Photo by Oran
Photo by Oran

[Update: Aubrey Cohen at the P-I takes this post and runs with it, by collecting some quotes from some of the important players.]

The service allocation rule known as 20/40/40 is a directive from the King County Council that requires new Metro service hours in the proportions 20%/40%/40%. That is, 20% to the West area (Seattle, Shoreline, etc.), 40% to the East area, and 40% to South King County.  It is intended to gradually remedy the traditional allocation to Seattle well in excess of its share of the County’s population, and bring service to areas that currently have little or no transit access.

Critics have long contended that this reduces Metro’s cost efficiency and denies relief for overloaded routes in dense, transit-dependent areas.  As we discovered in February, Metro policy dictates that cuts be made in proportion to the current service levels (approximately 60/20/20).  This means that cuts would heavily impact Seattle, but restored service would be directed to the suburbs.  $100m in operating cuts would therefore require a $300m budget increase to fully restore the situation in Seattle.

This asymmetry, combined with the strong likelihood of some service cuts, has given new energy to the 20/40/40 opponents.  Last week, the P-I reported that  King County Executive candidate and State Sen. Fred Jarrett, perhaps trying to reach beyond his Eastside base, came out against 20/40/40 as a “failed model.”

On nearly the same day, Mayor Nickels’ office sent a letter to Interim County Executive Kurt Triplett (pdf) insisting that the strictly geographic criteria be replaced with four metrics:

  • Maximize Ridership – keep the most riders in the system and meet farebox recovery goals across the system
  • Serve transit-dependent communities – get buses to those who use transit the most and depend on transit to get them where they need to go
  • Meet Growth Management goals – serve urban centers that encourage density and compact communities, keeping in line with VISION 2040
  • Address climate change – provide cleaner alternatives to the car and make reductions in vehicle miles traveled

Next, Metro should treat these service reductions as suspensions, not cuts.  If reductions are made, service should be restored to each subarea from which it was suspended to reach today’s allocation levels as quickly as possible.

I don’t know if the votes are really there in the County Council to overturn 20/40/40, but I’d be surprised if the “suspension” idea didn’t fly.

65 Replies to “20/40/40 Under Fire”

  1. Assigning bus service hours like this is crazy. What’s happening is not only are hours not going where they belong but the hours going to the eastside are useless. There are times/places where more buses would help but there aren’t enough buses and drivers to serve these peak routes. So, to meet the political promises we end up adding off peak and weekend service. Dumb dee dumb dumb…

    Seattle has disproportionately more hours because it has the density to support public transit. Bellevue, probably the most dense area outside of Seattle is barely to the point that it can support public transit. There’s a threshold where no matter how much of the total population if the density isn’t there transit should be limited to peak commute hours. That’s hard to do and yeah, maybe the eastside takes it in the shorts for a while but wasted service when it’s not needed just to say it’s “serving” that area is not the answer, it’s part of the problem.

  2. 40-40-20 began in the early 90’s as a grass roots effort by the Kent Transit Advisory Board. When I and other members expressed our frustration to Mayor White, several meetings resulted with Paul Toliver, of Metro/KC and key council members.
    As the suburbs grew at a faster pace than Seattle, so did our taxes being paid to Metro. We simply made the case for fairness. At that time, a far higher share of the taxes collected countywide went for services solely within the Seattle City limits.
    Why can’t we get good bus service too, we cried? We’re paying for it!
    We were trying to get the Kent Shopper Shuttle going, along with service to Green River CC, but without any hopes of funding, our efforts seemed futile. Exploratory meetings at the state level to see if we could opt out of Metro, and form an LID to run our own buses got some traction with other suburban cities, and finally some increased funding out of the ‘Six Year Plan’ in 1996. It’s true, squeaky wheels get greased.
    Anyway, I’m not sure of the chronology and players after that for the actual ordinance, but we did get our shuttle and GRCC going, and both are very productive. Metro, King County Council, City of Kent, our Chamber and the Downtown Association all played a supportive role.
    But times are much tougher now, and the suburbs have had over 10 years of expanded transit spending as a result of the rule. With unprecedented budget shortfalls, coupled with higher transit demand countywide, I think it’s time to entrust the entire revenue source to the good hands of our Metro Planners. Let them recommend to the council the routes, spans, and frequency of all the buses that move the most people, while preserving the needed commute and local service connections, regardless of sub area equity.
    Filling a 100 million budget hole this and future years will require large service cuts and system efficiencies. Let the Planners wield their scalpels with precision and mercy for a while, without the shackles of political games, and turf wars. At least give it a try, until the 800 lb. gorilla in the room gets too greedy again!

