Atomic Taco (Flickr)
Atomic Taco (Flickr)

A bit lost in the tornado of Trump and ST3, King County unanimously passed its $11B 2017-2018 budget yesterday. As we wrote about in September, the budget restores Metro’s capital program, provides 300,000 new bus service hours, hires 213 new bus drivers, and prepares Metro to implement the Metro Connects Long Range Plan. The Metro portion of the budget is $1.6B for the 2017-2018 biennium.

The 300,000 service hours will be broken into buckets as follows:

  • 160,000 hours for Metro investment according to Service Guidelines priorities
  • 33,400 hours added to routes for Comfort Station (restroom) access for drivers
  • 39,710 hours available for City of Seattle reinvestment under Proposition 1
  • 68,300 hours ‘to preserve existing bus service levels when buses leave the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel’, which the documents estimate will occur in Fall 2018

Dow’s budget (unusually) included specific route allocations for the non-Prop 1 service hours, and in a welcome departure from past meddling, the Council mostly left them alone. Any increase in service hours greater than 25% would require Council approval by ordinance, but Metro is free to add fewer hours ‘administratively’ as it deems appropriate.

As we wrote about in October 2015, Metro may struggle to actually deploy the budgeted hours. As Council Legislative Analyst Paul Carlson wrote in a memo to Councilmembers:

Transit’s operational capacity to add 323,000 hours of service is affected by several limits.  Prior staff reports discussed how base capacity constrains the addition of buses to about 100, the number identified with the proposed 323,000 hour addition.  Other factors include the risk that trips might be cancelled because vehicles or operators are unavailable; the need to fill 100 operator vacancies and recruit 1,000 trainees to meet attrition and support new service; limits on available fareboxes and ORCA equipment for additional buses; and a backlog of vehicle service preparation that is projected to last through the biennium.

Council-led changes to the budget were mostly additive, and they included:

  • A quadrupling of Alternative Services funding (from $1m to $4m) for service in low density areas
  • A reduction in the required nonprofit match for Human Services Bus Ticket costs, from 20% to 10% (a policy win for the Transit Riders Union)
  • Increased funding for the King County Marine Division, which operates the West Seattle, Vashon, and (soon) Bremerton Water Taxis. Ridership and performance will also now be analyzed like any other route through the Service Guidelines process.
  • A proviso requiring King County to study either eliminating the $5 ORCA card fee, or adding $5 in value to all newly purchased cards. A report to Council will be due in February 2017.

Tables of route investments after the jump…

Additional Bus Service Hours, 2017-2018

Total Spring 17 Fall 17 Spring 18 Fall 18
2016 Crowding-Schedule 31,150 31,150
Other Service Guidelines 128,650 35,000 65,000 28,650
Comfort Station 33,400 17,210 16,190
DSTT/Construction Impacts 68,300 12,300 27,000 29,000
Seattle 39,710 7,360 8,750 16,100 7,500
Revenue-backed 21,570 0 8,697 6,000 6,873
322,780 55,720 80,937 114,100 72,023

