Today, Metro released an updated service cuts proposal in very rough draft form, in response to unexpectedly strong economic growth which brought about a modest uptick in sales tax revenue.  The updated proposal cuts 50,000 fewer annual hours, heading off 1.4% of the previously estimated 17% cuts. During a briefing which Metro provided to the Transportation, Economy, and Environment Committee of the King County Council, Councilmember Rod Dembowski aptly said of the new proposal: “instead of a Category 5 hurricane, we’ve got a Category 4-and-a-half hurricane.”

That seems about right.  A 15.7% cut is a lot of pain.  Route-level details are below the jump.

Of the 74 routes entirely deleted in the original proposal, only two very minor routes would be restored: Route 113, a peak-hour express route connecting Shorewood and White Center to downtown, and Route 908, a one-bus DART route with limited midday service in Renton Highlands.  The major restructures proposed for Seattle, North King County, and the Eastside would remain entirely in place, including the devastating cuts in service to places like High Point, Ravenna, and North Bend.

Nearly all of the restored hours would be devoted to two goals: 1) restoring trips to routes that are already overcrowded but were facing cuts anyway under the previous proposal; and 2) mitigating slightly the harsh night service reductions in the previous proposal.  In most cases, the proposal is not specific enough to identify the exact trips that would be restored or increased.  But it’s good enough to divide the changed routes into certain categories which may be useful to riders trying to figure out how they are affected.

Category 1: Routes previously proposed for deletion that are now fully restored

113, 908

Category 2: All-day routes previously slated for cuts that would no longer be cut at all

RapidRide C, D, E Lines
41, 43, 44, 49, 105, 120, 131, 132, 150, 164, 180, 245, 346, 348, 917

Category 3: All-day routes undergoing major changes that would have more service than under the previous proposal

26X, 28X, 50, 70, 73, 106, 128, 235

Category 4: All-day routes slated for cuts that would still be cut, but not quite as badly

3, 13, 16, 168, 181, 372

Category 5: Peak-hour routes previously slated for cuts that would no longer be cut at all

55, 119X (downtown trips only), 123, 252, 257

Category 6: Peak-hour routes slated for cuts that would still be cut, but not quite as badly

21X, 56X, 157, 177, 212, 342, 355

Unchanged from previous proposal: Routes that are still deleted entirely

4, 5X, 7X, 19, 21 (local), 22, 25, 26 (local), 27, 28 (local), 30, 31, 37, 47, 48X, 57, 61, 62, 66, 67, 68, 72, 82, 83, 84, 99, 110, 139, 152, 154, 158, 159, 161, 167, 173, 178, 179, 190, 192, 200, 201, 202, 203, 205, 209, 210, 211, 213, 215, 217, 237, 238, 242, 243, 244, 250, 260, 265, 277, 280, 304, 306, 308, 901, 909, 910, 913, 916, 919, 927, 930, 935

Routes with cuts or changes unchanged from the previous proposal

SLU Streetcar, 1, 2, 5 (local), 7 (local), 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 24, 29, 36, 40, 60, 64, 65, 71, 75 (?), 107, 111, 114, 116, 118, 118X, 119 (local), 121, 122, 124, 125, 143, 148, 156, 182, 186, 187, 193, 197, 204, 208, 214, 221, 226, 232, 234, 236, 240, 241, 248, 249, 255, 269, 271, 311, 331, 903, 907, 914, 915, 931

There is one strange anomaly in the new list.  Routes 75 and 312 now appear to be slated for cuts or changes, while those two routes were left intact in the original proposal.  I emailed Metro to ask what happened, and will update this post when I receive a response. (UPDATE: Metro spokesperson Rochelle Ogershok explained both anomalies to me by email.  Metro still plans no cuts for the 75, but added it to the “Revised” list because some trips will no longer be through-routed with the disappearing Route 31.  Metro now plans to add one trip in each direction to Route 312, in order to partly make up for deleted Route 306.)

These new proposals also contain some items that I found noteworthy and/or surprising:

  • Midday service on the 131 and 132 would no longer be reduced to hourly, after the long effort to make it half-hourly.
  • Much of Metro’s busiest night service, particularly RapidRide and routes 41, 43, 44, 49, and 120, would avoid cuts.
  • Routes 3, 5, and 40 would still suffer midday frequency reductions despite all being very busy at midday.
  • South King County comes out particularly well, better than either Seattle or the Eastside, from the new proposal

Metro has promised to put a full ordinance detailing these cuts before the King County Council only if Proposition 1 fails.  I am very hopeful that we’ll never see the ordinance, and I really don’t want to write a post about it.

95 Replies to “It’s Still A Category 4-and-a-Half Hurricane”

    1. Joe I think you know from our posts that while while STB wholeheartedly supports Metro and ST’s mission we aren’t afraid of giving both agencies some tough love.

    2. Joe…I’m one of those frustrated voters tired of hearing “if we vote for this, don’t let this happen again.” Without real reform, the cyclical approach to ask the voters for more funding will continue.

      I voted “NO!” …and am proud of my decision. The blurb above supports my decision. KCM’s proposed cuts are to the most popular routes. ….yet the discovery of funds to reduce cuts by 1.4%, and restoring very minor routes, supports my point.

      I’m tired of hearing the boy cry wolf. It’s time for the boy (KCM) to be ignored.

      1. CharlotteRoyal, I don’t think you actually read the article.

        Nearly all of the restored hours would be devoted to two goals: 1) restoring trips to routes that are already overcrowded but were facing cuts anyway under the previous proposal; and 2) mitigating slightly the harsh night service reductions in the previous proposal.

        In other words, the bulk of the hours are restoring badly needed service.

