If you haven’t been following the Proposition 1 discussion obsessively, you might not have a firm idea of what the (now inevitable) Metro cuts will look like. David Lawson’s analysis of the Seattle and Eastside cuts are useful references, amended by the recent slight uptick in projected revenue.

South King County’s cuts are equally deep, but are not accompanied by a major restructure and so did not merit the kind of analysis David brought to the other subareas.

Metro’s website about the cuts is here.

[UPDATE: Here’s a document about phasing, where the first 166,000 hours go away this September.]

79 Replies to “A Preview of the Coming Cuts”

  1. When do the cuts start? My bus is getting deleted and I now need to buy a car. But at least I won’t have to pay 40 extra dollars in tabs, amirite????

    1. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of parking, insurance and maintence. If you live within 15 miles of your work, you might consider trying out bicycling. Gets around these traffic jams and you can quit the gym as you’ll be getting your daily exercise as you commute.

      Recycled cycles or Columbia City cycles for a refurbished used bike. Hit up REI for some clothes and lights and you’ll be way ahead of the car cycle.

    2. I ride a motorcycle. Many park garages give motorcycles free or reduced rates. Plus, on-street parking is a breeze.

      1. CharlotteRoyal, you’re like those people on Reddit who can’t understand why others in Seattle gripe about broadband in this city. “I have CondoInternet and it’s awesome; you should just get that and be happy.” Good for you, having a motorcycle, glad you like it. Running off the top of my head, what about the people who:

        – Physically can’t get on a motorcycle;
        – Go places with one or two kids;
        – Are taking a couple of pieces of luggage to/from the airport;
        – Work at a place that doesn’t have showers when it rains or a place to store all the gear for riding a cycle (I have coworkers who ride them; they show up and take off a tank’s worth of gloves, jacket, helmet, etc)?

        Just because you have a motorcycle and it works for you isn’t how we make policy. We need a transportation infrastructure that works for the widest possible swath of people. That doesn’t mean buying motorcycles for everybody.

      2. Djw,

        Are you suggesting that I’m not alive and well? NHTSA and the CDC are all over motorcyclists like white on rice, and it’s been the bain of the AMA and MRF. Apparently, motorcycling is a disease. NHTSA has been painting an increasingly doom and gloom situation for motorcycles as helmet laws are being repealed across the US. It’s debatable whether the repeal helmet laws and fatalities are directly proportional.

        Not to my surprise, I see that some on STB don’t look favorably upon motorcycling as a means of navigating urban areas. Go overseas and you’ll see motorcycles and scooters zipping around cities in Europe, Asia and Australia. San Francisco, the city Seattle strives to become, embraces the motorcycle community. Why can’t Seattle?

        In response to LCRider…are you suggesting that I haul luggage on a bicycle?

    3. Nik, a lot of people here know quite a bit about public transit. Perhaps we could save you from having to buy a new car if you told us what neighborhood you live in what neighborhood you work in. You said your route is being deleted. Maybe one of us can come up with some other public transit option for you.

      1. Borrow one of those extra cars that the ‘NO’ voters have that they were so worried about the MVET bankrupting them.
        Better yet, offer them $20.

        Time to put MORE CARS on the ROAD.

        C’mon people, it’s time to do your part !!

      2. Hello? Nik? Please let us help you. I know you weren’t lying about having to get a car because your route was deleted. So let us help you figure out how you can still take transit to work.

      3. Nik,
        You should get a 1980’s era American-made land yacht. One of the big 3, on a popular chassis.
        That way, it will be out of range for emission’s checks, and parts would be plentiful and cheap.
        Stay off the gas, and consolidate your trips, and you can keep the gas costs down.

        Just be sure you’re on the road when everyone else is (and give yourself extra travel time), and if you can get to the parking spaces first, all the better!

  2. hopefully now when they cut we see scrutiny in how terribly inefficient metro is and how they’ve failed their promises. Privatizing metro or firing the union would make things a lot better

    1. Question, Josh. From your transit driving experience, would you personally rather drive for a public unionized company, or a private non-union one? Meantime, let’s hear from some other people with credentials to make a comparison.

