Will another fare increase mean that my bus will be less crowded than it is now?
Because fuel prices are affecting everyone’s budget, more and more people consider transit an affordable alternative to driving alone. Metro has been working diligently to meet the increased demand for service. One of the reasons Metro is proposing this fare increase is to avoid service cuts, which would almost definitely result in more overcrowding more often.
Metro is using Transit Now funding to expand bus service and reduce crowding on heavily used routes. Metro and the City of Seattle have formed a service partnership that will add trips on routes 3, 4, 10, 11, 12, 14, 26, 28 and 44 in September.
Will Transit Now funds be used to cover unexpected costs?
Transit Now, approved by voters in 2006, is an initiative to expand transit services by 15 to 20 percent by 2016. The initiative is intended to help Metro keep pace with regional growth and transit service demand. Metro is following a plan to phase in Transit Now service expansions over a 10-year period. Metro has been delivering on pace with the phasing plan and is committed to moving forward. By year’s end, Metro will have delivered around 110,000 new service hours—about 17 percent of the new service promised in the 10-year Transit Now initiative.
Metro has been using Transit Now dollars to expand bus service on high-ridership routes and in growing residential areas, to develop new bus rapid transit service in five corridors, and to improve Metro’s Rideshare and paratransit services. Metro is determined to moving forward with the Transit Now program. The same fuel prices that have hit Metro have caused riders to flock to buses, and make the promised service expansions under Transit Now more important than ever.
What will Metro do if the proposed increase is not approved?
If a fare increase is not approved, Metro must find an ongoing annual reduction of $22 million. This would require Metro to consider service reductions, which could affect both the level and the quality of service and could include the deferral or cancellation of capital projects.
While I certainly didn’t appreciate Executive Sims’ attempt to stick his hand in the light rail cookie jar, I hope he’s able to scrounge up the money to keep the RapidRide program going. My colleagues (and, uh, I) have been pretty skeptical of the whole project’s prospects, but at least three of the five lines (West Seattle, Ballard, Aurora) are serving areas that will have to wait till at least ST3 to see dedicated ROW rail service. I’d certainly support another fare increase if that’s what it took.
However, if push comes to shove, the Pacific Highway and Eastside RapidRide lines largely duplicate planned light rail service, and in the event ST2.1 passes these should be the first on the chopping block.
Photo by Oranviri, as usual, from the Seatrans Flickr pool.