        Even the two “minor” restorations help reinforce the point. The 113 acts as an overflow valve for the badly overcrowded 120. The 908 is very cheap, and is essential coverage service for a number of disadvantaged riders.

      2. Re: “discovery of funds”: These funds were not “discovered” but were an increase in tax revenue over the budgeted expectation. It’s a difference between having your wages cut from $12 an hour to $10.50 an hour rather than $10.45 an hour.

      3. Metro didn’t “discover the funds” in an unused drawer. Sales tax receipts fluctuate with the economy. The 17% was always an estimate of what people would spend in retail stores in the future (which is what sales-tax revenue mostly is). Of course it’s going to end up slightly higher or lower than estimated. That’s not crying wolf, it’s just the nature of sales-tax fluctuations. Making up the full 17% this way would require a vast improvement in the economy, which is not very likely. That’s the reason for Prop 1. But you already voted anyway.

      4. Thank you Mike, well put.

        I have a strong suspicion NO will win the day next week. Sadly the consequences for transit will be deep. ST3 will have to wait for a bus rescue package and hopefully real reforms to transit. Other transit agencies in this state – such as Island Transit – had better count on nothing or scraps for a long while. Whatever transit rescue package out of Olympia will come with enough strings attached to give the enviro lobby that screamed “hostage situation” and stampeded for Prop 1 a head-shake, a groan and hopefully a sense that there are no other viable options.

      5. The problem with using sales tax receipts for transit funding is that the revenue source is so volatile that the 50,000 hours that are here today could be gone tomorrow. In observations of the cuts in pierce county, it seems like when people really need transit our systems are in a series of declines (funny thing is that this usually happens when the price of fuel goes up which makes transportation even more expensive and difficult for some). The real fix to this is to stop relying on the sales tax for funding transit, and switch the revenue source to something like a Property tax, which will have fluxuations of its own but wont be nearly as volatile on a day-to-day month-to-month basis.

      6. @Charlotte: A 15% cut has to include some cuts on major routes because that’s where the hours are. That said, it would look different trip-by-trip than route-by-route. Many restored trips on “minor” routes maintain popular peak-hour services that head off overcrowding.

      7. AvgeekJoe from Skagit County says:
        Sadly the consequences for transit will be deep.

        Could be for roads too, especially with the federal highway trust fund troubles that could start to hit in August. People won’t notice it at first though, unlike the transit cuts.

      8. “ST3 will have to wait for a bus rescue package”

        Not necessarily. ST3 would be a major contribution to our transit spines, which many people feel is the missing piece in the network. If ST3 does succeed and Metro gets no further help, the result would be shifting service toward ST’s regional routes. That’s what has been happening in Snohomish and Pierce Counties. The 512 is the only transit in south Snohomish County on Sundays. So you can do your Lynnwood-Seattle trips but forget about Lynnwood-Edmonds or Edmonds-Mill Creek. Metro will probably not get that bad, but it could get to the point that more people are driving to Sound Transit or walking 1-2 miles to a SoundTransit stop because Metro doesn’t have the frequency or coverage it used to.

      9. Mike great points, but I feel a failure 6 days from now will mean the regional political lobby will lean more towards restoring Metro (and hopefully other counties’) bus service than ST3. The problem is real simple: The road bullies want to squeeze the Puget Sound area from Bellingham to Olympia to pay for their roads in Podunksville or Yakima or wherever while giving us transit users scraps.

        Prop 1 is a must-pass.

  1. I do have to say that I’m really struggling with this vote. I am a huge transit user and this will affect my commute but would the state step up? would this help to force the changes to occur more rapidly to get routes more efficient? With all the building that are going up with no parking – will those who live there become a potent transit voting block? I’m inclined to vote yes but there is more nuance than I first thought…

    1. Lets say the state did step up in 6 months… There is a provision that allows the taxes to be rolled back.

      The problem with trying to use this as a vehicle to bring about change and create efficiencies is that it causes a whole lot of pain to not cause much solution. This would cost people jobs (which hurts economic growth here), this would make traffic worse, this would make the transit system less user friendly, this would reduce ridership (causing it to be that much harder to get funding as less people use it).

      Plus you also have to remember, there are a lot of problems that make raising efficiency hard. Our roads and neighborhoods are not set up to be transit friendly. We have almost no bus dedicated lanes, our lights will not stay green longer to allow buses to pass, and many neighborhoods are very low density (meaning a lot of stops to pick up few people).

      I wish I had a great answer to make this all better… But this is the best option we have now to prevent the system from hemorrhaging.

    2. but would the state step up?

      What in their past behavior would lead you to expect that? Recall that for the next nine months, at least, “the state” necessarily means Rodney Tom, aka the leader of the “screw urbanites with a rusty pitchfork” caucus.

      1. This. And, honestly, I’m not particularly optimistic about the state legislature we’ll get out of the 2014 elections. A big part of the reason I’m such a vociferous supporter of Prop. 1 is because I think we are stuck with the funding tools we have for at least three years, and Prop. 1 is about the best possible use of those funding tools. There’s not a magic mushroom out there that will suddenly turn into a progressive income tax (or even a MVET).

      2. Passing prop 1 would also create a situation in which any future transportation package would have to substantively earn the King County votes it needs, rather than extort them, thereby making any such future package better (or at least less awful) than it otherwise might have been.

    3. Will the state step up? Yes, I think it will, and here’s why, without using labels or geographic distinctions: There is a faction in the legislature that believes that roads come first and that transit can be used as a carrot to induce a favorable vote on a wide-ranging roads package. Those road packages, most often, involve one portion of the state paying for another portion of the state to have large freeways while the paying area has tolls. That faction has been correct, to date. Voting “yes” on prop 1 removes that lever. King County now gets to say: “Look, we’ve paid for our transit and we’re fixing our local roads ourselves. Now, negotiate properly with us or we’ll use your own tactic against you and simply take no action.”