      Especially with a private company without a union, you’ll soon find out that firing you, with or without a reason, is a lot easier than firing a union.

      Mark Dublin

      1. i’d rather work for a private employer over a public one any time, i used to work for the city of seattle and it harmed my career, i have never seen so much stagnation and waste

      1. Pretty ambiguous demand, Kyle. Though the auggh! is a certified classic statement of surprised displeasure at having one’s security blanket stolen by a beagle, or a beagle flying the little-remembered Curtiss Doghouse WWI fighter plane getting shot down by a bright red triplane. (Why they called the real baron Red.)

        And by “state”, do you mean geographic entity or personal condition? Second one,I usually wish I could get out of mine, and doubt anybody else would want in.

        But whatever problems I’ve got with fellow residents of the State of Washington, I can’t think of any other US state with such a low percentage of people I can’t stand.

        Worst current problem with the Seattle area, passive aggression, really only curable by people moving in from New York City, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Chicago, where all the aggression is energetically active.

        So take a leaf from Airman Snoopy: stand up on the wreckage of your Doghouse, shake your fist at the sky, and yell: “Curse You, Red Baron!” You really also could end up with a state to yourself, in both senses.

        Hang in there, Kyle.


      2. what’s ignorant about it? Michigan just not only fired theirs, but made them illegal. If we did that here transit would magically get much better

      3. Josh, first of all the county government cannot ‘fire the union’ and would violate many laws if it tried. Sure maybe the state legislature could make public employee unions illegal but the chances of that happening are zero.

        I think you are engaging in magical thinking if you believe the unions are primarily or even partially responsible for the state of transit in the region.

    2. Can you please give me a specific example of metro being inefficient that can be fixed? I bet you can’t, because Metro has been making itself more efficient non-stop for at least the last half decade.

      1. What legal process would be needed to fire the union? I would think it would require permission from the state.

      2. People who are considering replying to Alex’s question, here’s what I’ve found happens when you start pointing out potential areas of inefficiencies. When you mention sparsely-filled buses during off-peak hours, for example, and suggest adjusting headway to increase per-trip passenger use, you’ll be told adjusting headway scares away customers. When you question why over 2100 employees make over $100,000/year working for King county, you’ll be accuseded of not wanting people to make a living wage. So, you really can’t win with the give-me-examples-of-inefficiencies crowd. Everything you suggest will be shot down. It’s usually an insincere question used by people with their mind already made up that Metro can’t become any more efficient.

      3. Exactly, Sam. And where is the scrutiny of what they actually achieve on their jobs? I don’t know of any. How about the benefits they receive which are normally a lot higher than private sector? How about retirement?

      4. I think it’s lazy to select some arbitrary salary, such as $100k/year and think that it’s too high of a salary. So 2100 employees at the County make over $100000. What does that even mean, when you don’t know what those people do? You do realize that the county employees doctors, lawyers, etc, who make much more than that in the private sector, right? Even if you don’t count those people, if you only look at people’s salaries without looking at their qualifications, you can’t tell whether they are paid too much.

      5. i’d be all for them getting paid well if they did a good job, but unfortunately transit and governance overall here SUCKS, when things suck the people in charge need to be held responsible

      6. Josh, “the people in charge” in this case would be the county executive and the county council. Last time I checked those were all directly elected positions. However voters don’t seem to fire county executives or council members very often. In fact the re-election rate would indicate that most voters feel they are doing a good job.

      7. yeah well, that’s the whole problem. The voters don’t realize that all these people need removal, because they’re not that bright. They don’t rally for proper transit and infrastructure, but 700,000 rally for superbowl and who knows how many did for a nba team. Meanwhile the city is growing fast, transit is sucking more and more, there’s constant gridlock, building a train is taking 20 years for 1 line and metro is trying to extort more money by cutting lines instead of slimming their costs. It all needs a radical overhaul starting at the top, but until it comes from grassroots – the bottom – it won’t happen.

