Editorial: Bus study is only part of the puzzle

June 24, 2014

By Staff

Days are numbered for the 200 bus, the shuttle marked “freebee” that residents are used to seeing around town. While it’s unfortunate, the removal of the bus should provide a catalyst to look at transportation across the city.

After the failure of King County’s Proposition 1 last fall, Metro announced the 200, along with a handful of commuter routes serving Issaquah, will stop service in September.

The city spends about $50,000 per year — on top of Metro’s $1.2 million (which also comes from city residents, of course) to keep the bus running. The route sees about 400 boardings per day; one person might board multiple times, so that doesn’t necessarily mean those are unique passengers.

The exact number is tough to come by, since Metro rounds ridership to the nearest 100. (By the way, Metro, why are you rounding to the nearest 100? For lower ridership routes, it presents a range that’s far too large as a percentage of the total to be meaningful.)

Issaquah officials have started a study of the route, finding out how they might re-purpose dollars to find ways to serve those people who depend on the bus to get to work or shopping.

The study is a good idea, but it should be combined with a broader transportation survey. The City Council has said it wants to engage in a larger transportation master plan; this study should inform part of that larger effort.

While the city looks at ways that new programs or contracts might directly offset the loss of the route, that might not be the most efficient plan. What if dozens of small changes under a more holistic program would have the same effect for the same or lower cost?

Yes, the need for this is more immediate, and a broad transportation study would likely take years to complete. That’s all the more reason to get started sooner, rather than wait and find out there may have been a better answer.


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