    1. You make 20/40/40 sound like something it only sort of was designed for: increasing bus service in the suburbs. Sure the ostensible goal was to do that, but it was more meant as a punitive measure for seattle and the central business district.

      That’s reason the three-digit buses that make their only Seattle stops downtown are half-paid for by Seattle, and why a most of the “40/40” routes for the suburbs are lower ridership suburb to suburb routes.

      1. The three-digit buses are only charged to Seattle if they have reverse-peak capacity. So the 257 is not a Seattle bus, whereas the 217 is (it’s for Seattle-based commuters).

        Then you have the all-day routes 150, 255, 271, etc., that are half paid by Seattle. There are certainly Seattle residents taking these to work or school, but you might argue that a 50/50 split is not right. As a simple rule, though, I think it works pretty well.

        As for whether or not the intent was more to “punish” Seattle than to get more resources for the constituencies that elect 5 out of 9 council seats, I don’t know what was in their hearts in the past, so I’ll defer to you.

      2. Well it was never intended to ‘punish Seattle’, just fund our local needs with taxes being generated in that area. Actually, we never even contemplated any sort of splits. The allocations happened at the council level, some time later. Like I said, we were just trying to get a couple of routes going!

    2. As the suburbs grew at a faster pace than Seattle, so did our taxes being paid to Metro. We simply made the case for fairness. At that time, a far higher share of the taxes collected countywide went for services solely within the Seattle City limits.

      That’s very different than the rational given in the post, “intended to gradually remedy the traditional allocation to Seattle well in excess of its share of the County’s population”.

      How does the service actual stack up against revenue, fares and taxes, generated by the three regions?

    3. I often wonder why suburban towns feel so bruised by the central City. It seems to me that the suburban areas owe their existence to the central City as they have little jobs to support their bedroom communities. Further, no income tax means you take money earned in Seattle and spend it back in your City, leaving Seattle high and dry.

      Regarding transit, all the transit using Seattleites leave capacity on Seattle roadways for suburbanites to drive into the City (which they don’t pay for as mentioned above). As they drive into the City, the consequences of driving are left with the City as they return to their bedroom community: noise, pollution, wear and tear, degradation of the pedestrian environment, decreased bus speeds, heightened expectations for providing auto capacity, etc.

      I know there is some troller watching this blog that would call me an urban elitist for these words, but is anything I said untrue? If I am an urban elitist, it is only because I have to deal with self-centered suburbanites leeching upon this fare City every day, complaining the whole time about how the City is a draw on their resources.

      We need to deal with these “fairness” policies that have been imposed upon American cities since the birth of the bedroom community right quick. The first should be a quick painful death to the 20-40-40 rule.

      1. You don’t get out of Seattle often enough during the workday. More people leave Seattle on 520 and I-90 than into it in the mornings. Maybe Bellevue and Redmond aren’t just “bedroom communities” anymore.

        You’re attitude is why people outside of Seattle tend to feel so “bruised”.

        I’d be happy to see the silly rule go, but it needs to be replaced with something that is fair and reasonable. Without it you can kiss pro transit votes in Bellevue and Redmond goodbuy.

      2. If more people in fact leave Seattle on the floating bridges than enter it in the morning, then it would certainly make sense to get rid of 20/40/40 so that more reverse-peak service hours could be added – it would mean fewer Seattleites’ cars in Bellevue and Redmond. Also, if more people leave Seattle in the morning, should WSDOT consider the reversing the I-90 Express Lanes?

