Although King County Metro has found short-term fixes to their ongoing shortfall, come 2012 they’re still going to have to either find significant new revenue or cut service.
With that in mind, in a proposal from Larry Phillips and Jane Hague, the county council plans to put together a transit task force (.doc) to make policy recommendations that could change the high-level design of Metro. These would not only include particulars such as how Metro grows or shrinks with available revenue, but goes as far as how they weight land use, environmental and social justice, and efficiency when determining where and how to provide transit, and even what Metro’s role in our transportation system should be.
I think this sounds like the kind of overhaul Metro needs. This year’s discussion of service cuts seems like it was just a window into a larger problem. As we’ve seen, Metro has routes that serve a few dozen people a day, and routes that serve eight thousand. Is it really Metro’s place to provide minimal service everywhere to the detriment of really usable core routes? How can we make Metro’s operations help serve our long term land use goals, but keep serving transit dependent communities? How can we stabilize Metro’s revenue so we don’t keep having to argue over it?
This task force could answer these questions. It will consist of a broad group of stakeholders – elected officials, representatives of social services, transit agencies, environmental, business, and educational groups, and others. Their timeline starts in February, with policy recommendations ready for implementation in September.