Metro is looking to save money on rural routes in the Snoqalmie Valley:
Residents who want to improve public transportation in the Snoqualmie Valley or have ideas about how Metro might better serve their communities are invited to attend two upcoming meetings. The meetings, which will include an opportunity to talk one-on-one with Metro staff, will help shape future transportation services in the valley. People are also invited to provide feedback about their travel needs via an online survey. The deadline for survey comments is Nov. 4.
[Meeting times and locations at end of post.]
The Snoqualmie Valley is the first of several rural areas where Metro is shaping future bus service as part of the County’s newly adopted Transit Alternative Services Plan. The plan establishes a framework for how fixed-route bus service – along with potential alternatives to this costly service – might look like in less populated areas of the county as Metro looks for ways to get the most out of every available transit dollar. In addition to operating regularly scheduled bus service, Metro provides alternative services such as community vans, dial-a-ride transit, and ridesharing options. Other potential alternatives might include products such as community-access transportation, flexible transit services or shared taxis.
Fixed routes in the scope of this restructure include:
- 209, an all-day local bus serving Issaquah, Fall City, Snoqualmie and North Bend.
- 215, an I-90 commuter express serving Issaquah, Snoqualmie Ridge, Snoqualmie and North Bend.
- 224, a local bus serving Redmond, Duvall, Carnation and Fall City.
- 232, a bidirectional, peak express bus connecting Bellevue, Overlake, Redmond and Duvall.
- 311, an I-405 commuter express primarily serving Woodinville, but with some trips continuing to Duvall.
Judging by the schedules for these routes, the provided level of service is already being done with the smallest possible number of coaches, so any savings, of necessity, must come either from cuts or conversion to a cheaper form of service. None of these services attracts, or could ever attract, a particularly large number of riders in the Snoqualmie Valley, so the goal in this area is necessarily coverage and connectivity, not high ridership; and Metro’s press release suggests they’re looking to save money, rather than make budget-neutral changes.
With that in mind, there are a few ideas which stand out based on looking at the map, after the jump.
- Duplication of the tail of the 311 and 232. It seems like Metro could save money and maintain a good commuter connection for Duvall residents by terminating the 311 at Woodinville and arranging transfers from the 545. The tail of the 311 is, I’m told, very lightly used.
- Shifting the 209 to serve the alignment of of the 215 on Snoqualmie Parkway, which would trade coverage of Fall City for Snoqualmie Ridge, a much larger number of people; it would also cut back the run-time, allowing, perhaps, for an couple more trips a day. Fall City would still have lifeline service from the 224, and the only attraction or employment center which would lose coverage would be Snoqualmie Falls.
- Potentially, cut the 215 and use the money to operate more 218 trips. The I-90 corridor is very crowded out to Eastgate, but the 215 is very weak east of Issaquah. If the 209 were modified as described previously and the transfer were arranged well, this could provide a much more cost effective, but still usable two-seat ride, while slightly relieving crowding on the I-90 corridor.
Of course, any proposal to take away commuter one-seat-rides will, if experience is any guide, be met with howls of protest from not just the small number of people who are actually impacted, but from lots of other people in the area who probably don’t ride the bus, but like the fuzzy feeling of having it there. Given that the push to “right-size” Metro service comes in part from these exurban and rural areas of King County, it will be interesting to see whether support for right-sizing is still there where the rubber meets the road, as it will if Metro proposes any cuts to the commuter routes.
The community meetings will be held:
Wednesday, Nov. 7, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Cherry Valley Elementary School
26701 Cherry Valley Road, Duvall
Tuesday, Nov. 13, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Fall City Elementary School
33314 SE 42nd Street, Fall City
I know we have some commenters knowledgeable about this. Chime in!