 at 1:34PM

Creative Commons License photo credit: Atomic Taco

In order to fund current levels of bus service in 2012 and 2013, Metro Transit says that it needs additional revenue.

Without extra funds, a total of 600,000 hours of transit service would be eliminated over the next two years. This is about 17 percent of Metro’s entire system, but it would affect up to 80 percent of bus riders.

“That means as many as four out of five people will have to walk further, wait longer, make an extra transfer, stand in the aisle, or stand on the curb and see fully loaded buses pass them by,” reads an information bulletin from Metro [pdf]. “And it will force tens of thousands of people back into cars, worsening congestion for everyone.”

Metro has released a “preliminary example” of what these cuts would look like. Between February 2012 and October 2013, several changes would be phased in, including changes to Green Lake routes:

Route 26 would be eliminated.

Route 82 would be eliminated.

Route 242 would be eliminated.

Route 16 would be reduced or revised.

Route 26 Express would be reduced or revised.

Route 48 would be reduced or revised.

Route 358 would be reduced or revised.

A pdf map of northwest Seattle routes that may be effected is available here.

I spoke with Green Lake resident and bus rider Devon Alisa Abdallah about the impacts that these possible cuts to service would have on her. Devon says that her work commute would be effected. More crucially, however, the bus route she uses to pick her son up from daycare would be eliminated, and she would have no way to transport him home.

“A reduction in bus services disproportionately impacts low income individuals, students and elders,” Devon says. “Many people are dependent on the bus to get to and from work, to go grocery shopping or to go to school.”

In order to avoid the proposed cuts, Metro is asking the King County Council for a temporary $20 annual Congestion Reduction Charge on every licensed vehicle in King County.

Support for the proposed surcharge is mixed. While some, such as Devon and others who depend on the bus, are in favor of the temporary charge, others question the reasoning behind it.

Green Lake resident Sarah Heath, a.k.a. North Seattle Sarah, sees the proposed surcharge as a measure which would require people who drive cars to pay for people who ride the bus. Sarah says that the bus that stops near her home is usually close to empty, and it produces a lot of noise and pollution. “Can’t they just increase rates on some rides?” she asks.

There are two upcoming hearings about the proposed reduction to Metro service. The hearings will include public testimony. On Tuesday, July 12, 2011 at 6 p.m., there will be a meeting at the King County Council Chambers (516 Third Ave, 10th Floor), and on Thursday, July 21, 2011 at 6 p.m. there will be a meeting at the Burien City Council Chambers (400 S.W. 152nd St, Burien).

You can also submit your comments to the council online.

24 Responses to “Proposed Metro service cuts may eliminate Routes 26, 82, 242 and reduce or revise Routes 16, 26 Express, 48, 358”

  1. Bay says:

    I love when people say, “I’m all for public transit,”  but never want to get out of their cars to ACTUALLY USE IT.  If you used public transit in Seattle, you’d understand how crucial it is.  Not only is it often as convenient as driving, you’ll also find patient, friendly drivers and clean graffiti free buses.  I suggest you leave your car, North Seattle Sarah, and join the humans who are actually trying to reduce their carbon footprints.  How about that for an idea? ;)

    • northseattlesarah says:

      I think that’s a great idea, except that just on Wednesday alone, my job required me to drive from Greenlake to downtown, then to Bothell, then back to downtown, then to Edmonds, then to Lake City, then to Seattle again.  And half of that required me to carry large objects in my car.  If you would like to find me a new job that allows me to take the bus, I would love to hear about it.  Oh, and I am signed up on the list to get a Nissan Leaf when available (which will cost me more than my current very fuel efficient car) – so hows that for reducing my footprint?

      • Bay says:

        Why not try the bus when you go out for the evening?  Or on a weekend?  Or to a park?  I challenge you to ONLY use your car for work for a week.  Then you can come tell me how awful it is that you have to pay TWENTY DOLLARS to keep the system healthy.  

        • northseattlesarah says:

          I actually do only use my car for work.  I walk to the grocery store, I walk to and around two different parks, I walk to any restaurant I visit, etc.  I absolutely HATE driving.  hate it. more than anything.  When I get home, my car gets parked in the drive and I don’t use it again until the next time I work (if I don’t work on a weekend, it actually sits there from Friday afternoon to Monday morning!)  In fact, I even walk from my home in Green Lake to the Ballard Farmers market, with a backpack, and then carry a good 15 pounds worth of purchases back home, about 3 miles each direction.

