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.