      If prop 1 fails, the pro-road faction now has an even bigger stick and doesn’t even really need to use the carrot. “Your own voters said no! Massive freeways for everyone, pave everything from Coleman Dock to North Bend! Who’s going to stop us? You want transit funding? Then DANCE, my pretties! *mwhahaha* /rubs hands together.”

      That last part might be a bit hyperbolic.

      1. My fear is transit for other parts of our great state are going to get the short end of the stick, even more so if Prop 1 fails. It was a tenacious, vigorous struggle just to save the Tri-County Connectors for Northwest Washington State.

      2. To be clear, I think your reasoning suggests that the state will step up if we pass Prop. 1, and it won’t step up if we reject Prop. 1, leaving us completely in the lurch.

        I’m not sure I see it. I think passage of Prop. 1 would just allow the anti-tax faction of the legislature to allow the transportation package to die on the vine. We’d have our bus service but paid for by lousy taxes, and they’d have their falling gas tax.

      3. David, you’re exactly right, that is precisely what I think will happen. With Prop 1, we have the so-called whip hand and can turn their tactic around on them. Right now, King County’s delegation has to go, hat-in-hand, to the legislature and basically ride the coattails of a massive road package. One faction of legislators can say “if you want the ability to vote on a pittance of transit funding, you must agree to our road demands.”

        With Prop 1, those same legislators turn it around: “We have the local road and transit funding that our voters approved, now work with us on regional and statewide funding that we can support.”

      4. Avgeek, I think that if Prop 1 fails, transit statewide takes a hit, but it will be less likely to take a hit if the legislature sees that local entities will do what it takes to keep their own services running. The state hasn’t gotten off the mark in years so local areas have to step up however they can. It sucks, is unfair, and is inefficient, but that’s the box in which we have been placed.

        My fondest hope is that King County approves Prop 1 and uses its new leverage to get the state to commit to fair, regional transit funding without massive strings attached. That would be a major departure from what we’re currently seeing.

      5. Bet I can out-hyperbolize anybody here with one simple question: would our effort be best spent fighting our implacable opponents in the capital of our own state, or by using our majority population, greater wealth, and superior intelligence to make them part of the Idaho legislature- assuming anyone there will vote for them?

        I’m not kidding- but let’s hear everybody else’s thoughts.

        Also, couple of points about the fantastic picture. The shape and the forces behind it form a logarithmic spiral, constantly expanding. This is one of Natures prereferred shapes, shared by both seashells and galaxies.

        Also, at least two types of transportation in the world were designed to use hurricane winds to gain speed and save fuel, with excellent design and material, and experienced crewmen.

        One example was the huge German sailingfreighter called the Pamir. The other was the Graf Zeppelin. Both were largely crewed by sailors from craft without engines. Hence used to using wind for fuel.

        Could be we could learn to handle the air currents generated by politics for the same end? Just a hyperbolic question- from same massive geometry that forms hurricanes. The path of a comet is hyperbola as it rounds the sun.

        Mark Dublin

      6. would our effort be best spent fighting our implacable opponents in the capital of our own state, or by using our majority population, greater wealth, and superior intelligence to make them part of the Idaho legislature- assuming anyone there will vote for them?

        Wouldn’t it be easier for King County to just succeed from Washington and join Oregon? We have an income tax, but Amazon would probably thoroughly enjoy not having to deal with the prospects of a sales tax. Municipalities and counties are free to be creative in making assorted taxes (witness the City of Portland’s Ambush Arts Tax).

      7. The state may support roads, but not transit. As much as we would all like to see the state step up with millions of $$$ for transit, I have my doubts that would happen. In fact if it were to happen I would almost say that the money would be better off going to Sound Transit than Metro. Sound Transit, being more regional in nature could than add/expand existing express service on corridors to help offset the metro cuts, and let them re-focus their hours on local service. and Example of this could be where ST takes over the 177, etc. and operates them as route 577 (metro could be the contractor) and than metro can re-allocate those service hours to providing more local service (peak service is expensive to operate as it has a lot of deadhead time). but that’s a pipe dream that I don’t think will happen in our current political environment.

    4. Did the state step up last year? Why not? Because the anti-transit, anti-tax faction had a more votes than the pro-transit faction. The state can’t step up until these votes are overcome. The only positive development is that Sen. Tom is retiring, so we may gain 1 depending on who his replacement is. But that’s still not enough to guarantee a good transporation bill.

      Three bad impacts have already started, no matter which way the vote goes. (1) Metro has had to devote six planning months to a cut scenario rather than addressing underservice and fulfilling Metro’s long-term plan. (2) Residents of car-free apartments are worrying about how they’ll get around and whether they should move. (3) Opposition to car-free apartments is increasing because they’re questioning the guarantee that transit will accompany them.

  2. One thing that doesn’t seem to get much ink (or pixels online) is the unwritten costs of cutting back on routes. Cuts in bus service means that there are a number of bus drivers and other support personnel who will lose their jobs (or their ability to support themselves). I have heard numbers of up to 400 part time drivers losing their jobs… Now lets say that 10% of those drivers don’t come back when funding is eventually restored.

    That is 40 new bus drivers that must be hired… Which means that you have to run at least 2 classes that must be paid for. You are teaching new people to drive a bus (4-5 weeks of class), which requires a number of instructors (1 classroom teacher, 1 drive instructor/3students) who are all supervisors… 2 weeks of assigning a bus driver to mentor and teach the new drivers to drive in service (1 driver to 1 student). And by the time they have gotten out of class, they might know 1-2 routes… Not a whole lot. Learning a new bus route requires 2-3 hours of a student riding a bus to pick up just one new route (40-60$ per route, more if at overtime). That also doesn’t include things such as qualifications on equipment, trolley training, many other classes to improve safety/security of drivers… The thing is, laying off bus drivers is a huge drain of both time and money.