          • Bay says:

            Yes, well, I don’t really care. :)  Because with all due respect Sarah, the issue is NOT your own personal driving decisions/bus observations from your window.  The issue is keeping the transit system running to and from an area that has extremely good access to downtown, preventing more cars from cluttering I 5 or 99. The issue is that you seem to think that $20 is somehow a penalty because ‘you don’t use the bus for work.’  The issue is that your solution is to raise the price of taking the bus, thus making it less attractive for commuters.  [By the way, the bus fare just went up recently.]  This strikes me as entirely ill-thought out.  The transit system helps everyone, not just those that ride it.  This is a larger community issue. 

            Oh, and if you walk into Wallingford the 48 will take you right down to Ballard Market. Enjoy! ;)

          • northseattlesarah says:

            Thanks for the info, but I enjoy the walk – gives me good exercise (and my pup likes it too).  

            I’m wondering, just a thought, what if they made the $20 a “optional” donation when you renew your car tabs?  It seems there are an awful lot of people that are extremely supportive of the measure, so they would probably get plenty of good responses out of that.  I can’t remember if its car tabs or something else that I saw not too long ago (maybe my pet license renewal?), but it gave me an option of donating $5 to state parks – and I totally did that (because state parks are something I use, and since I use it, it makes sense to pay for it).  The problem is, there are a million budget cuts going on right now in all kinds of departments, I feel like a big difference can be made if people are asked to donate or contribute to issues that affect them or that they find valuable. 

            Another option: I often see the bus near my place, or in other locations, with only one or two passengers on it even though it’s halfway through it’s route.  A bus must carry 7 passengers to cause less polution than a car.  Why are they cutting routes that people obviously find important?  Why not find specific routes at specific days where a cut will effect the most minimal amount of people?  I did read an interesting quote from someone the other day who thought they were “threatening” to cut important routes in an effort to make people vote for the surcharge so that it would pass, when in reality they wouldn’t actually cut those highly used routes.  Not sure how much truth there is to that, but if a route is so crowded that its standing room only, it seems pretty insane that THAT’S the one they choose to cut.

            It’s not the fact that the $20 bothers me, because as you’ve said, $20 is easy to come by.  It’s the fact that I would rather take that $20 and donate it to another state program or department that’s been cut. So why do they get to say that my money is allocated to one specific thing?  Additionally, if this is also meant to encourage finding alternate transportation methods, than should someone that drives an electric vehicle or a prius, and drives 3 of their co-workers to work in that vehicle, be taxed?

            I have ridden the bus a few times, and I agree that they are clean and a good way to get around (although I must say, the last time, I had to change buses, my first one was late, I missed the second one because of that, and I ended up having to call a friend to pick me up downtown, thus defeating the purpose).  I’m just saying that for those of us that have to drive cars, we’re already being beaten to the ground by gas prices, maintenence costs, etc, that asking us to pay one more thing isn’t totally fair.  I feel that there are many other options to look at to cover this cost then throwing one more charge at people that are already struggling with the cost of a car. 

          • The Other Walker Brother says:

            of course, not everyone takes the bus because they want to lessen their carbon footprint.  there are those out there (yet to be completely gentrified out of this town) that have to take it because it is the transportation that they can afford.  this is one of the benefits offered by public transit, which is broad and equal geographical access to all and not just to those of us killing time on the waiting list for a $32K car.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Metro need to be privatized…….. 

    • Neil2000 says:

      True. The bus system is inefficient but instead of improving it, they are cutting back service. This is sheer laziness. I know these are hard times with lower sales taxes and rising costs but
      ridership is increasing too. A private contractor would find creative
      ways of increasing ridership even further instead of this addiction to our taxes.

      Many routes chronically run late at particular times and have done so
      for years but nothing changes. Like northseattlesarah found out, these
      are also the cause of missed connections.

      I have talked to many drivers most of whom have good ideas to improve service however, they all claim that Metro neither solicits their input nor listens when offered.

      I dumped my car last summer and rode metro until 4 months ago when I got fed up with late and missed buses. Now they want to force me to pay for their bad service? Heck, no!

      It is time for King county to hand over this service to private contractors and wean itself off of our taxes.

      • JDeak says:

        independent contracters wouldn’t care who they served or didn’t serve and would only care about making money. That’s why the gvt has to provide rural phone lines, for example. Transit, INCLUDING ROADS, is always  public good if it is to be any good at all. I’m sure Metro has inefficiencies, and we should pressure them to work those out, but you’re proposing throwing out the baby with the bathwater with your privatization scheme.