      3. Also, the 550 has two and half times as much service heading from Bellevue into Seattle in the morning than from Seattle to Bellevue. Other buses either, like the 550, have more service to Seattle in the mornings, or have about the same amount of service in each direction. So more people commute from the Eastside to Seattle. And even if they aren’t “bedroom communities” anymore, that has nothing to do with transit. The fact is that 50,000 Seattle riders will be affected by cuts while under 5000 will on the Eastside. That needs to be evened out.

      4. Maybe I don’t get out of the City that much anymore, but I used to when I worked in downtown Bellevue.

        (Note: my response is not indicating I think Bellevue and Redmond service should be done away with; in fact, I am supportive of Link extending to these high employment places.) I will give you that it appears more people are leaving Seattle to go to Bellevue, but I think it seems that way because the express lanes are against you, so you sit in more traffic. There are indeed many jobs in Bellevue/Redmond, but no where near Seattle (almost 500k in Seattle, 120k in Bellevue). So that response is faulty.

        Sure it’s easy to point your finger at me, but I don’t believe my attitude is the reason for the bruised ego of suburbanites. People have their anti-City bias already in place well before I enter the scene.

        You are correct. I think the spending should be predicated on how a jurisdiction supports reconstructing their town center into their own urban centers. Connecting urban centers, now that is a transit policy I can back.

      5. “It seems to me that the suburban areas owe their existence to the central City as they have little jobs to support their bedroom communities.”

        Most people in King County work outside Seattle. Microsoft, Weyerhaeuser, Costco, Paccar — the list of major non-Seattle employers doesn’t exactly sound like “little jobs to support their bedroom communities,” does it? Not to mention the tens of thousands of smaller employers located outside Seattle.

        The county relies on sales taxes to fund many services disproportionately provided in Seattle — this in effect subsidizes Seattle through taxes on residents who live and work outside the city. Workers who commute to Kent or Auburn pay taxes to fund Metro service, too. And the regressivity of sales taxes tends to shift the tax burden to lower-wage residents. (Don’t forget, Seattle’s per-capita income is 50% higher than in cities like Auburn.)

        Without the taxes pouring in from surrounding cities, Seattle would have to either fund its own transit system by taxing its own citizens more heavily, or dramatically cut subsidized service. Instead, it compromised, preserving its existing subsidy level while agreeing to allow new service to be distributed in a formula that more closely followed the source of funding.

      6. Seattle has roughly half of King County jobs (1.1 M I think). That is a lot to be packed into just one relatively small City.

        1.3% of the 9% sales tax goes to Metro and ST. Like I said before, surburbanites benefit from urban transit because there is more capacity for their car in our City’s roadways.

        0.1% goes to mental health. Probably all in Seattle.

        1.1% is split by all Cities (I assume based on population) and the County for general fund.

        The remainder goes to the State.

        Sooo….tell me again how suburbanites are getting screwed? By the 0.1%? There’s property taxes as well, but my understanding is those funds are super localized as most of it funds schools in the community.

      7. An Auburn resident could just as easily claim that bus service in Auburn makes more streets available for Seattle drivers there — just as easy, just as ridiculous. For the majority of King County residents who do not work in Seattle, what is the benefit to them of using their tax dollars to reduce Seattle congestion?

        Seattle needs votes from the rest of King County to pass the sales taxes that drive transit in Seattle. Seattle has neither the majority of county population nor the majority of county employment — those taxes need the votes of people who do not live in, work in, or frequently drive through Seattle. The easiest way to get them to vote for a new tax is to allow some fraction of the tax to benefit them.

        If you want to use a county-wide tax to fund transit, you need to at least pretend that you’re providing county-wide transit in some rough proportion to the tax base.

        If you don’t want to fund transit outside Seattle, then don’t use transit funds from outside Seattle, and you won’t have to get the votes of people who don’t use Seattle transit.