      8. I think you will find these are the “Market Rates” for good employees. To find a person who will take the job seriously, and safely, and work sometimes crazy and ridiculous hours (Split shifts, early starts, non constant schedule) and retain them you have to pay them a fair wage. You can be like First Transit, etc. and pay barely above minimum wage, but you will get what you pay for with increased employee turnover (which means increased training costs as you are always replacing people), an increased accident rate and the non sense that goes around that (lawsuits, increased premiums, etc.), mis-treatment of the equipment (a lot of the vendors don’t treat the equipment well, and often run it into the ground, forcing expensive repair for issues that should have been taken care of long ago when they were still minor). More often than not you see contractors equipment running around with dents and other body damage, whereas PT or CT’s equipment is kept in good overall condition. Metro at least repairs the damage, even if they don’t paint the rest of the vehicle after bondo bob is done.

    3. Um, you do know that Metro is the result of King County buying out the failing Metropolitan Transportation Company and merging it into Seattle Transit, right?

      What exactly makes you think that any private company could make a profit providing city transit services? There are no cities in the world where that happens.

      Or by “privatize Metro” do you mean do what Community Transit has done and hire a school bus company to drive the buses that are still subsidized by the taxpayers of Snohomish County?

      1. And FT only operates the commuter runs (the 400’s, 800’s, and the 500’s that are CT’s responsibility). Community Transit operates all of the local runs.

        I know that CT operates a couple of commuter routes directly, and it’s also possible that FT might operate a run or two on a local route, but by and large, FT is just a contracted service

      2. Actually it was Seattle Transit that was failing. If you want the real story take one of the MEHVA tours and talk to one of the old timers that was around at the time. If it had collapsed all of the retirement benefits it owed would have gone poof. Metropolitan Transportation Company was a private company eking out a small profit running one or two routes on the eastside who was put out of business. Not to say they would have been able to stay afloat anyway.

    4. Private companies have one goal that King county metro does not: MMOONNEEYY!!!! They don’t work for free, and there’s a reason why transit isn’t privatized. It’s a money loser. Argue all you want about unions, but the reality is that the county has taken a number of steps (raising fares (over 100%, restructuring truly useless service, cutting customer service hours, reducing layovers, etc) that you fail to acknowledge.

  3. Does anybody besides me think that the result of an election where 62% of the elegible even didn’t bother to vote should be accepted with any more finality than 55% of 38%, or my calculator says 20.9% seriousness?

    Leading up to my main question: when’s first meeting on the next election, and how, even if good transit loses by the same margin, at least we’ll lose to anything like an electorate.

    Time and place for first meeting? Call it VFE: Voters for an Election.

    Mark Dublin

    1. I agree–it especially angers me when I see comments “The Voters Have Spoken” or “The People Have Spoken”. Come to find out, it’s only 21% of the people.

      1. Aside from that being a photo shopped image….at least in LA, I can split traffic on my motorcycle.

  4. Having these cuts phased in makes operational sense, but I’m sure it will be used by transit foes to say “see, it’s not that bad”.
    And having 18 months to fight over the proposed changes will just mean that neighborhoods with clout will fight off the changes, and those without any will probably lose even more service.

    It’s going to be ugly.

    1. Mark, I honestly don’t believe it’s going to get ugly. This is just round 1. If you think Prop 1 losers are going to lay down, especially the agency itself, then you don’t understand government. Sit back and watch the Ratchet effect do its thing. It may take a year or two to figure out how, but there is no way this agency will allow itself to shrink.

      1. I don’t see how. The state legislature, especially the R’s, won’t do anything–they’ll just say “See, the people of King County voted it down, so why should we help them?” This isn’t like the stadium issue, where people all over the state, including some influential and wealthy people, I’m sure, didn’t want to lose the Mariners so they were able to get the state to pass a funding package.even though it’d lost the popular vote. I doubt there’s going to be anyone big and influential enough to go to bat for this. (Pun sort of intended). I could be wrong and I hope I am, but I doubt it.

      2. Thanks for the only piece of positive news today, Sam. The other night when I was making fun of Northwest Washingtonians trying to make it in the Reggae culture, I looked up “Jamaican ratchet.”

        Interesting weapon. According to Wikipedia, in The Other Kingston Town, a ratchet knife is kind of an artifact: metal designs inlaid in the wood handle, most popular ones made in Germany by the Okapi firm.