    1. That is a very good point. It also explains why Metro has waited this long before making cutbacks. All businesses work this way. You want to wait until the very last minute before making cuts. Otherwise, it costs you more if and when you recover.

    2. What’s percentage of part-timers eventually become full-timers? What percentage want to?

  3. I also noticed that they switched the proposed 917 fate from being cut down to peak-only to no changes. I don’t ride that route, but still, good on Metro for preserving off-peak service in the system.

    Too bad there’s so much bad energy about this measure. I mean seriously, why is there so much (usually completely unfounded) negativity about every single transit related measure that doesn’t seem to exist on measures that don’t fund transit?

    1. I wrote out a very snarky reply but I deleted it. My opinion is that politicians believe that roads are safe (few ever got voted out for supporting roads) and roads are also expensive undertakings that would be shot down if ever put to a direct vote, so they’re “just taken care of.” Transit, on the other hand still has a stigma and a perception of being a drain on the transportation system instead of being a benefit and complement to it.

  4. “Nearly all of the restored hours would be devoted to two goals: … 2) mitigating slightly the harsh night service reductions in the previous proposal.”

    Oh, hey, the night riders get a tiny sliver of a bone. I see that the Owls are still on the chopping block. The potential loss of those routes would be enough to get me to vote yes on Prop 1, regardless of any other consideration.

  5. Metro has already axed the two routes I care about the most. The service degradations instituted over the last year or so have made bus service unreliable and no longer efficient for our families needs. Meanwhile they boast about adding wifi to the new Rapid Ride buses which are anything but. I just can’t justify supporting the current approach. Our household voted no.

    1. OK, I’m going to sound rude here and I really don’t mean it as a personal attack. I’ve read “I can’t justify the current approach” a number of times but no one has been able to answer this: Why do you think that cutting service will make Metro *improve*? What about any other local transit agency–Pierce, Community, Kitsap, Island–gives you the idea that Metro’s situation will buck the trend? Have you read any of the articles written here that explain *why* Metro missed its promises, namely the bottom falling out of funding and essentially living on borrowed time through emptying every reserve account it has? If you have, do you disagree with their conclusions and, if so, may I ask why?

      And, finally, if you think that Metro has efficiencies that can still be found–which I wholeheartedly agree with–what is your answer to the people who say that those inefficiencies should be preserved at all costs? Look at route 2; it needs to be moved to be more reliable and fast, but the people who rely on that route are able to beat back any attempt to change it. Look at routes 50 and 60 that had time-sinking diversions into the VA hospital parking lot for years and, only after construction demolished (heh) that option, now they have finally been rerouted to be straight. Then, there are the routes that mattered (like through Magnolia and Wedgwood) that got canned because neighbors griped to the political leaders about the buses being “too loud,” even though they were otherwise popular and efficient.

      Not that it matters. You looked in your heart and your pocketbook and said “welp, $3.33/month extra towards my vehicle registration just ain’t worth it.” That’s your right, regardless of how vociferously I might disagree. I really, truly hope that people who think our roads are worth fixing, our buses are worth having, and being able to tell the legislature that the Seattle region’s needs are important and not just to be used as a political football for the rest of the state to get free highways.

    2. What were the two routes that Metro cut that you are so mad about that you are willing to vote to prevent them from ever coming back? Did you ride them?

      1. Metro has been incrementally eliminating runs and stops on so many routes that I cannot in good conscience provide a vote of support for this organization at this time. I use, and have close friends and family that use (or have used) the following routes that have all been whittled away in recent years. Even if you vote yes, Metro will still go back to work in trying to manufacture justification for their removal or continued degradation,

        21 local and 21 Express – voting yes will not restore to levels prior to recent service degradation. Metro wants to abandon this portion of SW Seattle.

        37 – They’ve whittled this down to a few runs only per day. They want to cut this anyway, regardless of the outcome of the vote. Metro slashes runs, and then comes back with data that says that ridership is down, so they propose further cuts. A Yes vote will still see this route on the chopping block.

        56 Express – This highly functional route was switched to using shorty buses and less runs. Voting Yes won’t bring it back to pre-degradation levels.

        Other routes to the Eastside like the 211, 212, and 213. All have been previously degraded, and will be back on the chopping block next year, even if we vote Yes.

        RapidRide – Voting yes will not restore service to pre-RapidRide levels of customer satisfaction. Packing em in tightly, passing stops, and forcing riders to transfer is not an increasing level of service, but is service degradation.

      2. 21 local and 21 Express – voting yes will not restore to levels prior to recent service degradation. Metro wants to abandon this portion of SW Seattle.

        What? Metro doubled service on almost all of the 21 local in the last reorganization, from 30-minute to 15-minute frequency. The 21 Express was left the same. The small part of the 21 where frequency was reduced and service moved to the 22 had essentially no riders.

        37 – They’ve whittled this down to a few runs only per day. They want to cut this anyway, regardless of the outcome of the vote. Metro slashes runs, and then comes back with data that says that ridership is down, so they propose further cuts. A Yes vote will still see this route on the chopping block.

        Ridership on the 37 had been slowly and consistently dropping for years before Metro cut anything. People realized that the 56 was faster and more convenient.

        56 Express – This highly functional route was switched to using shorty buses and less runs. Voting Yes won’t bring it back to pre-degradation levels.

