The King County Metro leadership briefed the Regional Transit Committee on March 18 about the current budget situation and different options for service cuts.  Video is here and the slides (which are illegible in the video) can be viewed in Powerpoint here.

Summary below the jump.

Metro has already implemented fare increases, some capital program cuts, and some operating budget cuts.  Moreover, of the $70m Metro won in the federal stimulus, $50m is directly applicable to the operating budget, and of that $25m will be applied to each 2009 and 2010 operations.  Together with the most up-to-date revenue projections, the current deficits (Slide 9) are as follows:
The bottom line is the current situation, after recently implemented cuts and after applying the stimulus funds.

The video has extensive discussion by Metro GM Kevin Desmond and Director of Service Planning Victor Obeso (starting at 10:00) that goes into extensive detail about the various ways that Metro is looking at to close the gap and decide on what cuts to make.

I’d like to call your attention to slide 24, titled the “Decision-Making Continuum for Scenarios”.  It discusses some of the basic value judgments that embody the tradeoffs Metro is facing, and it’s a useful reminder that the decision on what routes to cut is hardly black-and-white, in spite of all the accusations of empty buses on the Eastside:
I editorialized in favor of hosing the “choice” riders last month.

One intriguing point is that 16,000 service hours are being added in 2010 under Transit Now plans using the 20/40/40 framework, in addition to some “service partnerships” that provide 12,000 hours.  The same items are 42K and 35K in 2010.  There are many, many more hours in the outlying years (slide 16):

It’s seems intuitive that shelving these service expansions would incur cuts according to the 20/40/40 rule rather than the 60/20/20 cut rule that we explained in February.

20 Replies to “Metro Cuts Update”

  1. Empty buses on the east side? gave me & my bus riding coworkers a good laugh. Thanks :)

    1. It’s actually very true. During commute times, sure, the buses are full, but in the city they’re full all day. Because you send a bus out for a 300 or 400 mile route, it goes back and forth several times, and those ridership spikes are seriously diluted by dead times.

  2. Heh, yeah, I’d like to see an empty, non-standing bus on the Eastside =)

    But good stuff, Martin! This should be pretty interesting.

    1. I think it largely depends on the route and the time of day. Some routes just don’t have much in the way of riders per service hour even during peak periods.

      Also consider that many high-ridership routes are at or near crush loads outside peak hours (mid-day, evening, weekends).

    2. The 236 and 238, routes which pass near my house are empty most of the time even when they are using the short 30′ buses. The 255 on the other hand, as one of the trunk routes on the upper Eastside, does get decent ridership during midday and evenings but it’s nothing compared to central Seattle.

  3. Thank you so much for posting this material. The graphic of competing equities is great. The system is largely designed to support commuters/jobs, which somewhat explains some of the empty buses on the Eastside. The land use patterns are responsible for a lot of that empty space on buses, too, for all the reasons that you guys bring up – time and again.

    Complicated stuff, but I really appreciate the posting of the slides.

  4. ‘Developing’ areas? Shouldn’t there be NO MORE developing areas?

    Here is a thought. Make incorporated municipalities run small buses inside their borders (with a service plan for unincorporated neighbors) and have only Sound Transit BRT and light rail otherwise. Set a standard for local service. The locals may leave their boundaries only to go to the nearest BRT center. Go ahead and build ‘gasp’ parking garages at the BRT and light rail stations. Build them so they can be repurposed when we get our act together. Realistically there will be drivers. But, focus on getting the long commutes off the road as ST is trying to do now. Everyone I know who has tried it, loves the BRT service.

    Means some shifting around of dollars. It gives the locals the ability to prioritize their local trips however their citizens want it. Don’t have the money to supply that infrastructure? Then don’t build. It focuses the regional effort on intercity trips and keeps the local tax dollars local so we can see what we are really willing to pay for.

    1. I had a similar thought when there was discussion about lack of interchange between BART and local service. A unified regional plan has a lot going for it and I’m not sure just yet I’d advocate for tossing it out but I was thinking that in many ways the problems, especially fare structures would be better served if each area had it’s own service. This would also give city planners some incentive to contain employment centers and high density residential to those corridors that are most efficiently served. It does make the system a little less “friendly” but real commuters will adapt pretty quickly. If it results in better overall coverage I think visitors would rather have that than a unified fare card although that could still be offered via some (Eurail type pass, show airline or hotel reservations to qualify).

  5. Bottom line, however, is that the fairest way to cut service, if there are truly no alternatives to cutting service, is to cut trips with the fewest riders (or fewest rider miles) per bus hour. This is the only way to minimize the pain, and obviously needs to be done outside any arbitrary formula (e.g. 20/40/40)

    1. In consideration of emmisions reductions, maybe the low ridership routes/times need to go. But, maybe increasing van pools?

      In the interest of economic fairness, it’s kind of difficult to take a graveyard shift job in a place with no transit when you do not have a car…

      On the other hand, it was remarked that the zoning that allows office parks on cheap land near the urban boundary might need to be rethought.

      1. As someone who works graveyard I know what wonk is talking about. I had to turn down graveyard jobs because the buses did not run there that late. Not complaining just making a statement of reality. I did for a while have a job on the eastside, in Bellevue. I worked from 6 P.M. to 6 A.M. Mondays to Wednesdays and from 6 P.M. to Midnight on Saturdays. No buses ran from Bellevue to Des Moines. I had to catch a bus from Bellevue to Seattle than catch a 174 home. I had to make due with what was available. My point, sometimes you can’t get what you want. By all means fight for it. I do not want my 194 route to go. I may not have a choice. It looks like I may have to take light rail and have a longer commute. Less free time. If I lose the fight (and I’m pretty sure I will) I will have to do what in nessassary to get to work.

      2. I don’t know the specifics of your commute, but with Link you’ll probably have more frequent service evenings/weekends than with the 174/194. Link will likely be somewhat more reliable as well. One issue I often have with the evening routes is buses tend to show up anywhere from 10 minutes early to 30 minutes late. The 174/194 isn’t as bad as some routes but it isn’t great either.

  6. I do not know if my commute will be shorter with light rail. I will have to catch a bus to the airport. Then wait for the rail to show. With the 194 I go from the airport to Sodo Busway then downtown then 8th and olive where I get off. With the light rail I will have to go through other areas of Seattle before we hit the sodo, downtown areas. Usually the 194 I take is not late. It was today.

    1. Well, I hope with RapidRide on 99 South of the S 154th station your commute ends up being at least a wash.

      The good news is assuming you live and work in the same places in 10 years you will eventually have a one seat ride on Link.

      1. Oh and you will have a more reliable trip to Seattle and more frequent service which may save you some time as well.

      2. If I have the same job 10 years from now something will be wrong. I am currently going to school to become a teacher. I want to start an academy attached to my church.

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