  3. Y’know, excuse me for pointing this out, but…for months I’ve been reading here about the evil 20-40-40 rule and how it was hurting Seattleites. And now I learn that at the present time the ratio is actually 60-20-20?

    Just sayin’….

    1. What Matt says. Right now, the existing service is 62-21-17, give or take. That’s where service hours actually are today. That’s misleading, because some of that 62 number includes commuter buses that get people living in east and south king into north king.

      The percentages of existing service are the formula by which service cuts happen. The 20-40-40 rule is the formula by which service additions happen.

      So let’s say we need to cut 10 hours of service. 6 are cut from Seattle, and 2 each from the eastside and south king. Then as tax revenue increases again, Seattle gets 2 of those hours back, the eastside and south king each get 4. Because Seattle routes tend to be more productive, this would make Metro less productive overall.

      1. I’d disagree that the 62% figure is “misleading”. True commuter buses, which travel only in the peak direction, are charged entirely to the originating subarea. Reverse peak commute buses like the 217 are charged entirely to Seattle. All-day two-way service (106, 150, 255, 271) is split 50/50.

        Having ridden on some pretty crowded reverse-peak 150s, I think that’s a simple and reasonable rule.

      2. Yeah, I didn’t realize that it was only for buses with reverse peak capacity.

      3. None of this accounting complication would be needed if service were simply allocated by ridership, or a rational set of criteria.

        You can’t allocate County transit funding based on how much each area pays in taxes or how many people live in each part of the County–that’s like the right-wing complaints against the National Endowment for the Arts in the 90s that most of its money goes to urban areas. NEA money goes to the cities because that’s where most of the art happens. Transit money goes disproportionately to cities because that’s where it’s most needed and efficient. Farm subsidies go disproportionately to rural areas because that’s where the farms are.

        This is all part of being a community, or society. We can’t bean-count and spend the same amount and get the same amounts of services for each item the government collects and spends money for. Didn’t some black guy from Chicago say we’re all our brothers’ keepers?

  4. I think the “suspension” idea will get more and more traction, as well… Many folks started out lobbying for that rather than directly attacking 20/40/40.

    I am personally aware that both County Council member Larry Phillips and City Council member Nick Licata support the idea, but I imagine others are on board with the concept. The Mayor’s letter certainly suggests so.

    Much as I’d like to be rid of 20/40/40, I think this issue — with the impending service cuts in February — should be of greater concern to transit enthusiasts.

  5. I admit I haven’t done the math, but my gut tells me that the last few public votes for transit tax increases in King County were passed only because of Seattle voters. In other words, take away the City of Seattle vote, what would the results have been? Failure, I believe.

    A little ironic, seems to me, for suburbanites to be fussing so much over wanting more bus service while also voting against providing it! And what’s Seattle voters’ reward for voting for more transit? Why it’s seeing most of their tax increase going to pay for more lightly-loaded buses in the ‘burbs.

    1. It may be that Seattle is necessary to obtain a majority, but it’s wrong to imply that these measures could pass without suburban votes. If we need suburban votes — and we do — we’d better give them a reason to vote yes.

  6. Every other public service provided by local government goes to where the need is, not to where the tax dollars happen to come from. Imagine if police and fire services were distributed in this manner!

    1. Not exactly. Seattle has its own police, firefighters, and library system and the suburbs didn’t want in for just these sorts of reasons.

  7. One thing I’ve never understood is why new bus hours seem to be allocated assuming they’re all cost and no revenue. Farebox recovery isn’t much in general, but it’s also not zero — and if I remember right, it’s something like 60-80% for the most cost-efficient routes through the day, meaning it’s probably over 100% at peak times.

    It seems like it 20/40/40 might be more acceptable if it were more explicit about allocating new subsidy rather than just new hours. That is, suppose Metro would look at net hourly cost for a given route rather the gross hourly cost for a bus. Then every subarea has an incentive to allocate new hours to cost-effective routes — if the 245 is a really good use of the Eastside’s money, say, the Eastside might put more runs on the 245 rather than add new, empty, routes where there’s no density and hence no cost-efficiency.

