The Regional Transit Task Force’s final recommendations have been released. The report is chock full of interesting graphs about Metro’s performance.
Recommendation 1: Metro should create and adopt a new set of performance measures by service type, and report at least annually on the agency’s performance on these measures. The performance measures should incorporate reporting on the key system design factors, and should include comparisons with Metro’s peer transit agencies.
Recommendation 2: King County and Metro management must control all of the agency’s operating expenses to provide a cost structure that is sustainable over time. Cost-control strategies should include continued implementation of the 2009 performance audit findings, exploration of alternative service delivery models [read: contracting service out], and potential reduction of overhead and internal service charges.
Recommendation 3: The policy guidance for making service reduction and service growth decisions should be based on the following priorities:
1) Emphasize productivity due to its linkage to economic development, land use, financial sustainability, and environmental sustainability
2) Ensure social equity
3) Provide geographic value throughout the county.
Recommendation 4: Create clear and transparent guidelines to be used for making service allocation decisions, based upon the recommended policy direction.
More after the jump.
Recommendation 5: Use the following principles to provide direction for the development of service guidelines. [see below]
Recommendation 6: King County, Metro, and a broad coalition of community and business interests should pursue state legislation to create additional revenue sources that would provide a long-term, more sustainable base of revenue support for transit services. To build support for that work, it is essential that King County adopt and implement the task force recommendations, including use of the service guidelines and performance measures, and continue eff orts to reduce Metro’s operating costs.
Recommendation 7: Metro staff should use the task force recommendations and discussions as the framework for revising Metro’s current mission statement, and creating a vision statement (as one does not now exist). Both draft statements should be included in the draft Comprehensive and Strategic Plans scheduled to be submitted to the County Council in February 2011.
Recommendation 3 is the one that essentially replaces 20/40/40 (and 62/21/17 for cuts) with something less rigidly balanced. The service reduction methodology that Metro used in the exercise, sure to be refined if the recommendations are adopted, is summarized as
- The first step was to screen for productivity, eliminating the least productive routes.
- The second step was to assess network considerations after the first step. Routes (and service hours) were added back based on consideration of social equity, system connectivity, and addressing gaps in geographic coverage.
- Since the second step added back service hours, the third step was to identify opportunities for efficiencies in the system (for example, shortening a route if the beginning or end of the service had low ridership, or using local service to connect riders to ST Express bus service).
A more transparent process should make it easier to refute squeaky-wheel public comments that preserve unproductive service better allocated elsewhere. There was a similar exercise for service additions, one that would encourage cities to make good land-use decisions, and again sure to be refined later:
- Response to Ridership Demand. The sample guidelines for responding to high ridership established thresholds for passenger loads for each type of service. For example, for commuter or hourly service, if the number of seats fi lled and the number of standees exceeded the threshold, then action would be taken. Actions could include adding trips to the schedule, working with jurisdictions to improve transit speed and reliability, or reallocating service from less productive routes.
- Support for Regional Growth. For service that supports regional growth, Metro presented conceptual guidelines that would create a point system to determine minimum levels of service for corridors and communities. Metro would set the minimum frequency of service for a route based on the number of points scored. (See Appendix 8 for the illustrative guidelines presented to the task force.)
Remarkably, a diverse group of participants achieved consensus on these recommendations. It’s now up to the King County Council and Executive to approve and implement them.