Priority 1 – Crowding Needs

Route Description Day Annual Hours Needed
D Line Crown Hill – Ballard – Seattle Center – Seattle CBD Weekday 1,050
5 Shoreline CC – Seattle CBD Weekday 300
14 Mount Baker – Seattle CBD Weekday 250
15EX Blue Ridge – Ballard – Seattle CBD Weekday 400
18EX North Beach – Ballard – Seattle CBD Weekday 350
24 Magnolia – Seattle CBD Weekday 250
101 Renton TC – Seattle CBD Weekday 300
102 Fairwood – Renton TC – Seattle CBD Weekday 450
116EX Fauntleroy Ferry – Seattle CBD Weekday 450
118EX Tahlequah – Vashon Weekday 700
119 Dockton – Vashon Weekday 200
122 Highline CC -Burien TC – Seattle CBD via Des Moines Memorial Dr S Weekday 500
125 Westwood Village – Seattle CBD Weekday 200
128 Southcenter – Westwood Village – Admiral District Weekday 500
132 Burien TC – South Park – Seattle CBD Weekday 350
158 Kent East Hill – Seattle CBD Weekday 550
167 Renton – Newport Hills – University District Weekday 900
177 Federal Way – Seattle CBD Weekday 450
212 Eastgate – Seattle CBD Weekday 700
216 Sammamish – Seattle CBD Weekday 500
219 Redmond – Sammamish – Seattle CBD Weekday 550
252 Kingsgate – Seattle CBD Weekday 400
255 Brickyard – Kirkland TC – Seattle CBD Weekday 750
257 Brickyard – Seattle CBD Weekday 400
268 Redmond – Seattle CBD Weekday 500
271 Issaquah – Bellevue – University District Weekday 400
355EX Shoreline CC – University District – Seattle CBD Weekday 450
Total 12,800

Reliability Needs

Route Description Day Annual Hours Needed
E Line Aurora Village – Seattle CBD Weekday 500
5 Shoreline CC – Seattle CBD Weekday 250
9EX Rainier Beach – Capitol Hill Weekday 300
15EX Blue Ridge – Ballard – Seattle CBD Weekday 250
17EX Sunset Hill – Ballard – Seattle CBD Weekday 250
18EX North Beach – Ballard – Seattle CBD Weekday 250
21EX Arbor Heights – Westwood Village – Seattle CBD Weekday 400
22 Arbor Heights – Westwood Village – Alaska Junction Sunday 50
29 Ballard – Queen Anne – Seattle CBD Weekday 1,000
37 Alaska Junction – Alki – Seattle CBD Weekday 250
41 Lake City – Seattle CBD via Northgate Weekday 250
55 Admiral District – Alaska Junction – Seattle CBD Weekday 300
57 Alaska Junction – Seattle CBD Weekday 250
60 Westwood Village – Georgetown – Capitol Hill Weekday 1,300
83 Seattle CBD – Ravenna Weekday 300
84 Seattle CBD – Madison Park – Madrona Saturday 50
99 International District – Waterfront Weekday 250
101 Renton TC – Seattle CBD Saturday, Sunday 150
102 Fairwood – Renton TC – Seattle CBD Weekday 250
111 Lake Kathleen – Seattle CBD Weekday 300
113 Shorewood – Seattle CBD Weekday 250
114 Renton Highlands – Seattle CBD Weekday 250
119EX Dockton – Seattle CBD via ferry Weekday 250
121 Highline CC –Burien TC – Seattle CBD via First Ave S Weekday 500
122 Highline CC –Burien TC – Seattle CBD via Des Moines Memorial Dr S Weekday 400
123 Burien – Seattle CBD Weekday 250
128 Southcenter – Westwood Village – Admiral District Weekday 300
143 Black Diamond – Renton TC – Seattle CBD Weekday 600
148 Fairwood – Renton TC Weekday 250
150 Kent Station – Southcenter – Seattle CBD Weekday 250
153 Kent Station – Renton TC Weekday 250
157 Lake Meridian – Seattle CBD Weekday 300
158 Kent East Hill – Seattle CBD Weekday 400
159 Timberlane – Seattle CBD Weekday 250
164 Green River CC – Kent Station Weekday 250
168 Maple Valley – Kent Station Saturday 50
177 Federal Way – Seattle CBD Weekday 300
180 Auburn – SeaTac Airport – Burien TC Weekday 400
182 NE Tacoma – Federal Way TC Weekday 250
187 Federal Way TC – Twin Lakes Saturday 50
192 Star Lake – Seattle CBD Weekday 250
193EX Federal Way – First Hill Weekday 500
197 Twin Lakes – University District Weekday 500
217 Issaquah – Eastgate – Seattle CBD Weekday 250
221 Education Hill – Overlake – Eastgate Saturday 50
232 Duvall – Bellevue Weekday 250
244 Kenmore – Overlake Weekday 250
246 Eastgate – Factoria – Bellevue Weekday 250
252 Kingsgate – Seattle CBD Weekday 250
269 Issaquah – Overlake Weekday 250
271 Issaquah – Bellevue – University District Saturday 50
303EX Shoreline – First Hill Weekday 500
304 Richmond Beach – Seattle CBD Weekday 250
308 Horizon View – Seattle CBD Weekday 250
309EX Kenmore – First Hill Weekday 250
312EX Bothell – Seattle CBD Weekday 600
330 Shoreline CC – Lake City Weekday 250
331 Shoreline CC – Kenmore Saturday 50
345 Shoreline CC – Northgate Saturday 50
355EX Shoreline CC – University District – Seattle CBD Weekday 600
Total 18,350