        The local was canceled, but the express remained the same, with the same number of trips. If shorter buses were allocated, that’s because other trips elsewhere in the system had higher ridership and needed the longer buses more. Ridership systemwide has been growing, and many buses all over the system are full to levels where they pass up passengers.

    3. I don’t have kids. I don’t have grandkids. I never will. Guess I’ll vote “no” on all future school levies, since it doesn’t apply to me or mine. (Just kidding).

      So just because they cut your two routes, you want to cause pain to all the other riders whose routes will now also be cut? Or they will be so crowded that we’ll have to stuff ourselves like sardines into the bus, or have a bus or several buses pass us by while we’re waiting to get somewhere?

      And like Brent said, if this doesn’t pass, they won’t be adding service any time soon if ever, so there won’t be a chance of your routes ever coming back. Not to mention ours.

      1. “So just because they cut your two routes, you want to cause pain to all the other riders whose routes will now also be cut?”

        That’s what the Save Route 2 faction is doing. They want the current route 2 and only the route 2, and they don’t want to hear about walking two blocks to Madison or six blocks to Queen Anne Avenue for full-time-frequent routes (!) that could exist if the 2 were consolidated. Some of them testified at the Prop 1 hearing that they were leaning toward voting No unless Metro guaranteed the 2 wouldn’t be modified ever if Prop 1 passes. (Metro didn’t promise.) So it’s all, “My one route, no changes, nothing else matters, and nobody else matters.” What about the future residents of First Hill and Queen Anne who would love to have full-time-frequent routes? What about their neighbors who have been waiting decades for full-time-frequent routes?

      2. +1, Norah. This is a corollary of “I got mine, so FU” so prevalent in today’s political climate.

        I grew up (and still own property) in a part of the city with horrible transit service–NE Seattle. At least 20 years ago Metro eliminated both downtown routes (the old 25 and 41) that served my neighborhood…and they should have been; they were meandering and inefficient If you want to go downtown from the area, you transfer. Somehow, though, the area always votes pro-transit.

        No kids for me either, so BOOOO to school levies! (Also just kidding)

    4. Not to mention the 40% that’s going to go to roads, which you do drive on. So we’re going to live with potholes and bad roads, whether we take the bus or drive, if this doesn’t pass.

      1. on the bright side, the county roads will crumble, turning to dusty bump-n-rides, so any developments in the urban fringe will look towards better infrastructure closer to downtown. Win-Win

  6. As a non-latte shifter, I am delighted Metro has prioritized protecting span of service on 25 more routes. This is not the sort of move Metro would be making if they were trying to scare people into voting Yes.

    I could vote parochially, now, since my 132 is not being scratched, but since I am an actual bus rider, I still have to vote Yes. That, and I still care about the ability of seniors, kids, the disabled people with disabilities, and the poor to get around.

    Even though I will not qualify for it, I want that low-income fare to happen, and see a significant chunk of the ridership convert from habitual cash fumbling to tapping ORCA all the time, and then see that happen with non-low-income riders with the cash surcharge plan waiting in the wings. Want the mass paper transfer fraud to go away? Voting Yes on Prop 1 is the path to get there.

  7. “•Midday service on the 131 and 132 would no longer be reduced to hourly, after the long effort to make it half-hourly.”

    The reason these routes were under the gun was because of the potential loss of the transit mitigation money for Highway 99 construction, which is now not going away until the end of 2015, as best I can sort out. Since that money still goes away at the end of 2015, and traffic congestion will only get worse when the viaduct is decommissioned, the 131, 132, and all the West Seattle routes are not out of the woods yet.

    The 131 used to go through South Park when it and the 132 were each hourly. The decommissioning of the 16 Ave S Bridge caused the 131 to be re-routed to back-track to the 1st Ave Bridge and do an obnoxiously long Figure 8 through South Park. (See route 60’s current map if you want to know how obnoxious that detour was.) The South Park neighborhood was willing to let go of service on the 131 in exchange for half-hourly service on a straightened-out 132. In the process, the 131 ceased milk-running through Georgetown and took over for the old route 23 serving Highland Park.

    I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I’ve seen the half-hourly 131s and 132s being generally fuller than their predecessor hourly milk runs.

    1. Even before the restructure that sent the 131 up to Highland Park, there was a general feeling throughout Metro that the 131 and 132 were the two hourly routes at Metro that most needed a frequency upgrade. The 132 in particular was ridiculous. They were hourly when I drove buses, and I remember driving packed artic 132s up and down Des Moines Way during all hours of the day.

      The restructure kept frequency in South Park the same, but made it much easier to use, and doubled frequency on Des Moines Way, in Georgetown (thanks to the 124 reroute), and along 1st Ave S in Burien. The first post-restructure numbers show ridership more than doubling on the 131 and increasing by about 50% on the 132.

      Imagine that… make transit usable, and people use it!

  8. Another anti-Prop 1 article in Crosscut this morning talking about how Metro’s cuts are basically all made up:

    The problem with the current situation with Prop 1 is that the anti-tax trolls have been driving the discussion in local media and the pro-transit people are on the defensive. Instead of ‘fighting back’, the pro-transit people should be striking first in the future to put the trolls on their heels.

    1. After John Carlson’s endless rants against affirmative action, I’m surprised any campaign would touch him with a 10-foot pole. I don’t think it’s the opponents’ campaign that is convincing anyone to vote No. I think it is the $40-$60 car tab that is making the sell difficult. What the No campaign is doing is mere get-out-the-vote for people who already hate public transit’s existence, and don’t understand that public transit has made their commute more tolerable by packing lots of other commuters into a smaller space. Any of their voter persuasion techniques are probably backfiring on them every time they get caught in lies.

