This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

20:40:40 is a rule built into funding legislation for King County Metro that allocates funds for new service hours by area. 40% goes to the east side, 40% goes south, and 20% goes to Seattle and north (more complete explanation in this PDF). This sounded strange to me the first time I heard it, and now it seems unbelievable. Seattle has 35% of the population of King County. We must have 5x the ridership of either other area (anyone have #’s for this?). So we pay more in taxes, much more in fares, and get 20% of the benefit?

The justification for 20/40/40 was that Seattle has more buses than the rest of the county, and it was a way for them to catch up. But I’ve yet to hear of a full eastside bus (especially off-peak, which is what improves with more service hours), yet the #2 leaves people behind because it can’t cram any more people on the bus.

20:40:40 was actually an ingenious plan, from the non-Seattle perspective. There is no way, with 35% of the vote, Seattle could have stopped it. I suppose it was nice of the county to give us anything at all.

But maybe all this is beside the point. Although we could certainly use more service hours in Seattle, what we really need is more infrastructure. With our same number of drivers, we could double frequency and quadruple capacity by adding traffic-separated streetcars.

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