News from Metro's General Manager
November 3, 2011
We're taking steps to make the bus system more productive, effective
Metro is beginning to advance plans to change our transit system in 2012. Our goals are to improve service quality and to make transit networks more productive and effectivein other words, make better use of our resources to get the most people where they want to go.
This is the next step in a process that began last year, when the County's Regional Transit Task Force recommended a new approach to allocating transit service. The task force said Metro's service investments should be based primarily on productivity, while also giving weight to social equity and fair geographic distribution of service.
We folded this approach into our new Strategic Plan for Public Transportation, which the County Council adopted in July. The Council also adopted objective, data-based service guidelines so the public can see the basis for our service-change proposals.
In August, when the Council adopted the temporary $20 Congestion Reduction Charge to preserve Metro's overall level of service for two years, it directed Metro to use our new plan and guidelines to make the transit system more cost-effective.
Restructuring a large portion of the Metro network
As part of this effort, this month Metro will be talking with community members about concepts for restructuring more than 60 bus routes, most in Seattle and some in Shoreline, Burien and Des Moines. Our suggestions seek to give riders connections to more places, reduce duplication, create more direct routes, and shift service from relatively unproductive routes to heavily used corridors.
Many of our ideas revolve around the planned start next September of the RapidRide C and D lines. Together, these lines will form an 18-mile transit backbone connecting Westwood Village in the south end of West Seattle, the Morgan and Alaska junctions, downtown Seattle, Uptown, Ballard, and Crown Hill in northwest Seattle. RapidRide's fast, frequent service to so many major destinations will add a new dimension to public transportation in Seattle, and some of our ideas for restructuring the transit network nearby are meant to give riders easier access to the new lines.
This is just the first round of public engagement on this major service restructure. After hearing from people this fall, we will develop proposals and invite public comment again, early next year. The County Executive will present final recommendations to the Council in April. If approved, the changes will take effect in September 2012.
Although our suggestions are based on objective guidelines, there is more than one way to redesign the transit network. We want to hear from current and potential riders about what would work best for them. We've launched a new website, "Have a Say," where you can learn more and provide input on the September restructuring. We're holding public meetings as well.
Right-sizing, reductions and reinvestments
As part of the Congestion Reduction Charge legislation, the Council directed Metro to replace less productive bus routes in certain areas with cost-saving alternative services. In February, we will "right-size" three low-ridership routes in east and south King County, replacing regular fixed-route bus service with Dial-a-Ride Transit (DART). This action is expected to save about $400,000 annually. Learn more »
The Council also directed us to reduce at least 100,000 service hours from bus routes with relatively low productivity and reinvest those hours. We are using our new service guidelines to determine where we should reduce or eliminate low-performing routes and shift the service hours to more heavily used corridors to reduce overcrowding or improve on-time performance, or to satisfy unmet transit needs. You can view the potential changes and comment on the "Have a Say" website. The Executive will give the Council a final proposal for these reinvestments in December; they would take effect next June.
You will no doubt have many questions about these proposed service changes; our planners and community outreach staff will work hard to address your questions and concerns. Although some revisions may be difficult to accept, Metro is making these types of changes to improve the overall productivity of the system as we continue looking for ways to stretch the value of the public investment in Metro.
Kevin Desmond, General Manager
King County Metro Transit