Target Service Levels (Increased Frequency and Span of Service)

Route Description Hours
131 Burien – Seattle CBD 3,900
60 White Center – Capitol Hill 3,100
150 Kent – Seattle CBD 5,100
101 Renton – Seattle CBD 8,400
169 Kent – Renton 14,300
F Line Renton – Burien 3,400
930 Redmond – Totem Lake 1,600
180 Auburn – Burien 8,300
181 Auburn – Federal Way 3,900
183 Federal Way – Kent 7,300
153 Kent – Renton 3,000
269 Issaquah – Overlake 9,000
156 Tukwila – Des Moines 1,800
5 Greenwood – Seattle CBD 1,800
24 Magnolia – Seattle CBD 800
31/32 Fremont – University District 3,100
30/74EX Sand Point – U. District 2,700
373 EX Shoreline – U. District 4,800
345 Shoreline CC – Northgate 2,200
240 Bellevue – Renton 13,000
245 Kirkland – Factoria 3,200
Total 104,700

Construction-Related Service Impacts

Timing Project Added Hours Action
Fall 2017 Convention Place Station (CPS) Interim Access 11,300 County sale of CPS
Fall 2017 CPS construction impacts – Olive Way 1,000 County sale of CPS
Spring 2018 D2 Roadway Closure (East Link I-90) 4,000 ST – East Link
Spring 2018 Alaskan Way Viaduct 23,000 WSDOT
Fall 2018 CPS – end of construction -11,300
Fall 2018 End of joint bus-rail DSTT use 40,300 County policy
Net Total 68,300   

23 Replies to “King County Unanimously Passes $11B Biennial Budget”

  1. So if I read this correctly, Due to the sale of the property by Fall of 2018 CPS will be closed entirely for both passenger service and coach layovers? What does the Interim access mean? What are the plans for laying over during the construction and after the closure as I see the interim hours go away?

    1. End of Joint Ops is in Fall of 2018. After that the DSTT will be rail only. Once that happens ST can interlined a second LR line and go to 3-min headways in the tunnel.

      I was hoping for Spring of 2018, but at least there is a schedule now.

  2. For those among us too lazy to look up the PDFs, could we get a breakdown of what the Service Level increases will do? I assume most of them are just filling in gaps and corners of the schedules — earlier first trips etc — but a couple of suburban routes will get significant boosts (a fact which I trust suburban-equity watchdogs will take note of).

    1. Almost all of the Seattle adds will be done in a few months via Prop 1’s allocation of 39,710 hours. The list published by the County mostly only includes routes that are either suburban or leave the city at some point. (5, E, etc)

      1. I thought the deal with Prop 1 is was they weren’t going to count those funds against Seattle And give more to the suburbs. I hate to be a negative Nancy but I kinda figured that would happen. Well precedent is clear for suburban voters– vote no, then let Seattle tax itself for the suburbs.

      2. Brad – the County’s investing in some of the existing Prop One routes as well. That’s the $39,710 figure: Prop One money replaced by county funds, thus freed up to invest in still more service.