    1. This sounds good but I’m having a hard time following. If I’m reading it right it goes back to revenue generation and routes that are paying back should be the ones that get preference. Further, each subarea should have to apply this criteria.

  8. Sounds good to me. As an analogy, a morbidly obese person is gong on a diet, and some undernourished people are receiving more food.

  9. I am uncertain why its being split up regionally instead of by cutting service on routes or runs that are regularly under filled. It makes sense to me that Metro would decrease service on buses that aren’t filling up, while maintaining service on the buses which do. Its easy to assume that buses serving Seattle (whether commuter or local), would be more full than buses in less dense suburbs. (I’m sure thats not always the case.) But it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me to subtract or return routes based on Region unless there is an external motivation above serving the users of the system.

    The only way that I see this plan making sense is if the Seattle-based routes are in fact generating less ridership than the suburbs. While this could be the case, my understanding of Metro doesn’t support that claim. (I’m a seattlite and a commuter and have been since for over a decade)

    It kind of seems like a political move, almost as if they see that Seattle is already paying as much as they can and the board is looking to the outlying cities and communities to bolster their coffers.

    either way it doesn’t bode well.

    1. Jeff — ridership isn’t as important as it might be, since riders don’t pay the cost of the system.

      If farebox recovery paid for the service, then allocating service in proportion to ridership could make political sense.

      Subsidize Seattle service too much with county-wide taxes, and the rest of the county will start looking for alternatives. That dissatisfaction drove the Kent unrest more than a decade ago, and there was legislative traction then for allowing underserved cities to opt out of Metro.

      1. At this point I’m all for letting the suburban cities and Seattle each go their own way for transit. However money from the city of Seattle shouldn’t pay for even one hour of suburban service. Furthermore new revenue sources should be authorized by the legislature so Seattle can increase in-city service to meet demand.

      2. I think that makes sense. Metro morphed from a Seattle transit agency into a county wide system because there was nobody else that could take up the slack and Seattle needed a way to get workers from the suburbs to jobs downtown. Now we have Sound Transit to cover the regional transportation issue. Local service can either be a separate agency or cities could opt to contract service from ST or Seattle or anyone else, public or private.

      3. Citizens of Seattle are also citizens of King County. Seattleites get to vote for County Council members etc just like anybody else. If Seattle wants to collect municipal taxes, as I suggest below, that money should not go to King County.

      4. Well that was sort of my point … have the 0.9% sales tax from Seattle that currently goes to Metro go to fund Seattle-only transit. Furthermore try to get additional revenue sources approved as Seattle’s taxes don’t currently cover the cost of Seattle services (though how much of this is due to bloated overhead is unknown). I have no doubt the citizens of Seattle would gladly approve more taxes for transit, especially if they knew all of the money was going to serve Seattle only.

        Basically the idea is to end the pissing match between Seattle and the rest of King County over transit.

      5. ST is going to have to merge with Metro and the other county systems in its area. So I think that would be a step backwards. Light rail’s 55% fare recovery ratio will be needed to balance out 22% ratios on buses. In DC the rail system has around an 80% fare recovery ratio, and the buses around 30%. Overall it’s about 55%. One service subsidizes another effectively, and I think we’re going to need that here too as ST takes Metro’s most profitable bus routes and replaces them with rail.

      6. I kind of doubt that will happen, the trend seems much more for the outlying areas to bitch about their taxes being used to fund things in the center city. If that includes letting Duvall, Carnation, North Bend, Maple Valley, and Enumclaw run their own transit so their tax money isn’t “stolen” then so be it.

      7. ST isn’t going to merge with Metro. I’m pretty sure it would be illegal. ST has made public assurances regarding bond repayment. I’m pretty sure the creditors would have something to say about a merger that would lead to a default on those bonds.

