Countywide task force will envision future of mass transit
February 5, 2010
By Warren Kagarise
NEW — 6 a.m. Feb. 5, 2010
Transit riders, elected officials and representatives from business, labor, education, human services and other organizations will envision future mass transit options in King County.
King County Council members sent County Executive Dow Constantine a set of guidelines Monday to form a regional task force with 27 members from across the county.
The legislation calls on the task force to explore the county transit system and weigh factors, like efficiency, environmental impact, economic development, financial sustainability and geography. The measure sent to Constantine calls on the task force to make recommendations by September.
Shortfalls in the Metro Transit budget prompted the council to advocate for a task force. Members will develop a comprehensive vision for what the regional transit system should look like in the years ahead. The panel will also examine criteria for systematically growing or reducing the transit system, depending on available money.
“This is an example of good government and people working together for the public benefit,” County Councilwoman Kathy Lambert said in a news release. “I am pleased the task force will include rural representation that will ensure a focus on diverse transportation solutions.”
Lambert represents Issaquah, Sammamish and large swaths of unincorporated eastern King County.
Officials raised some transit fares by 25 cents at the start of the year to counter the wide budget gap. Besides the fare increase, Metro cut staff and delayed capital projects to save money.
“As I said in my inaugural speech, we need to push past political divisions and develop a means of delivering transit that is both efficient and reflective of how people live and work today and in the future,” Constantine said in the release. “I thank the council for working with me to create this task force, and I look forward to appointing a panel that is representative of the needs of the entire county.”