      1. I agree with you Brent, and I think that there needs to be an acceptance at some point that, in order for things like Prop 1 to pass, there needs to be a lot more time spent courting the undecideds who overwhelmingly don’t use transit much or at all and less time spent courting frequent bus riders that will vote Yes no matter what. There has to also be an acceptance due to our transit system’s configuration that you need the majority of people who don’t use transit to support the minority of those who do. Mainly appealing to bus riders in their terms (save our buses, etc.) is not an effective use of time and resources

        I don’t believe that this undecided group needs to be pandered to by passing crappy ballot propositions and they should not be treated condescendingly; there needs to be a better execution of distilling the facts down into easier-to-understand, tangible impacts on everyone’s lives, bus rider or otherwise.

        Think of it this way, although it’s not a direct analogy because we’re dealing with a popular vote here and not an Electoral College: where do presidential campaigns spend most of their time? In the swing states because that’s where the biggest political bang for the buck is.

      2. I have to partially disagree with your campaign strategy. Bus riders have to be reminded to get out and vote, especially given their notoriously low rate of voting. That is done mostly on the street, very efficiently, where we know the riders are. We can’t ignore that part of the campaign.

        I think TRU has done an admirable job on its part, while MKCN has tried to find the persuadables. (I don’t think I am giving away any campaign strategy here.) Phone banking and door-to-door slots are available for whatever you want to do, pretty much whenever. Just get in contact with MKCN or TCC if you haven’t already. Thanks for all you have done and will do!

        We journalists have an air war to conduct. To some extent, it is up to us to debunk the No campaign’s misdirections, but we also have a message to get out: Cutting transit will hurt the most vulnerable among us, including seniors, riders with disabilities, the poor, and kids. Huge cuts to bus service is regressive. For those who don’t ride transit, your self-interest is also to fund the abilitity of others to cram into buses, so they don’t end up ruining your commute by all driving SOVs. The numbers game is FUD and a distraction. The reasons to vote Yes are just that simple.

      3. Brent,

        Fair enough, I agree with making sure the vote gets out is part of the strategy too. It’s just my impression that the demographic I referred to gets less attention than it should.

        I think we’re all in the same boat here; it’s just a matter of having a more effective approach going forward.

        Also, who are TRU and MKCN that you refer to above?

  9. I think Prop 1 would have a greater chance of passing if it had included a fare increase as well. Even as a symbolic political gesture stating we want to raise your taxes but we are making the riders pay more as well.

      1. Would it have been kosher to mention this in the ballot statement, or would it have been rejected for being out of scope? One person I’ve talked to also voted ‘no’ based on this justification. (and that, well, with four vehicles, $160 increase “really adds up”).

      2. The fare increase is happening regardless of the outcome of Proposition 1.

        The awareness that the low-income fare program is probably not moving forward without the passage of Proposition 1 is not wide, as even some writers on this blog are under the mis-impression that it is a done deal. The council has to vote again to implement it. But it needs a funding source before the council can vote to do that. The funding is definitely not coming from the current Metro budget.

  10. It would be much more progressive if the City of the Seattle stepped up to fund metro through parking fees and property taxes. Downtown commercial real estate pays nothing to fund transit service that basically makes that intense of land use possible. I voted yes on Prop 1 of course. Metro needs a 17% *increase* just to keep up with the demand.

    1. Not to get off track here, but downtown is not exempt from sales tax. Indeed, that is where a lot of it is generated. It also generates a big chunk of the city’s parking revenue, while the neighborhood parking programs don’t even provide enough revenue to cover their own administrative costs, much less the cost of maintaining the asphalt. The property tax revenue downtown, I’m pretty sure, is sky high, except for any exempted governmental properties. This is all before calculating the value of all the hundreds of thousands of downtown jobs.

      The downtown area also taxes itself for more intense service, such as “ambassadors” and street cleaners. SLU businesses tax themselves to subsidize the streetcar (which, btw, is on Metro’s reduction list)

      I believe the Downtown Seattle Association was the entity paying for the Ride Free Area (with the check passed through the City of Seattle), and is now paying for the free circulator.

      Downtown also puts up with far more than its share of human services facilities. Indeed, the DSA is probably the most pro-human-services neighborhood association in the whole county.

      The existence of a transit mega-hub has made life a lot better for millions, IMHO. This is not to say we can’t evolve to a better system of a transit artery with capillaries (if we have money to fund such capillaries).

    2. Seattle is funding some runs on a few Metro routes that would otherwise have less evening service or less peak service.

  11. To all the no voters posting here:
    1) Why are you here at a pro-transit web site in the first place? Trolling is the first thing that comes to my mind, but:
    2) If you’re not an anti-transit or anti-tax troll, then what I hear is complaints about route cuts. How will your no vote help improve service?
    3) Voting yes will put the biggest population centers in a better position when it comes to negotiate a statewide transportation bill. Voting no will put us more at the mercy of the rest of the state which doesn’t suffer from our traffic and congestion problems and has prevented us from reducing our congestion and improving mobility for all.

    1. Wholly agree on point 3. If only there were a way to make the rest of the state feel the pain of reduced productivity due to congestion — to tax them on their non-support.

      STB is pro-transit, but it’s also a great source of timely, distilled, and justly-interpreted information.

      Isn’t it almost more important to hear from the ‘no’ side, especially from people who care about transit enough to come to STB for information? STB hears rationales for ‘yes’ all the time. A rationale from a ‘no’ voter who was thoughtful enough to explain means that the ‘yes’ side had a failure in persuasion, in other words, an opportunity to learn.

      1. You make a good point with the last paragraph, but what the ‘no’ voters say is often based on incorrect information as noted by the replies in this thread to no voters.

        To me, this says that we have failed to educate the public on the harm this will cause which allows the anti-people to sow FUD.

