Metro's funding gap equals bus cuts

Dept. of Transportation
Metro Transit Division

King Street Center
201 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98104
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Milestones 1970s

1970

  • Voters reject all four new Forward Thrust bonds, including rail plan, on May 19. A billion dollars of federal transit aid reserved for a Seattle transit system goes to Atlanta instead.
  • Seattle voters reorganize Seattle Transit System as city department on November 30.
  • Seattle Transit launches the first express bus service between downtown and Northgate on September 8. The "Blue Streak" is the model for dozens of subsequent park-and-ride routes.

1971

  • Federal Courts find Interstate-90 freeway environmental impact statement inadequate and halt construction for a decade.

1972

  • Seattle voters scrap R. H. Thomson Expressway and Bay Freeway on February 8.
  • King County voters approve Metro Transit and 0.3 percent sales tax on September 19, but only for buses not rail, while Seattle voters reject second Committee for Modernization of Electric Transit (COMET) plan to convert transit to electricity. It is the first time voters say "yes" to a transit tax plan since city residents approved the purchase of the Seattle Street Railway in 1918.
  • The Metro Council is given 100 days to create a new regional transportation agency. It starts by merging the public Seattle Transit System - purchased for $6.5 million - that served the city with the private Metropolitan Transit Corporation - purchased for $1.2 million - that served the suburban areas.
  • Seattle and suburban transit ridership sink to 31 million passengers. Many of the systems are on the verge of collapse.

Photo of METRO logo being placed on bus.
METRO logo being placed on bus.

1973

  • Metro Transit begins operating on January 1. See information about Metro's 30th Anniversary Celebration.
  • Fares are set at 20 cents base and 10 cents for each additional zone.
  • Carle Salley named first transit director in March.
  • Downtown Seattle "Magic Carpet" (ride-free) zone and first HOV lane open in September.
  • Urban Mass Transportation Act (UMTA) approves $86 million capital grant to Metro Transit.
  • Metro initiates its Ridematch program, which helps people who have similar commutes find others who want to carpool or vanpool. It is the first of many High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) transportation options other than traditional fixed route transit service.

1974

  • Richard Page succeeds Tom Gibbs as Metro executive director.
  • New Citizens' Transit Advisory Committee elects Dave Sprague as its first chair.
  • Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) strikes for two weeks in November.
  • Metro orders its first new buses.
  • Annual ridership at 35.1 million.

1975

  • First "Freeway Flyer" stop opens at Montlake.
  • State Legislature tries to renege on matching sales tax revenue with motor vehicle excise taxes.
  • MetroTRANSITion planning begins.
  • Annual ridership at 38 million.

1976

  • State Supreme Court upholds Metro's right to levy its share of the motor vehicle excise tax in King County.
  • Chuck Collins takes over as transit director.
  • UMTA rejects Metro proposal to begin planning a rail system.
  • Metro takes delivery on 145 AM General diesel buses.
  • Annual ridership at 41.6 million.

1977

  • Safeco Insurance becomes first company to subsidize employee transit passes.
  • Neil Peterson named new executive director as Richard Page takes over UMTA.
  • Old 30-zone fare system is streamlined into a two-zone system with 30-cent and 50-cent fares.
  • First Metro Park-and-Ride lots open in Auburn and Kent.
  • Metro East Operating Base opens in Bellevue.

1978

  • First articulated bus is put into operation.
  • Construction starts on trolley rehabilitation and expansion program.
  • ATU approves contract permitting use of part-time drivers in January, making Metro the first transit agency to do so.
  • Metro Council commits to building fully accessible bus fleet, orders 143 Flyer buses with wheelchair lifts.
  • First Transit Committee chair Aubrey Davis named to represent U.S. Department of Transportation in Northwest region. He is succeeded by Kirkland City Councilmember Robert Neir as committee chair.
  • Metro South Base opens in Tukwila.
  • The Operator of the Year recognition program begins to instill pride in operators by meaningful recognition of their excellent driving performance and customer relation skills. First Operator of the Year named in 1979.
  • Annual ridership at 49.4 million.

1979

  • Fares raised to 40 cents and 60 cents.
  • First accessible service for the disabled is introduced.
  • Voters reject 'merger' of King county and Metro on November 6.
  • Metro begins the Vanpool program, a shared-commute program that provides commuters with county-owned vans - the first program of its kind in the nation.
  • The Custom Bus program begins working with specific large employers, such as Boeing, to offer custom routes to select worksites.
  • New AM General trolley buses enter service.
  • Ridership reaches 58 million, surpassing original goal a year ahead of plan.

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Updated: Dec. 11, 2002