Get In The Know: Alternative Service Delivery
Recognizing that a one-size-fits-all approach to bus service may not meet every community’s needs, Metro is seeking cost-effective and innovative transit options for rural King County. Our goal is to provide transportation services of the right size, scale, and type for each community Metro serves.
Our five-year plan for alternative service delivery, accepted by the King County Council on Sept. 17, provides a framework for providing alternatives to fixed-route bus service in less-populated areas. It is based on Metro’s strategic planning policies and shaped by public feedback.
In the short term, given Metro’s limited revenues, alternative services will play a key role in addressing transit needs in areas where fixed-route bus service may be reduced or eliminated. In the longer term, alternative transit services could be used to complement existing bus service if additional revenues become available.
Now that the Council has acted on the alternative services plan, Metro is beginning to reach out to community organizations and the public to explore service partnerships. Our first project is in the Snoqualmie Valley.
Metro will use our service guidelines to identify potential routes that would be good candidates for replacement with alternatives services.
Once these are identified, we will meet with community stakeholders, such as bus riders, local jurisdictions, schools, churches, and employers served by the route to identify existing transportation providers, service gaps, and mobility needs.
Metro will ask users of the identified routes how and why they use the service, what other transportation options might be available to the community, and what connections to the public transit network they need to maintain.
Metro will then propose two or three alternative service options for each candidate route, based on the following criteria:
- The ability to expand travel options for residents in the community
- How well the option maintains the public’s access to “important trips”—for example, to critical medical services
- How well the option addresses Metro’s service guidelines related to social equity and geographic value
Metro will invite the community to propose other alternative service options or modify the ones Metro is proposing. This will be an opportunity to bring in other community partners to help provide service.
Metro will choose one or more alternative products for implementation and recommend them to the County Council as part of its regular service change process. Once an alternative service has been adopted and implemented, Metro will evaluate it annually for future funding.
Metro met with stakeholders from January through March 2012 to develop and refine the five-year plan submitted to the County Council. We also invited bus riders to complete an online questionnaire about alternative services, and the feedback we received will provide valuable insight as we discusses options with communities where we’re considering alternative services.
Now that the five-year plan has been adopted, we will work with communities in these areas to identify existing transportation providers, service gaps, and local travel needs. Communities and stakeholders served by routes that are candidates for replacement with alternative service will help us develop options for delivering that service.
The following documents approved by the King County Council direct Metro to develop alternative service delivery options:
- Metro’s Strategic Plan for Public Transportation 2011-2021
- Ordinance 17143, adopting the strategic plan
- Ordinance 17169, adopting the 2011 Congestion Reduction Charge
The Metropolitan King County Council adopted the Strategic Plan for Public Transportation 2011-2021 in July 2011. The strategic plan was the culmination of a two-year effort and was guided by the recommendations of the 2010 Regional Transit Task Force.
Three strategies in the strategic plan form the basis of Metro’s alternative service delivery program. Strategies 2.1.1 and 2.1.3 encourage Metro to design and offer a variety of products and services (including non-fixed-route transit) that meet different mobility needs and provide value to all parts of King County.
Strategy 6.2.3 directs Metro to “develop and implement alternative public transportation services and delivery strategies.”
This ordinance adopted the Strategic Plan for Public Transportation 2011-2021.
The ordinance included specific requirements for alternative service delivery. Section 7 requires the King County Executive to transmit a five-year implementation plan for alternatives to traditional transit service by June 15, 2012.
In August 2011, the Council adopted this ordinance approving the two-year Congestion Reduction Charge. The ordinance includes specific direction concerning alternative service delivery.
Section 10 requires Metro to begin implementing “right-sized” services to reduce operating costs by June 9, 2012.
To comply with this directive, Metro converted three bus routes to DART service in February 2012.