The King County Regional Transit Meeting at Shoreline on July 17 was poorly attended, with most attendees either media or staff. This was a shame, since the proceedings were quite interesting. The primary and possibly most far-reaching announcements directly involved park and ride planning; and a possibility that public input regarding Metro service cuts would essentially not play much of a role.

Park and Ride Planning Coordination

King County transit is pushing to plan park and rides regionally. Multiple agencies, including Metro, and Sound Transit, will conduct a study on access to transit, including park and rides. After the work plan is formulated, a King County executive will transmit it to convene a series of regional conversations.

A worthy question regarding this laudable regional coordination is which group could spearhead such an initiative. There were hints throughout a following conversation that the lead agency could be the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC), as they have ties to Sound Transit already, and often handle multi-jurisdictional efforts.

John Resha, principal legislative analyst for King County, spoke to the council regarding park and ride planning changes. He pointed out that the problem of coordinating park and rides is not meant to be solved solely by Metro, but by the Department of Transportation, individual cities, and more. To that end, the work plan will be sent over by the end of 2013, to all the parties listed above, “to ensure a robust look at it”.

Resha stated five items the work plan will reflect, all of which a new ordinance will also cover:

1: The role of park and rides and transit infrastructure.

2: Shifts and changes in transit technology, or basically best practices for options other than additional parking spaces.

3: Options for regional needs reporting and funding access to transit; regional coordination, in brief. (“Right now we don’t plan as a region for things like park and rides,” Resha said.)

4: Model policy language, so all the jurisdictions are equally represented and in Resha’s words “come from the same place”.

5: Any potential updates to the strategic plan and guidelines.

On page 11 of the RTC packet, the new ordinance is reproduced in full. The committee passed the motion to strike the old and bring in the new ordinance, and also revised the title amendment based on the changes.

Public Input Will Not Save Your Route

Regarding the role of public hearings and Metro cuts, Desmond spoke of the upcoming service cuts in dire tones, laying out the timeline:

Now we have to start real planning for service reductions…that’s inevitable. Timing was very essential for us…so we could go out to the public maybe as early as November and see what our future is… Our earliest reductions would happen as early as September 2014. When we get spring data in July, we’ll have the most up-to-date data to refine deadlines and guidelines. We expect to unveil 600,000 hour reduction sometime in fall.

From there, Metro goes back to the council by April or possibly June of 2014, to implement the reductions. The plan would call for roughly equal increments of service changes in September 2014, February 2015, June 2015, and the final round in September 2015. The normal round of public hearings in accordance with Metro’s service guidelines will occur, but since Metro does have to abide by the service guidelines with regards to the cuts, their scope to respond to public input is limited.

Desmond also spoke regarding possible fare increases to counter the budget cuts:

We’ve assumed a fare increase in January 2015, and already planned it. We’ll have to balance a potential new low income fare program…even if we have a 25 cent fare increase, it’ll yield 10 million dollars…We have a deep structural imbalance.

West Seattle Blog also recorded Desmond mentioning a fare increase in 2014, and I’m working to resolve the discrepancy. But Desmond did note that the sales tax revenue has grown since the last financial report. In fact, given recent sales tax projections, cuts may not be as dire as Desmond foretold.

More items summarized at the meeting were changes to Aurora, RapidRide E, and more, all covered previously.

Other noteworthy changes:

  • A discussion of load metrics; any changes didn’t appear substantive, merely a change of date and requirement for acknowledgment of receipt regarding a report on bus loads and so on.
  • Changes to the long range plan policies, which basically consist of ensuring total coverage of all transit issues over multiple jurisdictions, consistency with the current policies and plans, and use of extant service guidelines as the starting point.
  • Revisions to the amendment regarding Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act – basically an update of the language used therein to match Metro’s complicity with the Act.
  • Updates of Metro’s service guidelines

7 Replies to “July’s King County Regional Transit Meeting”

  1. One point to clarity. Metro’s service guidelines do in fact address service cuts, although not the service level part obviously. See below:

