My New Year's prediction: 2015 will be big for Metro
January 9, 2015
I'm excited about 2015 — it promises to be a watershed year for Metro. Our financial situation has improved thanks to our many efficiency gains, a stronger economy, lower fuel costs, and Seattle voters who approved funding for increased Metro service. We're now able to move toward County Executive Dow Constantine's vision for transit: more and better service that will reduce congestion, protect our environment, and get more people where they need to go.
Almost every month will bring something new:
We hit the ground running this week as Executive Constantine unveiled our new Puget Sound Trip Planner app for mobile devices. It lets you see schedules and plan cross-agency trips with 11 public transportation providers in our region. For Metro buses and the Sound Transit routes Metro operates, it has real-time departure estimates and a map showing where your bus is. There's much more — see what the app can do »
Also this month, the Seattle and King County councils will consider a proposed Community Mobility Contract, with action expected in February. If it's approved, Seattle will see service increases in June and September. The city's investments will improve reliability on chronically late buses, relieve overcrowding, and give riders more frequent and convenient transit options around the clock on both weekdays and weekends. All told, service in Seattle will increase about 10 percent to help meet growing demand and support the city's transit master plan.
In other parts of the county we'll be expanding alternative services with funding the County Council included in our 2015-2016 budget. February will bring the launch of a commuter shuttle service between Snoqualmie, North Bend and the Issaquah Highlands Park & Ride. We're working with Mercer Island and Burien on alternatives to regular bus routes in those communities. We'll also be exploring alternative services in Redmond, Vashon Island, and south King County. Learn more »
March 1 is the start date for our ORCA Lift reduced fare for qualified riders (household income below 200 percent of the federal poverty level). Recommended by a community advisory committee, this fare was proposed by Executive Constantine and unanimously adopted by the County Council last year. Sound Transit followed suit, adopting the same $1.50 fare for qualified Link riders. Learn more »
We'll boost our region's effort to confront climate change when our new zero-emission, energy-efficient electric trolley buses start service in late summer. And in a test program largely funded by the Federal Transit Administration, we'll begin operating two fast-charge battery-powered buses, helping to advance this emerging technology and allowing us to gauge the possibility of adopting it someday.
Toward the end of the year we'll partner with Sound Transit to test another new technology: a mobile ticketing app that allows riders to pay fares with their smartphones.
While we roll out these innovations, we'll also be moving toward long-term improvements. We're working with the City of Seattle to create an inviting environment for transit users along downtown Seattle's Third Avenue, our region's most heavily used transit corridor. See what's envisioned in the just-released Urban Design report. And the county's Service Guidelines Task Force will be considering how to refine the guidelines for allocating Metro service to best meet the needs of everyone in the county.
Our biggest planning project will be the development of Metro's first long-range plan since the mid-1990s. Metro is by far the region's largest transit provider, and will be for decades to come. It's critical that we position ourselves to meet the county's growing demand for transit and support the emerging light rail lines. The long-range plan will also lay the groundwork for a financial plan for possible future funding to sustain Metro service. We look forward to working closely with Sound Transit, the Puget Sound Regional Council, cities, and the public to define a shared vision for public transportation and the part Metro will play. We'll launch the planning process later this month; watch for information about how to get involved.
Metro is moving forward. We're excited about the opportunities to grow and improve service for our customers throughout the year — and far into the future.
Kevin Desmond, General Manager
King County Metro Transit
General Manager, King County Metro Transit
If you live in King County, Metro is your public transit system. I want you to know about our performance, the issues we face, and the innovations we are bringing your way.
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