A painful proposal: cuts when we should be growing
November 7, 2013
Today I announced a proposal to cut up to 17 percent of Metro’s service if no new funding becomes available. The proposed reductions would touch more than 80 percent of Metro’s bus routes, eliminating 74 of them and cutting trips or making other cost-saving changes to 107 more. About 55,000 rides per day could be lost as our service would revert to its 1997 level.
We don’t want to make these drastic reductions
They would hurt Metro riders, our economy, and our quality of life. Cuts would be especially painful now: According to our service guidelines, we should be growing by 15 percent just to reduce crowding on our buses, keep them on schedule, and deliver the amount of service needed today. With Metro’s ridership growing toward a record high, we should be investing even more for the future.
Unfortunately, we have no choice but to plan cuts
Metro faces a $75 million annual shortfall after the two-year Congestion Reduction Charge and our reserve spending end next June. Our reduction proposal also deletes the extra service we’re providing to ease congestion caused by the Alaskan Way Viaduct project. State funding for this service ends in June as well, but we’re seeking an extension so we can continue to help hold off gridlock in and around downtown Seattle.
As the Great Recession and slow recovery have depleted the sales tax revenue we depend on, we’ve acted on every opportunity to cut costs or boost revenue, saving or gaining $800 million to keep our system nearly whole. Many of our financial reforms will bring ongoing benefits, and we continue looking for new efficiencies—by participating in the Lean program initiated by Executive Constantine, for example. But after all we’ve done, we have no options left that would generate enough to close the sizable gap ahead.
One thing we can’t change is our funding base, which relies too heavily on unreliable sales tax revenue. We’re encouraged by Gov. Inslee’s decision to convene a special legislative session that will consider transportation funding. Authorization of new local funding tools for transit would give King County voters an opportunity to avert, or lessen, the cuts I outlined this morning. But legislative action isn’t certain, so we have to continue preparing for service reductions.
With today’s announcement we’re launching a robust public outreach process
I invite you to learn more about the proposed cuts and what they would mean for you. You can find plenty of information in our Financial Stability & Sustainability website, or come to one of the many community meetings we’ll be holding around the county in the next three months.
Our proposed changes are based on our service guidelines, which help us make the best use of diminished resources. We’re also interested in hearing any ideas from the public for reducing impacts on riders, serving more customers, and still cutting the necessary amount of service.
We’ll submit a final proposal to the County Council by next April.
Many things could change over the next weeks and months. I’ll keep you informed and hope you’ll stay involved in the public discussion about Metro’s 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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