According to Scott Gutierrez of the P-I, Sen. Patty Murray has included a provision in the transportation bill that reverses the Bush-era decision to effectively eliminate special event bus service to the Mariners and Seahawks. It still has to get through a few votes and be signed by the President, but it sounds like more or less a done deal. Press release here.
According to Metro spokeswoman Rochelle Ogershok, a lot depends on when the bill actually becomes law. Since the event organizers (ie, sports teams) must pay the cost of the service beyond farebox recovery, it’s ultimately up to them when such service returns. Nevertheless, she assures me that “the actual process of negotiating a contract for special service can typically be concluded within weeks, once discussions get underway between Metro and the requesting organization.” So it would appear that Seahawks fans are out of luck this year, but there’s reason to be optimistic about the Mariners’ Opening Day.
The bill also includes money for local transit agencies:
Murray also secured $110 million for Sound Transit’s next light rail link to the University of Washington, as well as $3.1 million for the Central Link project. The bill also will include $600,000 to [help] purchase 15 hybrid buses for Metro’s planned RapidRide bus line in West Seattle, as well as $600,000 $360,000* to study the possibility of commuter rail along existing BNSF rail lines from the Auburn Sounder Commuter Rail Station to Maple Valley, Covington and Black Diamond.
The press release also mentions money for the RapidRide A and B lines, not just C.
The News Tribune says there’s also money in there for the Tacoma Intermodal Transit Center, 6 new buses for Pierce Transit, and money to move along Puyallup’s EZRA BRT project. I haven’t run down each of these funding items, but I believe that in general this is not “new” money but the fulfillment of previous FTA commitments that don’t revise the budgets of the respective programs.
Note also that the commuter rail study covers an area outside the Sound Transit district and is not a Sound Transit project. I have a call in to Murray’s office to see who actually gets the money. According to the Senator’s office, the cities of Maple Valley, Covington, and Black Diamond are conducting the study with Maple Valley taking the lead.
* See correction.