This week a King County Council majority of Democrat Rod Dembowski and four Republicans* backed a plan to not enact any of the Executive’s proposed cuts except for the September 2014 round (see the breakdown of what disappears when here). PubliCola reports that yesterday
Republican county council member Kathy Lambert… proposed (and passed, with support from Dembowski and the council’s other three Republicans) an an amendment that would preserve a half-dozen Dial-a-Ride Transit (DART)** routes in unincorporated King County that were deemed, under Metro’s service guidelines (which consider factors like ridership, cost, economic justice, and social equity), to be “low-performing.”
The DART service is operated by Hopelink, a nonprofit that serves seniors and people with disabilities. Lambert is on Hopelink’s board of directors.
Meanwhile, the other four Democrats presented their own “compromise” plan (with legal text) that technically enacts all four rounds of cuts. However, only the first two would be certain to happen. The Executive would have until November 30, 2014 to inform the Council that it had identified additional revenue (through new revenue projections, a Seattle tax package, or some other “efficiencies”). It would then have to submit by January 7th a “plan consistent with the Metro Transit Service Guidelines recommending restoring some routes and service included in the February 2015, June 2015 and September 2015 service changes.”
Rob Johnson, Executive Director of Transportation Choices Coalition and friend of the blog, said that on Monday his organization would back the Democratic proposal because the Dembowski/Republican plan “is a bad idea” and the County must “face reality” that some cuts will be unavoidable.
Although the differences between these proposals are largely technical, there is one significant advantage of the Democratic plan. Rather than preserving existing service patterns, it would subject a larger portion of current service to the Metro Service Guidelines, the path to a more rational, ridership-maximizing bus network. This is partly because it enacts all the cuts and then restores the service hours according to the guidelines, and also because it avoids this grubby bit of pork-barrel DART spending.
The Council will consider both proposals Monday at 1:30pm in Council Chambers. As always, public comment is welcome.
* The Council is officially nonpartisan, but all members either previously ran with party affiliation or proudly declare their allegiance.
** Specifically, 903, 909, 919, 927, 931 and 935.