    2. Does that have anything to do with the 40 becoming a RapidRide through Move Seattle? I also noticed that the 44 doesn’t have any additional hours, which is also becoming a RapidRide.

      1. At least for the 44, turning it into a “RapidRide” or “BRT” (or whatever terminology SDOT/Metro concoct) is years off, if it ever happens. You can bet the Wallingford business association is going to fight any loss of the publicly-provided street parking they consider their own tooth and nail. I don’t see any way to make the improvements SDOT proposed for the 44 without displacing basically all the street parking on 45th, or making the street one way for general traffic.

  3. I’d like to get a feel for what these hours mean. Here’s my estimate, but someone else please correct me if I’m wrong.

    1 year ~ 250 weekdays.
    1000 hours = 4 hours / weekday.
    Assume an average route is 1 hour from terminus to terminus.
    4 hours in a day gets 2 round trips.
    So each 1000 hours = 2 extra trips in each direction.
    So if the 373 is getting 4800 hours, that would mean roughly 10 trips are being added each direction? Less if the hours are being used to make existing trips more reliable.

    1. That would be gigantic change, if your estimate is correct. Right now the 373 varies from every 15 minutes to every half hour. With this change, this is what you could would end up with in the evening:

      2:00 PM to 4:30 PM — Every 15 minutes (three additional runs)
      4:30 PM to 6:00 PM — Every 10 minutes (four additional runs)
      6:00 PM to 7:45 PM — Every 15 minutes (four additional runs)*

      * Requires changing a 73 to 373 (or adding service to the 73 instead of 373).

      This is a game changer for me. Suddenly bus trips to Fremont, for example, become a lot closer to driving. Ten minute frequency is very close to not using a schedule. It certainly cuts down dramatically on the transfer penalty. I’m not sure if it is what I would do to this route, let alone the system. I personally would rather put a little more effort into getting 15 minute frequency on the evening routes (the 73) which would be trivial with this change. Basically, with those 10 trips, you could have 15 minutes service (with the 73 or 373) from 2:00 PM to 9:45 PM. Again, this is huge. It means I can hang out in Fremont until after 9:00, and then just take a bus to the U-District without worrying about getting stranded for 20 minutes. If this is typical for the system as a whole, the improvements will be enormous.

    2. If that’s the case, then why the heck is route 83 getting 300 hours? Isn’t that about doubling the number of runs (2 to 4/morning)? The stated reason is “reliability” – what kind of reliability problems could a bus that runs twice a day at 2AM and 3:30AM run into?

  4. Looks like my 181 is (speculatively) getting later Sunday service (last trip now is 8:45 PM), or maybe midnight weekday run. And 183 might be getting Sunday service, or at least a respectable service span on weekdays. This of course happens after I move out of Federal Way.

    I would have liked to see service span on the 903 extended back to 9:45 PM like it was before the 2014 cuts. It’s current last trip (7:15 PM) is in peak service territory.

  5. I don’t see the 312 bus addressed in this. I ride it daily and it is so packed they pass stops and turn people away. While I see other routes to downtown almost empty.

    1. Under reliability needs, I see 312X at 600hr. I’m assuming that 312X = 312, which is the number seen on the bus header. Is that assumption accurate?

      I concur with Jeff – I see crowded 312s even at 125th, almost as if everyone south of 145th knows what the ST3 522 BRT project means.

  6. Be nice if they would also study the possibility of letting the ORCA balance go negative up to the card purchase price, as done on the Compass card in Vancouver.

    1. I wish accounts in good standing could go negative up to a reasonable balance. This would mean that somebody who was waiting for their reload to be downloaded to the card could ride the bus without being stranded or facing a fine. Any card with auto-reload or which had been reloaded online would likely be settled up.

    1. Also the new Kitsap Transit cross Sound ferries are going to be contracted to the Seattle water taxi operators. I imagine that will provide them with some economy of scale and will provide some investment in the docks and other infrastructure.

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