About nine months ago, Metro released a draft of its first Long Range Plan in quite some time. We were enthusiastic about the plan, which lays out a comprehensive vision for the Metro of the future, including network, Sound Transit integration, facilities, fleet, and capital improvements. We nerded out over some of the network planning ideas, and spent hours poring over the network maps, which show real imagination and are a revealing distillation of planners’ ideas for improvement throughout the county. More than anything else, we got excited about Metro’s isochrone maps, which show how far you would be able to get from a given point with ST3 and the LRP network in place. They paint a picture of timely car-free mobility throughout the city and even to many suburban areas, one which probably seems like a faraway dream to anyone who spends their afternoons stuck along Denny on the 8 or Dexter on the 62.
The King County Council has been considering the plan ever since, and Councilmembers apparently liked what they saw as much as we did. In its Monday meeting, the full Council adopted the plan unanimously, with only minor changes from the draft Metro released last April. The final documents include some welcome additional information about the assumptions behind the plan, including detailed data on how many residents of each area will be near frequent service; minute-level estimates of travel times between areas; and a breakout of expected cost per service hour for each of the four service types included in the network (RapidRide, frequent, express, and local). Network planning for integration with ST3 reflects some additional work by planners, with a significantly revised post-ST3 network in Magnolia and Ballard, and other smaller network changes throughout the area. We expect to provide additional coverage of Metro’s newest Ballard network vision in another post, as it has some new and interesting concepts we haven’t seen before.
As always, shepherding a mostly abstract, years-away long-range plan through the Council is an easier task than implementing specific service improvements with immediate winners and losers. Nevertheless, adoption of Metro Connects is a very welcome step, and the apparent lack of controversy is an encouraging sign for faster, easier transit service throughout the county that uses the considerable resources we are putting into ST3 as effectively as possible.