        Duvall, Carnation, North Bend and Enumclaw all run their own police departments. Why can’t they run or contract for public transit. Ellensburg runs it’s own transit servcie (one route and it’s free) I guess Pullman now runs it’s own transit service. Lots of small cities manage and with so many options to contract this out I don’t see why it would be a problem. Each community could decide what, if any, level of service to provide.

        I think it would result in a fare structure that is closer to actual cost. It would take into consideration time and ridership rather than a somewhat arbitrary zone system. Of course if you ride from one city to another then want to use that cities public transport you’ll have to pay for it but that’s only fare. You can’t take the train to Portland and expect you’re Metro pass to be valid.

      8. There are so many factors that point to the need for a single regional transit agency. I’m sure it’d take changes to state law, but eventually it’ll have to happen. ST wants to shed its bus routes, and when you couple that with Metro’s most profitable routes being replaced by light rail, you have ST requiring fairly small subsidies and Metro running the least efficient routes AND facing spiraling diesel costs. Bus fares would be double-triple train fare. It won’t be soon, and it won’t be easy, but it has to happen. The region also would greatly benefit from a regional government with teeth; communities should only get light or commuter rail stations with TOD contingencies like Portland and Vancouver. Essentially much of ST and PSRC need merging.

      9. One service subsidizes another effectively, and I think we’re going to need that here too as ST takes Metro’s most profitable bus routes and replaces them with rail.

        Trains aren’t really subsidizing buses (both lose money) and the combined fare recovery doesn’t really matter. Trains are high in capital costs (loan payments, that’s ST’s purpose) and buses are high in operating costs (labor). Link will reduce metros overall operating expenses by pulling buses out of service. None of the routes being replace are profitable (all require subside) but they are plentiful which is what’s important in reducing the cost. The fact that the remaining buses have a lower fare recovery ratio looks bad but the bottom line is Metro has to spend less overall on bus service and therefore has a lower operating budget. The under performing routes are a liability that exists with or without Link. Further, ST is paying Metro to operate Link so there’s no need for a merger in order for Metro to access ST’s “pot of gold”.

        The real problem is rural areas demanding service hours in proportion to population or tax revenue. Link Transit (Wenatchee) is a good example of what it takes to provide rural service. They manage about a 5% fare recovery. So, to be equitable Metro should provide about one quarter of the operating hours per sales tax dollar in rural areas that they do in city. That’s hard to do politically. I think it would be a much easier sell to tell communities outside of Seattle they can keep every nickel of sales tax revenue and spend it (or not) how they see fit and let Metro revert back to Seattle Transit.

  10. I am in full agreement that a more equitable solution has to be found. Seattle already has many overloaded routes (3,4,15 and 18 for example). How is the money allocated where the fixed rail trolleys are concerned? What is the cost per rider for fixed rail trolleys vs rubber tired trolleys? With more fixed rail trolleys on the horizon I wonder about the cost to Metro and it’s ridership.

  11. Well, it seems pretty obvious that Seattle needs to take an LID path to locally controlled and owned streetcars and electric trolley buses.

    Turn this thing around- point out to Seattleites that the county bus service will always spend more on long county routes- and that this is fixed as a ratio, so improving Seattle bus routes is self-defeating. Building a new streetcar line, however, with entirely Seattle funding, means the chance to really increase capacity without taking a hit from the funding ratio at the county level.

    The bus will always be a money-losing option to reach under-served communities which can’t pay the full costs of the service. This simply goes with the territory. Extend the LINK and we’ll want to add bus routes to reach out for more riders. If the bus has any reason to exist, this is it. But it will always be expensive.

    1. Catowner,

      That’s not really accurate. SDOT eventually passes off the streetcar to Metro to operate, and that comes out of Seattle service hours. The SLUT basically will be “paid” for by severely curtailing the 42.

      So you aren’t really breaking out of the 20/40/40 trap.

  12. 40/40/20 is an awful policy. I hate it.