        But it’s also a rugged, simple, and deadly switchblade. The user just thumbs a lever and drops his hand, and the blade falls and locks with a meaningful “click.” To a Jamaican, the sound of a ratchet mechanism. And maybe the last sound somebody hears.

        With the dread of blood-borne diseases and the easy access to firearms, I doubt that particular ratchet culture will catch on here. But idea of this area at least developing a West Indian rhythm, that wonderful Scots-Irish accent, and the amazing food could finally bring things around.

        Also, probably a lot of intensive van service transit, with those names like The Screaming Destroyer and Hell’s Own Paratransit. And Central Puget Sound of Doom Express.

        Glad you’re thinking like me about the election. I’m planning on doing exactly what you said, except I’ve been saying it first for a long time. Difference now is that a huge number of people on my side didn’t bother to vote because they thought nobody would be dumb enough for last night’s result now know different.

        So like the song says go on “Walkin’ down de road with a ratchet in your waist, Johnny- and Sam…It gonna be too bad!


    2. I think the county council has lost its leverage to micromanage route changes, and has lost the moral legitimacy to do so, and furthermore they acknowledge this and don’t want to. Saving the 42 was the last gasp of the old ways. First the council vetoed deletion, then it let it pass with a 1-year reprieve. At the same time it went from a 40/40/20 rule and councilmembers earmarking a lot of special services for vocal constituents, to a performance-metric system. The new system allocates a specific percentage of hours to performance-service (ridership-based), and the remainder to coverage-service (geographic-equity based). The metrics say that every year Metro must review the 25% worst-performing routes and consider shifting hours to the 25% best-performing routes or underserved corridors. So Metro has been doing that for two years. And now the council doesn’t have any “easy” service hours to earmark any more. Any changes it makes would severely hurt somebody, who would probably be vocal, and it would contradict the public’s expectations of the outline of the cuts. Expectations that they based their vote on. So I don’t think the council will be able or willing to go through willy-nilly modifying Metro’s recommendation.

      One thing we can push for is the sensible reorganizations recommended by the bulk of STBer’s. Namely, Aleks’ South King County network, and the more basic premise of truncating the 101 and 150 at Rainier Beach. David L’s Seattle network would be harder sell at this moment (because it’s more extensive and in a more complex area), but maybe parts of it. asdf has suggested an all-day northeast Seattle express (expanding the 74), to replace the proposed 65th Street shuttle (71?). And eliminating the detour loops (RR F TIB station and Tukwila Sounder Station). We should recommend those during this decision phase, and show how they would benefit a greater cross-section of riders. But we should do it with respect, and not berate Metro for not doing it already, because there are legitimate arguments on both sides of many of these issues, and Metro is the one who legitimately gets to make the decision on these.

      Of course, Aleks’ network and David L’s network are based on Metro’s current service level, not on the post-cut level. So they would have to be modified to reflect the reduced service hours.

      1. “asdf has suggested an all-day northeast Seattle express (expanding the 74), to replace the proposed 65th Street shuttle (71?)”

        Er, not the 74. I think it would be like the 76 (I-5, 65th P&R, 65th), but to Magnuson Park rather than Wedgwood (that’s the part that would be like the 74).

      2. My suggestion was to re-invest the service hours from the soon-to-be-deleted 66 into all-day service on the 76, rather than more frequency in the 73. The time savings of the 76 over alternative routes would be so massive that even at 30-minute headways, it would still be worth waiting for.

        I would also contend that the difference in 10-minute vs. 8-minute headways on the 73 would not meaningfully impact crowding. Yes, it would entail a reduction of seating capacity between downtown and the U-district. But the 76 would siphon off many of the riders further north, so 73 buses would have more seats available as they approached the U-district to begin with. Meanwhile, considering that the 73 is unreliable and badly bunched, I don’t 10 minute vs. 8 minute headways would have any meaningful affect in crowding levels.

        Exactly what the all-day 76 does past 65th and 35th, I don’t have strong opinions about, but I like your suggestion of having it go to Magnesun Park, like the 30 does, rather than meander through residential streets of Wedgewood.

