Yesterday afternoon, in a heated legislative session that lurched between political grandstanding and fumbled parliamentary maneuvers, the Metropolitan King County Council approved Metro’s June service change proposal with only minor changes. This proposal, billed as “Transit Reinvestments” by Metro, is focused primarily on deleting eleven of Metro’s lowest-performing routes, reducing service levels on a handful of other poor performers, and using the money saved to improve service quality on the rest of the network, and extend service on Route 180 to Burien in the evenings. It is not to be confused with the much broader September restructure associated with the introduction of RapidRide C & D.

No-one who has observed King County transit politics for any length of time will be surprised to learn that of all the proposed cuts and deletions, exactly one of them consumed the entire discussion: the deletion of Route 42. The recent history of this route has been chronicled on this blog, along with its complete redundancy and atrocious performance; it should simply have been deleted as originally planned, as a part of the larger 2009 Link Integration restructure. Better late than never, yesterday afternoon’s spectacle finally sealed the fate of this bus.

The structure of the discussion was somewhat complex, with multiple amendments and confusion over legislative process, but it boiled down to a pro-42 group lead by of Council Members Gosset, McDermott and Ferguson versus a pro-Strategic Plan group of Phillips, Patterson and Lambert. Arguments in favor of the 42 seemed to revolve around the putative indispensability of the bus to those who are currently using it, along with claims that Metro outreach to Southeast Seattle has been insincere, inadequate and of insufficient duration. Advocates for the Strategic Plan stressed that similar routes across the county were being deleted; that to single out one route for preservation that didn’t make the cut would amount to failing at the first test in the process to reform Metro.

Gosset’s support for Route 42 is longstanding, but McDermott and Ferguson both voted this package out of committee less than two weeks ago, and no new information about Route 42 has arisen in the interim, so it’s difficult to regard the speechifying they engaged in as anything other than pandering to an influential part of the Democratic base. Both expressed strong support for the Strategic Plan, while Ferguson himself noted that acting consistently with the strategic plan would require deleting the route. Suburban Council Members noted that they gave up 40-40-20 and made difficult votes in favor of raising car tabs based on the promise of ridership-oriented restructures.

Ultimately, the restructure package was adopted, with the 42’s deletion delayed until the Winter 2013 service change, with a stipulation that Metro conduct intensive outreach int the interim to Route 42’s remaining riders. Once the video of the session from King County TV is posted, I will add a link to it here.

24 Replies to “Council Approves June Service Change in Unpredictable Session”

  1. With the delay until 2013 I think there is time for each Council member to personally meet with every rider of the 42. Twice.

    1. When the meet with Martin, maybe they’ll let him explain why he’s willing to cut his own bus route.

    2. With that delay, there’s time for each Council member to personally meet with every rider of the 42 about 8,000 times, as there’s like three of them.

  2. Humor: According to ARCS, Bellevue is still served by calling Community Transit ;)

    On my one and only trip on The Answer to Life, The Universe, And Everything: the operator and I were joking about passengers getting on at the Island Stop and wondering why the bus makes an immediate left when sure enough, someone boarded.

    The 42’s days need to be numbered. Now.

    1. Oops with the acronym. Darn spell correct (admin: feel free to correct then delete this entry)

      Guess another case for comment editing :)

  3. Bruce, knowing that Metro is starting another round of “open house” outreach for the Fall 2012 changes starting next week, do you have any idea when they’re planning to release the updated version of that plan (the one that “took first-round suggestions into account”) in advance of the outreach events?

    (Basically, when are we going to find out about all-day RapidRide frequency, frequencies on supporting routes that were marked “15-60” in the first draft, and whether or not a certain tenacious young woman from Madrona has berated them into abandoning the necessary First Hill/Central District restructure?)

    1. (Okay, I checked, and she really is from the Central District, just for the sake of accuracy. For some reason I wound up convinced she came from further east.)

