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King County Council approves Metro Transit service reductions compromise

The King County Council approved some Metro Transit service cuts on Monday but delayed other cuts. - COURTESY PHOTO, Metro Transit
The King County Council approved some Metro Transit service cuts on Monday but delayed other cuts.
— image credit: COURTESY PHOTO, Metro Transit

The Metropolitan King County Council unanimously approved on Monday a compromise plan to move forward with certain bus service reductions for Metro.

The council decided to defer an additional 200,000 hours of service reductions originally proposed for June and September 2015, pending adoption of the 2015/2016 county budget.

”I appreciate the broad support expressed by today’s council vote supporting a measured and budget-based approach to transit service changes,” said Councilmember Rod Dembowski, chair of the council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee. “We listened to the community and today’s action is responsive to the concerns that have been raised. I thank my colleagues and Executive Dow Constantine for their hard work in forging today’s legislation.”

Following the defeat of proposition 1, the county executive asked the council to approve legislation that would reduce Metro bus service by 550,000 hours between September 2014 and September 2015. The ordinance approved implements only the service reductions originally proposed for September of this year, with a focus on cutting bus routes that are in the bottom 25 percent of productivity in accordance with the county’s adopted Transit Service Guidelines.

The adopted legislation also authorizes 188,000 hours of service to be cut in February, but does not approve the specific routes to be eliminated or revised. The 188,000 hours would be adjusted based upon the recommendation of an ad-hoc committee created to review the July and August economic forecasts and additional financial data from Metro Transit. When the service reductions in February are set, the county executive would transmit a service reduction ordinance for consideration by the council.

The ordinance also calls for a report from the county executive by Sept. 30, describing revenue and expense reduction options available to avoid service reductions proposed for 2015. This report will build on existing work to identify further savings and additional revenue already underway by the council, including an independent audit of Metro's operations, finances and fund balance policies, changing fare policies to increase revenue, and a peer review of Metro.

The compromise acknowledges the need for additional community input and calls for community workshops on proposed transit reductions with affected communities and stakeholders. It also requires a report to be transmitted to the council with any future service reduction proposal, setting forth other options considered.

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