    3. Also, there are still several things that can happen in the future. The county could come up with a smaller Plan C or Plan D, and just keep proposing them until one passes. That’s how the pot initiative finally won, and many others. Seattle could come up with a plan S. The state could pass a transportation bill. Any of these could happen before the third or fourth round of cuts occurs, and then those could be cancelled or modified.

      Metro did do a wise phasing if the summary is accurate. Start with the least productive and least critical routes, and work up to the most productive and most critical routes. That’s what any responsible transit agency would do. The low-hanging fruit are the ones that many STBers have wanted to annihilate anyway: 25, 61, 158, 159. So they should be in the first round. But others that are really going to screw people over, like the super-overcrowded 73 and 50 and the hourly 65th Street shuttle, should be in a later phase so that maybe a rescue can be in place before then. (Then the 73 and 50 could go through, but with some mitigation service on the side.)

      1. Another thing to consider is that the impact of any cuts in and around the U-district area could be greatly mitigated if we could somehow delay them for 2 more years until U-link opens. That way, we could replace Metro’s proposed restructuring with one that uses Link as the trunk line, rather than an overcrowded and horribly-bunched bus route. At least at present, the Metro documents don’t seem to indicate that they have the money to wait two years, which further underscores the idiocy of this whole thing. I am hoping that between now and then, enough money can be cobbled together to maintain the status quo at least until the opening of U-link.

      2. The Night Owls are in the first round of cuts and that saddens me. They might be the least productive (though when I’ve ridden I see the 84 and 280 at half or more full) but they’re also the _only_ service in their areas for that time.

      3. I’m not positive about this, but it suspect that union contracts require bus drivers to get paid significantly more for night-owl shifts. Perhaps one of the bus drivers on this blog could confirm or deny my suspicion.

  5. I wonder when the specifics of the cuts will be available to the public? How soon will the council ordinances authorizing this be made public?

  6. Wish there was another reply window for Josh. A couple more points occurred to me.

    Last fall, over in Western Sweden, I really did get the chance to talk with a driver on one of Europe’s clean, comfortable, fast, and well-driven privately operated lines.

    Strangely enough, in Socialist-reputed Sweden, very-private Veolia runs the Stockholm subways. Although Veolia has no problem with unions, and probably due to Sweden’s long possession of national health care under all administrations, a lot of union people in the United States wouldn’t mind conditions.

    However, the “Nettbus” driver I spoke with told me that one difference he noticed was that the private operators tended to do things in the name of saving money that made the drivers’ lives harder, without corresponding gain in savings.

    One instance I recall dealt with work schedules. Despite the numbers, a chopped up workweek without adequate breaks or rest result in a driver with worse reflexes and a worse attitude toward passengers- which as any good private businessman, as opposed to a corporate shareholder, understands.

    Really telling argument about cost of union workers is answered by this question: How many interviewees for a private CEO position would stand up, throw out their chests, and say: “And let me sum up my qualifications by defying any other applicant to prove they will work for lower wages than I will!”

    Some reassurance for people despising government service and labor unions: the amount of belligerent sympathy in driver’s waiting-areas all over Metro. Some base-car radios are almost welded onto right-wing stations.

    Proves that there’s nothing like middle age after years of public service and union protection, topped by a good pension, to make people vocally hate the entities that gave them those things. So best anti-union strategy would be to keep as many people as unionized employees in comfortable well-paid jobs.

    Lose that, and all that affection goes away.


    1. It will be interesting to see how operator opinions change when they have to start working on weekends again after years of having enough seniority to pick to not work weekends.

      1. Unless the number of operators changes, with 15% fewer runs, won’t that require a corresponding reduction of hours meaning some operators will no longer be full time, and others may lose their job entirely?

      2. Goodluck: More than likely as I am sure there will be a last hired-first laid off policy. I assume this will affect the part-time work force first. Then there could be the operators who have been full time for a couple years finding themselves in a part-time position suddenly.

        But I wonder how many of those drivers who have “some base-car radios are almost welded onto right-wing stations” will be some of those that all of a sudden have to work on weekends after having weekends off for years. I made a leap in logic that these might be mid to high seniority operators.

