Those of you who commute to work via a King County Metro express bus may find your route gone this morning. Today is the first weekday of Metro’s biannual service change. It is probably the most painful service change Metro has ever undergone.
David Lawson covered the details of how many routes have been savaged due to Metro’s budget hole. The number if routes shut down entirely is unprecedented. A few were due to a restructure of routes in South King County, but most are simply peak commuter routes that were both expensive per trip, and not well-used. Indeed, about half of Metro’s commuter express routes have been mothballed.
The suspended or eliminated peak expresses include routes 5E, 9E, 15E, 17E, 18E, 19, 37, 63, 76, 77, 113, 114, 116, 121, 122, 123, 143, 154, 157, 158, 159, 167, 177, 178, 179, 190, 192, 197, 214, 216, 217, 219, 252, 268, 308, 312, 316, 355, and 630.
New route 162 will provide some limited replacement service for routes 158, 159, and 192.
Other routes being suspended for reasons unrelated to the South King County restructure include 22, 29, 47, 71, 78, 200, 204, 208, 232, 237, 246, 249, 342, 628, and 931.
There are bright spots amidst this carnage, most notably that Link Light Rail (operated by King County Metro operators) is bringing usable frequency back today, and will be following the schedule posted at the stations for the first time since January 3. If you are used to driving to a park&ride in South King County for your commute, Link, with it’s 8-minute peak headway, could be your new ride, and Angle Lake Station or Tukwila International Boulevard Station your new P&R.
Metro’s budget, and therefore its service, is unlikely to improve much until the economy recovers. The economy will not recover until the virus is defeated. If you want a return normality, wear your mask when around other people, and urge everyone else emphatically to do so as well.