City leaders investigate future of Route 200 bus
April 1, 2014
By Peter Clark
As King County residents vote whether to fund Metro Transit on April 22, city leaders are considering what to do with Route 200.
Issaquah pays a yearly subsidy to the county in order to keep the bus free of charge. But the city-centric route has been offered for the chopping block for years as Metro has faced increased expenditures. In response, the city has begun to survey residents who would most likely use the bus to try and get a clearer sense of its community impact.
City Economic Development Manager Andrea Lehner said the information would prove valuable for the city as well as the county.
“Because the city subsidizes the route, what the city’s trying to see is who would be affected and what could be done for them if Metro Transit cancels Route 200,” she said. “We’re trying to see what the city can do can to ensure these people can travel around town.”
While the route may face future service cuts from Metro Transit, Lehner said specific ridership information remains unavailable.
“The message the city keeps getting from Metro is that the 200 is underutilized,” she said. “But this is information that King County Metro doesn’t have and, really, the city doesn’t have either.”
Lehner said the city has begun the survey both as a way to assist residents who may rely on the route and also as a consideration about whether a continued subsidy would be worth the city’s money.
“The City Council has known that this route is a value to us,” she said. “The next question is what’s the best way to invest this money.”
City Transportation Manager Gary Costa said the city spends about $40,000 to fund the bus every year.
The city has begun work with the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank as well as the Issaquah Senior Center to establish firm numbers of ridership.
“For many of our customers, the bus is the only means they have for transportation,” food bank Director Cori Walters said, “whether it’s to a job, to the pharmacy, to a doctor’s appointment or just around town.”
Should the April 22 vote pass, the Route 200 bus would continue running.
“To my knowledge, it would fund all current Metro Transit routes,” Mayor Fred Butler said.
However, should it fail, Metro Transit listed the free bus among the routes it expects to cut.
Take the city’s anonymous survey at surveymonkey.com/s/GD5HSP9.