    Priorities for reduction are listed below. Within all of the priorities, Metro ensures that social equity is a primary consideration in any reduction proposal, complying with all state and federal regulations.
    1. Reduce service on routes that are below the 25 percent productivity threshold for a given time period. Routes that are below the 25 percent productivity threshold on both measures are considered for reduction before routes that are below the 25 percent productivity threshold for only one measure in the following order:
    o All-day routes that duplicate or overlap with other routes on corridors on the All- Day and Peak Network.
    o Peak routes failing one or both of the criteria.
    o All-day routes that operate on corridors that are above their target service
    levels, meaning corridors in which the all-day service family assignment (see SG-
    9) is a lower level of service than the corridor currently has.
    o All-day routes that operate on corridors which are at their target service levels.
    This worsens the deficiency between existing service and the All-Day and Peak
    Network service levels.
    2. Restructure service to improve efficiency of service.
    3. Reduce service on routes that are above the 25 percent productivity threshold for a
    given time period. Routes that are between the 25 and 50 percent productivity threshold on both measures are considered for reduction before routes that are above the 50 percent productivity threshold for either measure, in the following order:
    o All-day routes that duplicate or overlap with routes on the All-Day and Peak Network.
    o Peak routes that meet both peak criteria or are above the 25 percent threshold. o All-day routes on corridors that are above their target service levels.
    o All-day routes on corridors which are at their target service levels. This worsens
    the deficiency between existing service and the service levels determined
    through the All-Day and Peak Network analysis.
    4. Reduce services on routes that are below the 25% productivity threshold for a given
    time period on corridors identified as below their target service levels. Routes that are below the 25 percent productivity threshold on both measures are considered for reduction before routes that are below the 25 percent productivity threshold for only one measure. This worsens the deficiency between existing service and the All- Day and Peak Network service levels.
    In many areas of the county, and especially in urbanized areas adjacent to or surrounded by rural land, Metro may provide service in different ways in the future, including with alternatives to fixed-route transit service (Strategy 6.2.3). These services could include fixed-route with deviations or other Dial-a-Ride Transit, or other alternative services that offer mobility similar to the fixed-route service provided. Services such as Community Access Transportation also provide alternatives to fixed-route service by allowing Metro to partner with local agencies or jurisdictions to provide service in a way that meets the needs of the community and is more efficient and cost-effective than fixed-route transit. This approach is consistent with the Strategic Plan for Public Transportation 2011-2021 because it considers a variety of products and services appropriate to the market (Strategy 2.1.1).

    1. Thanks for the clarification! I should have quoted/linked to the guidelines; I got too caught up in the service levels aspect.

  2. SInce it is nearly politically impossible to charge more than a pittance for automobile parking at lots that are already built, perhaps we should be pushing for market-based parking rates at all new lots built by Metro and/or ST, or that parking rates be priced to cover a substantial portion of construction and maintenance costs.

  3. It seems like Priority 2 was being skipped over in the sample cuts Metro has been advertising for months.

    The 101, 150, and 158 were spared in the sample. The 101 continues to get span of service cut on weekends while underperforming on weekday ridership.

    Rather than give riders on the neighborhood portion of the 101 the death of 1000 run cuts, why not invoke Priority 2, create a new version of the 101 that serves Rainier Beach Station, and restore that span of service? Through-route it with the 169, and those heavily apartmented neighborhoods will get a 1-seat ride to Valley View Medical Center and lots of other job opportunities in Renton/Kent, while giving Kent East Hill much quicker access to Rainier Valley. Better span of service means more access to non-latte-shift jobs.

    1. The 101 appears to be getting good loads during peak hours (the schedule shows headways as close as 5 minutes apart). From Skyway to University Street, the 101 trip takes about 25 minutes. Diverting the 101 to RB would require about a 5 minute bus ride from Skyway to Rainier Beach, plus another 1-2 minutes for riders to walk to the train platform and tap-in, a 1-10 minute wait for the next train and then the ~24 minute train trip to downtown. So the 101 rider from Skyway would see their trip times increase by 6-16 minutes.

      With headways as close 5 minutes apart (closer if the 102 is included), the 101 must be performing well on the passenger miles per platform hour measure when compared to other suburb to downtown Seattle routes. But the cost of running so many peak hour one-way buses inflates the overall cost of the 101 and drives down the productivity measures.

    2. It’s something we really have to ask Metro, at what point would it consider truncating the 101 and 150 off-peak. The de facto answer seems to be “never”, but maybe we could at least get Metro to say how sacrosanct these routes are. If they’re not on the first two lists, perhaps they’d be on a hypothetical third list if Metro had to cut further.

      Peak-hour service is a different beast. I’d expect the 101 and 102 to remain if they’re well-used. At most the 102 might be truncated, turning them into 101s.

  4. Thanks for covering this meeting.

    Given what’s happened with Pierce Transit reducing its contraction plans in the face of revenue limits, I smiled when I read above re K.C. Metro, “cuts may not be as dire as Desmond foretold.”

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