      2. The thing about FUD is that it doesn’t fit on a yard sign. The No folks actively lobbied to stop any progressive funding sources for Metro. Now they cry desert lizard tears about the regressive taxes on the ballot (and ignore the proposed low-income fare program whose benefit to low-income residents will far outweigh the costs of these taxes).

      3. MikeG, z7,

        The way to “make the rest of the state feel the pain of reduced productivity due to congestion” is to sucker them into a “local accountability” amendment. The State Constitution identifies K-12 education as the primary responsibility of the State, so that’s off the table, but we could do an initiative which states that taxes raised within a given county must be spent in that county either directly by the county government or on projects benefiting that residents of that county.

        Since most of the stupid goobers in the eastern half and along the southern border of the state are absolutely certain that they are pouring cash into the lazy “Democrat takers” of King and the other Puget Sound counties, they’d vote for it in a flash!

      4. (continuing)

        And so King, Snohomish, Skagit, Whatcom, San Juan and that lone “red contributor” Kittitas counties would suddenly be awash in extra revenues.

        Which brings up the obvious question, “Why is the rest of the state paying for a “county” government for the less than 5000 people in each of Garfield, Wahkiakum, and Columbia counties?”

        Merge Wahkiakum into Pacific (they’re very much the same economically) or back into Cowlitz and at the very least merge Garfield and Columbia; better yet smoosh them both into Asotin. In horse and buggy days there was perhaps reason for this multiplicity of tiny counties, but with modern transportation, they’re just welfare for Republicans officeholders.

      5. Anandakos, I’m barely an R – more independent now that the Rs are giving transit a deaf ear, and I’m with you.

        Enough of this crap.

        I am so sick and tired of Skagitonians having to bail out Island County… just as much as King County is tired of Eastern Washington sucking away local governance for King County while Eastern Washingtonians demand to be left alone.

    2. @Mike
      1) I genuinely agree with 75% of the opinions on this website and enjoy the editorials presented.
      2) I’m pro transit, and did not vote on this due to internal conflict. While I support transit and want to preserve service, I’m concerned that this prop is misguided in its funding mechanism and only perpetuates the cycle of metro coming back to voters every 3 years begging for money and giving an ultimatum to riders to pay up. Just because prop 1 is a plan that will support metro does not mean it is a good one. For instance, back in 2007, Roads and Transit (prop 1) was a poor compromise with a pretty rough funding mechanism which failed. In 2008, it was cleaned up and came back and was much better, and consequently won. The fact that it was an election year helped. It was probably a blessing in disguise that the 2007 version failed.
      3) this statement makes a lot of assumptions that I don’t think are completely true.

      1. In the long run, the number of bus service hours needed will decrease significantly as Link is built out. That, alone, should provide confidence that this is indeed a one-time thing, and that Metro will not need to keep begging for more money every 3 years.

        In the meantime, though, Link north of downtown is still under construction, so we can’t yet re-purpose buses that serve parallel corridors, which means we have to temporarily make due with more service hours than we will need in the future. So instead of making everybody suffer for the next few years until the construction is finished, in the name of concerns about the ideal funding source, let’s maintain the bus service we’ve got in the meantime. When the Link construction ends and bus service hours can be reduced without pain, the tax can be allowed to expire.

  12. To SGG– I ride the 21 local to work every morning in the Pioneer Square area. It will be cut if Proposition 1 doesn’t pass. So I will have to ride an even more crowded RR C or a 21X (if I can get one) and stand up all the way to downtown, which will cause me to have a very sore back and have trouble walking the 7 or so blocks I’ll have to walk. Also will have to get off in the back of the bus on Seneca between 2nd and 3rd, a very steep hill and there’ll be a very high clearance getting off the bus, so I’ll probably hurt my knee which will make my 7-block walk even more enjoyable. I’ll think of you, SGC, while I’m limping to work if this doesn’t pass.

    And no, I don’t have a car. My peripheral vision is lousy and it wouldn’t be safe for anyone if I were to drive.

    SGC, I do feel your pain about the cuts you mention, but as David explained they were done because of low ridership and because Metro was trying to be more cost-effective with their routes. I understand about the Arbor Heights cut on the 21. However, voting No on this proposition certainly won’t cause Metro to restore the cuts, and will only make it even harder for West Seattle people and people all over the Puget Sound area that take the bus, or that are affected by increased traffic on the road if former bus riders are forced to drive.

    (Sorry to insert personal stuff in here, but since you mentioned the personal reasons you were voting no, I just wanted you to know how non-passage of the proposition is going to affect one bus rider. If this gets deleted I will understand!)

    1. If you need to sit down, just ask the operator for assistance. She/he will find you a seat.

      1. I know, but it will make me uncomfortable to do that every single day. Hopefully the proposition will pass, and I won’t have to.

      2. There is always the strategy of catching your bus in the counter-peak direction downstream to where the peak-direction bus always has plenty of seats. For many, that was the only way to get to the Seahawks parade.

        Or catch the non-full 50 and be prepared to stand from SODO Station to wherever your stop is downtown.

        Or vanpooling, if any of your co-workers live in West Seattle.

        I don’t recommend the Cross-Bay Trebuchet, though.

