April 24, 2014
Lack of revenue will revert Metro’s service to levels last seen in 1997; County roads continue decline
Following the defeat of Proposition 1, King County Metro Transit must move forward with its proposal to cut about 16 percent of transit service, steps required to reduce spending and balance its budget in light of the expiration of the temporary Congestion Reduction Charge and the lack of replacement revenues.
“We’ve worked more than five years to create efficiencies and take other steps to avert service cuts and keep the buses rolling for our riders, so it’s deeply disappointing to see this measure defeated. As a result, we must now move forward to reduce the system to match our revenues, as any enterprise must do,” said Metro Transit General Manager Kevin Desmond. “We regret that many people who rely on Metro will lose service, be inconvenienced, or ride on more-crowded buses because of the service reductions.”
An online summary list shows the 72 Metro bus routes slated for deletion and the 84 routes that would be reduced or revised. Detailed route-by-route information will be updated online today as the service cuts ordinance is transmitted to the King County Council for action. The council is scheduled to consider the legislation in May and act by early June. If adopted, the service cuts would be scheduled to begin in September.
Proposition 1, a measure placed on the ballot by the King County Transportation District, also would have increased funding for roads and bridges in cities and the unincorporated county. Had it passed, the King County Roads Services Division planned to invest the revenue on critical safety work, on work necessary to reduce pollutants in waterways, and on activities that help to preserve existing roads and bridges.
“We will continue to focus our efforts on critical safety work and repair our roads and bridges within the budget we have, but conditions on roads will inevitably deteriorate more quickly,” said Road Services Director Brenda Bauer. The county maintains 1,500 miles of roads and 180 bridges that carry an estimated 1 million trips per day.
Metro operates 214 bus routes across King County and carries about 400,000 riders each weekday. Applying Metro’s strategic plan and service guidelines, the proposal deletes 72 routes – about one-third of Metro’s system – and reduces and revises 84 routes – another 39 percent. Proposed cuts total 550,000 service hours each year, a figure recently revised downward from 600,000 hours to reflect improved sales tax revenue forecasts.
Metro estimates the proposed cuts will mean a loss of 11 million rides annually and revert Metro’s service to levels last seen in 1997.
Service reductions are proposed to occur in four phases.
- September 2014: 166,000 hours
- February 2015: 188,000 hours
- June 2015: 92,000 hours
- September 2015: 138,000 hours
Information about upcoming public hearings before the King County Council will be posted online as they are scheduled.
Metro ranks among the top 10 largest transit agencies in the country. Ridership of 118.6 million in 2013 nearly matched the 118.8 million record ridership set in 2008. During several years of economic hardship that forced other agencies to make drastic cuts, Metro kept service rolling by cutting costs, increasing operational efficiency, spending reserves, increasing fares, collecting temporary revenue and enacting other measures. These actions saved $798 million, preserving most bus service between 2009 and 2013.
While many of these steps will continue to save a total of about $148 million every year, some were only temporary or one-time measures that run out in mid-2014. Sales tax revenues are improving, but have not recovered enough to support the current level of service. Details are available online about Metro’s finances and actions taken.