County transit task force recommends Metro changes
November 5, 2010
NEW — 1:15 p.m. Nov. 5, 2010
King County Metro Transit should rethink how the public transit agency transports riders, a transit task force recommended Friday.
The recommendations in the Regional Transit Task Force report represent a potential roadmap to long-standing differences related to Metro bus service.
Instead of adding or reducing service based on geographic formulas, the plan calls for service to be linked to productivity, connections to job markets and demand for transit. The plan also emphasizes strong consideration for geographic value and social equity.
“These recommendations help meet the goal I first set last year: to allocate transit based on what makes sense, rather than on arbitrary political divisions,” County Executive Dow Constantine said in a news release. “Rather than quarrel over an ever-shrinking pie, we need to work together to provide bus service that is productive and meets the needs of the entire county.”
Next, Constantine plans to incorporate the recommendations into a strategic plan to be sent to the King County Council. The council is expected to take final action on the framework by mid-2011, so the recommendations can shape the development of the next transit budget.
Issaquah Councilman Fred Butler served as a member of the 28-person task force. The group logged eight months to produce the report.
The team included a broad coalition of transit stakeholders, including elected leaders, representatives from nonprofit organizations and Metro riders.
The report is expected to form the foundation of a unified regional effort to petition the Legislature for a system to provide the majority of public transit dollars through a more sustainable source of revenue, instead of sales tax money.
Otherwise, Metro — the ninth-largest bus system in the nation — could face deep service cuts in the years ahead. If additional stable revenue sources cannot be found, Metro faces a yearly operating deficit of $117 million by 2015, resulting in 600,000 fewer hours of bus service.
The report recommends continued efforts to reduce operating costs at the transit agency. Metro has already implemented steps to save money in response to a county audit.
The report also stresses the role of public transit as a tool to support economic vitality and land use.
“The task force’s work balancing the interests of individual stakeholders with the interests of the region and the Metro system as a whole is truly remarkable and exemplary,” County Councilman Larry Phillips, Environment and Transportation Committee chairman, said in a statement. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to implement their recommendations.”