    2. I guess SGG’s reasons really weren’t personal, but for the whole region. I’m kind of sorry I even posted this.

  13. Those are good ideas, Brent, thanks. Hopefully the 21 local won’t be cut though. :)

  14. Transit Dork, in answer to your question above, TRU = Transit Riders Union and MKCN = Move King County Now.

  15. What % of service is provided on Sundays? I think you guys should follow our example up in SnoCo and just cut all Sunday service. You could probably preserve almost all your weekday service and only suffer minor Saturday losses. Closing down bases and eliminating overhead would take care of the “fat” without losing service when important people with white collar 9-5 jobs travel. However, since King County is more concerned with equality and fairness than we are, and because a big part of the ballot measure is for roads maintenance that will not be performed if it fails, I propose that in addition to shutting down the bus network on Sundays (excluding ST) you should also close down the entire local road network to any motorized vehicle on Sundays. Then see how long it takes for a revote… (fyi, that was sarcasm)

  16. If this Prop One doesn’t go through (and I voted against it), I wonder if we shouldn’t be thinking about a more radical restructuring not only of the routes, but of the transit agencies as well.

    To me, Metro is a big overgrown for it’s utility. At one time, it made sense because there was one city, Seattle, and then a bunch of small towns and unincorporated land that had no city government.

    Now that is no longer the case. And we’ve got SoundTransit which does a great job at regional, inter-city, express and long haul services.

    So why is Metro still doing this as well?


    Cut back Metro to a Seattle-only transit agency.
    Make other cities like Kent, Bellevue, come up with their own transit and budget.
    Keep SoundTransit for anything that crosses the exurbian lines or is express or is long haul or rail.
    Limit the length of Metro routes and transfer all BRT routes to ST.

    1. Would you vote for a much larger ST3 to give ST the funds to take over all of that service, as well as new taxes for a “Kent-Auburn-Renton-Federal Way Transit” to take over local service in SKC? If not, your argument is empty posturing.

    2. It makes sense for Metro to serve Seattle, Shoreline, Tukwila, Burien and Sea-Tac; that’s “Seattle”, not just the municipal limits. Eastside service should be reconfigured to center on downtown Bellevue. So far as far southwest and southeast King County, well, why have anything except the CBD expresses and RapidRide? Who rides local routes down there anyway?

  17. I was living under a rock when you posted the detailed restructure for the Kirkland area. It seems maybe no worse but a lot depends on the schedule. Metro really needs to get that connections to the 255 are important. There are so many brain dead connections now. Like from Kirkland TC they start two routes up to Houghton at exactly the same time; one minute after the 255 is scheduled to arrive. Of course the 255 is rarely on time so anyone trying to make that connection usually arrives just to see their bus leaving. And drivers will pull out with empty buses sometimes just as the 255 is parking ahead of them; sometimes a full minute before their scheduled departure. Seems like half the drivers purposefully wait when they see a bus pull up behind them that they know has a lot of people trying to transfer and the other half delight in screwing people over.

    1. I’ve seen this myself and absolutely agree – any bus route – especially a suburban milk run – not worth a few minutes of a planner’s time to plan connections with, is probably not worth the cost of operating to begin with.

      That said, if you are tempted to vote “no” under the delusion that a prop 1 failure will somehow force Metro to realize and remedy this problem, don’t. Prop 1 failing is not going to magically cause Metro to tweak schedules for better connections or to cause 236 drivers to start holding at Kirkland TC for 255 connections. Rather, a prop 1 failure will simply leave the 236 connection as unreliable as ever, but simply force more people to depend on that unreliable connection when the tail of the 255 gets chopped off.

      If anything, a prop 1 failure might leave Metro tempted to make the connection worse so that they can cut the 236 altogether in a few years due to the low ridership resulting from the awful connection.

      1. The 236 just needs to die. And in the proposed reroute it lives on only in number. Unless forced to make changes they just never happen. I’d put up with less service for a couple of years and start with a fresh route map rather than continuing to throw money at zombie routes that drag the whole system down.

  18. Where does the data in the article come from? I’ve compared the November ’13, and April ’14 lists of “deleted / revised / unchanged” routes – and have no idea how you can tell tha there are “all day routes undergoing major changes that would have more service than under the previous proposal”. How does the author have any clue that they would have more service? *Its not included in any of the materials provided on Metro’s website.*

  19. It’s a 2-seat ride to jobsite (U District to Capitol Hill) and takes at least one hour one-way no matter what time of day I start the trip. On weekends, it takes at LEAST 1.3 hours one-way.
    I work very long hours at a job that doesn’t pay well enough for me to ever own an automobile. I ride the bus EVERYWHERE I need to go. Already there are many places I simply cannot go on the weekends. Sometimes I feel imprisoned in the city. On game nights, the crowding is ridiculous in the bus tunnel. I usually stay at jobsite until after 10:30 p.m. so I have a fighting chance at nabbing a seat on the way home.
    I don’t want to think what life would be like doubling the present commute time and still putting in my 10 or more hours a day.
    Overcrowded buses are dirtier and way more unhealthy for riders AND drivers. With the public health situation facing cuts itself, this can make riding many routes a very dangerous adventure during cold/flu season.
    I voted for Prop 1. I would vote for it a thousand times if I could.

    1. replying to my own post, don’t know if I can edit the first one, doesn’t look like –

      re – possibility of 4-hour round trip commutes to/from jobsite if cuts go into effect: The upside (?!) of this is that if I’m strong enough to carry the unfinished projects and a rolling tote full of things to do while I’m waiting or en route – I can make a LOT of stuff. Right now I have six 66-quart plastic tubs of things knitted/crocheted and about 80 percent of that stuff was MADE ON THE BUS! If I had a laptop or tablet, I could run a little hat-making business right from the bus stop – I can easily make a very nice hat in under 2 hours.
      Hmmm…! Of course, making things on the bus assumes I have room to move my arms.

      Apropos of that, I’m wondering if anyone will take into account customer patterns in businesses – I know I’m not the only Seattle resident who buys groceries on the East Side because they still give out plastic carry bags ;-) I’m thinking other folks might quit going to a lot of businesses for shopping or entertainment if they just cannot get “there and back” in a reasonable amount of time (if at all).

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