Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
The legislature has been considering transportation funding legislation, but has not acted on a new transportation funding option.
In January 2014, King County Executive Dow Constantine proposed that the County Council form a transportation benefit district and put a transportation funding proposal on the ballot for a public vote in April. Learn more on the county’s Transportation Future website.
The following actions were taken from 2009 through 2013 to reduce costs, boost revenue, and preserve bus service.
- Efficiency actions recommended by 2009 performance audit, including changing bus schedules to reduce bus downtime.
- Negotiated agreements with employees that reduced the growth of pay through furloughs and pay freezes.
- Elimination of more than 100 staff positions that did not directly affect service.
- Elimination of 75,000 hours of less-used bus service and adopted new service guidelines as part of our strategic plan.
- Deferral of 350,000 hours of planned service expansion.
- Four fare increases in four years, for a total increase of 80 percent, contributing to a farebox recovery rate of 29 percent in 2012.
- The County Council used tools provided by the legislature, permanently allocating a portion of the property tax levy to Metro while reducing other property taxes so taxpayers don’t pay more and adopting a two-year congestion reduction charge.
- Elimination of the Ride Free Area in downtown Seattle.
- Reduction of the capital program.
- Reduction of the bus replacement reserve fund by $100 million, as recommended by the 2009 performance audit.
- Use of half of the operating reserve fund to support service.
- Realization of benefits from the county’s employee health program.
Altogether, these actions have realized $798 million, including $93 million in ongoing annual cost reductions and $55 million in increased revenue.
Metro has raised rider fares by 80 percent in recent years, and the King County Council is considering a proposal to change fares again in March 2015. Under this proposal, all fares for regular Metro service would go up by 25 cents. The fare for Access service would go up by 50 cents. A new reduced fare would be established for customers who have low incomes. These fare changes would bring in an estimated $6.6 million in additional annual revenue for Metro. Learn more about the fare change proposal
To close Metro’s budget gap, fares would have to go up by a minimum of $2 per trip, so a one-way adult base fare would be $4.25.
While sales tax collections are expected to return to 2008 levels in 2014, the purchasing power of those funds in 2014 is not the same as it was in 2008. An analysis prepared by King County’s Office of Economics and Financial Analysis shows that using 2013 dollars, sales tax collected in 2013 is worth $58 million less than that collected in 2007. Also, our projected operating costs in the adopted budget for 2014 are higher than our operating costs in 2008.
Metro is planning to cut about 600,000 hours of bus service to close a $75 million budget gap. However, the actual amount cut could change depending on our financial sutuation at the time the cuts are approved. After the Office of Economics and Financial Analysis releases its March sales tax forecast, the King County Executive will consider revising the amount of service to be cut.
Our four current RapidRide lines, along with two more scheduled to launch in 2014, support some of the highest ridership corridors in King County. RapidRide has received nearly $120 million in federal grants, which are covering about 60 percent of the program’s capital costs such as buses and station improvements. We've been awarded a $1.3 million state grant to help fund the operation of the F Line to connect Burien, SeaTac, Tukwila, and Renton. Our five-year projection indicates that RapidRide lines will deliver more than 15.5 million combined trips annually, making them among the most highly used bus routes in King County.
The City of Seattle is building its new Seattle Streetcar line with funding from the Sound Transit 2 measure passed by voters in 2008. This new line, the existing South Lake Union line, and planning for the future Center City Connector in downtown Seattle are managed by the city, not King County.
Metro Transit operates the Seattle Streetcar under contract with the City of Seattle, but does not pay to expand the service.
We have followed our service guidelines to develop a proposal to cut service by up to 17 percent.
Our strategic plan and service guidelines call for us to base these cuts on productivity (serving the most riders per service hour) while also taking into account social equity and geographic value. We can’t decide to spare one route or neighborhood by shifting cuts somewhere else. However, we may be able to make small changes to our proposal, or to our implementation of these cuts if adopted, in response to suggestions that help us reduce the negative impacts of the cuts.
We’re in the process of reviewing more than 5,000 comments received during our public comment period, which ended Feb. 7. We’ll document this feedback in a public engagement report that will be submitted to King County Council when the service reduction ordinance is transmitted to them in April. The council will then conduct its own public comment process before making a final decision. We’ll keep the public informed about this process via our Metro Matters email list (subscribe) and blog.
Even if your bus route is crowded when you ride it, it may not be crowded at other times of day, or along other parts of the route that you don’t use. This is especially true for peak-period-only routes that go in only one direction. They may be full while they pick up riders from their start to finish, but empty when they return to base or go back to start service again.
- Rides per service hour (how many rides the bus provides for every hour it’s away from its base).
- Passenger miles per bus mile (total miles traveled by all passengers for every mile the bus travels).
Learn more on our Planning pages — under the Service Guidelines tab, see "Managing performance of individual bus routes."
Metro has just completed a public outreach process to let people know about the proposed cuts and receive their feedback.
We plan to send a package of service changes to the County Council for approval in spring 2014. The public will have an opportunity to provide comment to the council before service changes are adopted.
After they are approved by the council, the service changes will be phased in beginning in September 2014.
If the proposed 17-percent service reductions are imposed on the fixed-route system, Access service may also be reduced.
There may also be an increased demand on Access service. The proposed bus service cuts eliminate bus routes, increase spacing between bus stops, and reduce service frequency and span, likely resulting in more crowding on buses. For some bus riders with disabilities who don’t currently use Access, any one of these factors may make using the bus more difficult—causing eligible riders to shift to Access.