      3. That’s what happened at Pierce Transit. A-board operators who had several years of full-time work in ended up on the B-board. A number of the most senior operators will end up retiring instead of taking runs they don’t want. (It was well-known that the number one driver at PT had done the Fort Lewis route for so long he didn’t know anything else. That was one of the first routes to go and he left along with it.)

        Many of the drivers PT was going to lay off quit before the scheduled reductions began and the operator shortage was so severe that the emergency schedule that followed the CNG explosion was made permanent. (There had been rumors that “temporary” drivers hired from Sea-Tac Airport would be used, but the union kiboshed that.)

        Now that PT has more ST work, they have added more positions, but the layoff lists were exhausted and new employees had to be hired and trained, which is added expense.

        It will be a mess.

      1. I’ll be signing the petition for sure. The only quibble I have is that the revenues should be extracted solely from Tim Eyman.

      2. I think Eyman has some unresolved issues that stem from getting ejected from a bus as a rowdy teenager.

    1. For those of you who support Metro Transit you need to hope that if this makes it onto to the November ballot it will be the only referendum or initiative that will be asking for an increase in taxes. As noted before you have other groups along with the Seattle City Council that are talking about ballot issues asking for tax money for parks and pre-school and if those are also on the ballot it just may be too much to ask from the taxpayers.

      And then you have the possibility of several different ballot issues in November concerning the $15 dollar pay rate. The outcome from those could raise prices at restaurants and other businesses that would have to pay the increase in labor costs.

      It could be a ballot that is going to be asking for too much money and some voters may reject them all instead of being selective and voting yes only on those issues that matter to them.

    2. Ex-Republican State Chairman Kirby Wilbur, now working with a conservative group in Washington, D.C., tweeted:

      “Congratulations to King County voters for saying NO to higher taxes. Cut & reform bloated Metro, finance buses not light rail.


      1. Tell me one rail line other than the slut that we pay for. The other side is way out of touch with reality. Yes metro operates central link but they don’t pay for it. Sound transit does. Republicans = dumb

  7. West Seattle is going to take a beating on this one. The bridge will be insufferable. We desperately need a West Seattle subway. Tell me again about LIDs???

  8. The no side always, always, ALWAYS finds a way to twist some information to mislead people into voting no. For example, if metro’s fares are low, they will say that their farebox recovery is too low and they should increase fares instead of asking for more money. If fares are high (like in this case), they will accuse the agency of disproportionately disadvantaging people who can’t afford the high fares.

    Oh, but what about the low income fare that we would have gotten if it passed? Oh, they say that it is a waste of money for metro to have a low income fare because they would lose revenues. (I wish I was joking)

  9. Komo4 reported that metro cuts may come as soon as July with more reductions in evening service. Get ready for many routes with hourly service.

    1. Don’t know how that could happen in July, since that is a middle of a shakeup. It is more likely to happen in late September. Most likely routes are just losing frequencies or time span are the first to see cuts. those that involve a route restructuring will be done later.

      1. Although major changes happen three times a year changes can happen at any time with approval. It is too late probably for June cuts but if they can trim some routes I. July perhaps that will ease the bleeding later.

  10. Until the Washington State legislature, King County or Seattle government figure out what to do to provide the bus service we need, some of us (not all of us) can ride bikes to get places and free up seats on the buses that are still running, and free up space on the roads for those who must drive. Bicycle transportation increases roadway bandwidth without increasing roadway width. Kind of like energy conservation by increasing efficiency — getting more out of the existing capacity.

    Until the Washington State legistlature, King County or Seattle government figure out what to do to provide the bus service we need, some of us can ride bikes to get places and free up seats on the buses that are still running, and free up space on the roads for those who must drive. Bicycle transportation increases roadway bandwidth without increasing roadway width. Kind of like energy conservation by increasing efficiency — getting more out of the existing capacity.

    We are here to help that happen, and to make it safe, attractive and convenient for as many people as possible.West Seattle Bike Connections is here to help that happen for West Seattle, and to make it safe, attractive and convenient for as many people as possible. Cascade Bicycle Club, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, and Washington Bikes are making it possible regionally.

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