    2. I live in Madrona (and ride the 2 frequently and support the restructure), and people here are really upset about the coming changes. Just this morning I saw a former coworker on the bus, and he asked me if I was aware of the changes and offered to send me information so I could get involved. And some folks on Madrona Moms (a Yahoo! group) are rallying the troops to save their one-seat rides to the Seattle Center.

      If the handful of 42 riders can have that big of an impact with Metro, I’m assuming the angry hordes from Madrona will derail the proposed changes.

      I hope Metro can get out and do some community outreach soon.

      1. The 42 needs to go. The few people who’ve ridden on it when I’ve driven it don’t know where the route goes, and are surprised when it turns back at S. Washington rather than continuuing downtown. It is a total waste, and nobody will miss out if its gone.

      2. Justin,

        Were you able to explain to your former coworker why you support the changes? Perhaps even enlist him to spread the word that this is not about disservice or penalizing a neighborhood, but about speeding things up for all riders along the 2’s corridor?

      3. d.p. –
        Our conversation was brief, and I told him that I support the changes and mentioned improved reliability and getting the bus out of the traffic jam on Spring. My wife has been trying to promote the positive aspects of the changes and why they are needed on the Madrona Moms group.

        I just found out that Metro representatives will be attending the Madrona Community Council meeting next Tues evening. The folks opposed to the changes will be out in full force.

  4. I have ridden the 42 a hand full of times, and only because I missed a 7 or a 39at Genesee St…and each an every time I was the ONLY person all the way to downtown…it was a quick ride for sure, but even i get that metro does not equal taxi service…

    1. Same. I used to catch the 42 or the 7 on Rainier Ave coming back from my internship. But it was almost always the 7. IIRC, the 42 was quicker but less frequent. It also operated at an inconvenient time-frame, so if I was a little late I couldn’t catch it anyway. I imagine it isn’t helping south-east Seattle very much.

    2. I rarely rode the old 42 (from Horizon View to downtown), because who’d want to take a half-hourly diesel bus turning on the Dearborn Street wasteland when a more frequent trolleybus was a few blocks away? I much more like the 15-minute 8, and I’d like it even better if the 48’s tail hadn’t been moved to the 8.

  5. I realize this may not be a charitable view, but Metro crippled the 42 when it cut it back so drastically after Link and Rt. 8 service began on MLK. No matter what else is going on, a crippled route is a crippled route. Yes it should have been killed outright.

  6. This is good news that the county approved most of restructure, backtracking on only one route that’s long been special to the council. It echoes last year’s Eastside restructuring which also succeeded. So finally we’re getting some real changes on the ground. I will definitely use the new evening 180 service, and I’ve heard the 41 will get more buses to relieve overcrowding. What about the 71/72/73? Will it get anything in June or will it have to wait till October? Last week, five people were left behind on a northbound 72 at Convention Place, and the following bus had barely enough room for them. Of course, the crowding isn’t as bad summer quarter, so that may sway Metro to wait till October.

  7. “with the 42′s deletion delayed until the Winter 2013 service change”

    Seriously? Yeesh. So they promised that it will survive the massive September restructure? Why? Eight months isn’t enough to consult with the 167 people who use this route?

    1. Perhaps because September’s change is already so large and controversial. The pro-42 lobby may suck out all the air demanding, “Don’t delete the 42 now.” Better to have that discussion not in the October debate. The council isn’t thinking about the cost for four additional months for the 42, which is trivial compared to Metro’s budget. They’re thinking about the ongoing cost year after year. None of the other changes they’re contemplating are temporary.

  8. I still think what they are doing to ROute 2 is going to drive riders away. I also wonder how the layover at Colman Dock will work with two high-frequency bus routes that are supposed to work alternating with each other. If their arrivals get out of sequence or their departure times are different, keeping a predictable headway-based schedule is going to be operationally unrealistic without doing some serious rewiring and signal reconfigurations. I believe all of the end points on the electric trolleybus routes today are unique to each route. Is this really operationally viable?

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