    • the other walker brother says:

      privatization of infrastructure only acts to limit access and increase costs.  service becomes limited to routes that are profitable and prices are increased to drive up profits.  public infrastructure is a service, not a profit driven business.  it’s supposed to cost money.   

      if you contract out or completely privatize, but enforce the same route coverage at an affordable price, then you are either going to be without mass transit entirely after the providing company goes broke, or paying out more money in corporate subsidies than you were spending when it was public.  

      • Anonymous says:

        What do you think Metro is doing now?

        • the other walker brother says:

          slowly dismantling its service and shifting the cost burden to a specific group of people due to aggressive pressure to be profitable instead of being run as a service to the city.  privatization isn’t an answer to that problem because it does nothing to stop diminishing service or affordable mass transit for citizens.  it accelerates both. 

          • the other walker brother says:

            edit: meant to say “…nothing to stop diminishing service or making mass transit less affordable for citizens.”  sorry about that.

  3. Devon says:

    Many buses you see which are empty or near empty are full until they reach specific points, such as the Green Lake Park and Ride, when large numbers of people get off or they may be express buses which follow commute routes, such as the 316 to Downtown Seattle, in the morning. 
    A reduction in service will effect everyone not just bus riders.  There will be more cars on the road leading to even greater traffic, pollution and wear and tear on the roads.  By avoiding a short term expense we will need to face a larger long term expense.  Metro is not just about bus riders it’s about keeping cars off the road. 

  4. cooklocal says:

    I would encourage folks who primarily drive to keep in mind that they might not always be able to do so. For example, I used to drive to work daily, with my husband. However, he lost his job, which required us to drastically reduce our expenditures. Gas was an easy cut since my work provides me a bus pass. Without the 242 route, I’d have no way to get to work at the time I need to get there. 

    For $20/year, something nearly every car owner can afford, those of us who cannot afford to drive every day will still be able to get to work. I’m generally not a fan of extra taxes, but with congestion, and the impending 520 tolls, we’re really going to need those bus routes. 

    Also, the 242 is nearly always full as it is in the mornings. 

    • JDeak says:

      great point, especially with gas prices rising, a lot of people could find themselves surprisingly priced out of driving at some point.

  5. Guest says:

    I’m sorry, but I don’t believe their figures for a second.  They want to get rid of the 72, 73, 66, and 67.  Obviously they know there is demand for downtown – udistrict service…one must only stand in the bus tunnel downtown seeing packed 71/72/73 coming in – and they understand this demand because lightrail is being built between the two areas.  

    They are just trying to scare us and/or make the cuts as painful (i.e. not practical) as possible to spite us for not appropriating more money to THEIR transit agency (not Sound Transit).  There is NO WAY these cuts actually take place with only a 17% percent reduction of service needed.  This is more like if Metro was cutting 50% and starting to shut down.

    • Guest2 says:

      If you don’t believe it, take a look at what Pierce Transit did to their bus service when their proposed transit levy failed.  Pretty much decimated anything but peak hour service.  

      • Guest says:

        The demands of Tacoma (largely suburban with a small urban center…the urban center has a huge parking facility and free trolley transport in) is totally different than Seattle’s demands.  Seattle may cut bus service, but there is no way they are going to, for example, get rid of the 72 and 73 completely…UW students use those and I would bet UW would step in before that happened.  I’m mearly saying that the document I saw appears to represent much more than a 17% reduction.  It seemed like they released what they would do with a larger budget reduction just to scare us into voting in the transit levy.

        Further – do you know the percentage reduction of service that happened in Tacoma?  I bet it’s larger than 17%.

        I’m actually a huge proponent of transit (registered professional civil engineer) and for the levy, and would happily pay it and then some.  But I’m also for honesty, and my professional opinion is that the document I saw from Metro represents more extreme  cuts than necessary.

        • Devon says:

          The cuts are more extreme than necessary but without money cuts need to happen.  Bus routes will be eliminated, others will reduced, jobs will be lost, and the roads will be more crowded. 

  6. JDeak says:

    Great summary – thanks! We all need to get out and be loud and united to tell the Council loud and clear that they should approve the fee! They want to see “they have the votes” to support that choice, so call them today! Also sign this petition and pass it on!

  7. Latonamom says:

    Oh dear that’s terrible news.  I use the 26 all the time and it’s always full when it hits downtown or leaves downtown during the peak hours.  I use the 16 some of the time.  I think Seattle actually has great bus service and I the buses are clean and safe.

  8. Tiredofpaying says:

    Why is it that people that drive have to subsidize those that don’t?  The increase is for all of King County.  What percentage of King County residents would ever have the need to use the Transit System?  It seems every time the City/State needs to raise revenue the only people they can pickpocket are homeowners and vehicle owners.