    But here’s the question I keep asking and have never gotten a response to:
    King County holds a goal of increasing Metro’s fare recovery rate from 22% to 25%. It also mandates that new service be allocated with this arbitrary, political 40/40/20 formula. How can those two be reconciled? I don’t think they can. Doing both is schizophrenic. EITHER you allocate service by demand which increases the fare recovery rate, OR you allocate service with a political formula which ignores demand and lowers the fare recovery rate. It seems totally impossible to do both, and the County really needs to make up its mind.

    (How many riders from North Bend does it take to get the same farebox recovery rate as a bus in urban Seattle? They have fewer people and many more diesel-guzzling miles. As best I can tell, Metro has no real plan for responding to high fuel prices of even $5/gallon.)

      1. That won’t work at all. Fares here are already high, and they’re inherently regressive, hitting the people who most need transit the hardest. Raising fares to cover $5+ a gallon fuel would kill ridership.

    1. How many riders from North Bend does it take to get the same farebox recovery rate as a bus in urban Seattle? They have fewer people and many more diesel-guzzling miles.

      They’re mostly highway miles instead of two block stop and go driving. And since demand is low something based on the Sprinter chassis or E-350 would suffice. The problem is you’ve got one driver and the trip takes a long time. The fuel isn’t where the recovery ratio suffers. That’s why increases to the Van Pool program make more sense for areas like this. The van pool supposedly has a 60% cost recovery ratio. The other killer with running regularly scheduled routes out to places like North Bend is then everything within a 1/4 mile of that service has to provide Access support; yep, public cabulance from North Bend to Pill Hill. I know van pools only serve commuters so perhaps DART service can be expanded in a lot of the areas which have low ridership. Both of these allocate funds to an area that aren’t accounted for by the 40/20/20 ratio.

      1. For what it is worth for as long as I can remember there has been all-day 6 day-a-week bus service along I-90 to Preston, Snoqualmie, and North Bend. Sure this service may have been extremely infrequent outside of peak hours but it has always been there.

        Furthermore I’m not sure the peak-hour buses to downtown from North Bend are all that empty. There more than one or two trips each direction which indicates to me there is at least some ridership.

        While it is the less-dense areas that are getting much of the expensive to provide service, some of the service to outlying areas has been in place a fairly long time.

      2. Metro used to go all the way up to Snoqualmie Pass. Lift ops and such would use it to commute from North Bend. I looked recently to see if it could be used for a mtn bike trip but it looks like North Bend is the end of the line now-a-days. To bad since they’ve closed the railroad tunnel on the Iron Horse trail. It’s a fairly long reroute to get over to Denny Creek Road.

        I think it was Sunday service to North Bend that was so abysmal in fare recovery that it actually got cut. I remember the headlines but not how long ago that was or the specifics.

      3. Frankly the urban growth boundary goes too far outside downtown. Issaquah and Sammamish should be enough. And we should be spending more up front to run trains without conductors. They cost more up front, but since most transit operating costs are labor (80% in Montreal and DC), you recover it and start making profits sooner. You can lower fares or build more new lines. SkyTrain makes a profit this way. Paris’ 14 line and Toronto’s Scarborough RT use the same technology. I’m sure it’d take federal funds, but they should be available for this, and we should be doing it.

      4. I believe under GMA incorporated cities are pretty much allowed to set whatever density they want within their boundaries no matter where the urban growth boundary is set to.

        As for running unmanned trains, that can only be done with 100% grade separation, also joint operation with buses in the transit tunnel or on the D2 roadway would not be possible.

      5. What’s the D2 roadway? I’m familiar with the E3 – 5th Ave S busway. Where does the D2 run? Are there any other letter/number roadways?

      6. D2 is the I-90 direct access ramps from the South end of the DSTT and Airport way to about the I-90 overpass of Rainier Avenue.

      7. There’s now express service, route 215, from North Bend and Snoqualmie in addition to the local route. It’s pretty popular with Snoqualmie Ridge folks.

  13. Ever been to a meeting of the King County Transit Advisory Committee? There’s one member from each Council district, one of whom openly admitted in her introduction at a meeting that she doesn’t ride transit.

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