King County has put some teeth in its messaging about the dire condition of Metro’s budget by releasing a model of how a 17% cutback of service would impact 80% of the routes it serves. Example cuts include the elimination of route 84 between Madison Park and MLK. A public meeting next week will be held to discuss the budget woes, the service cuts and to gather public comment. Details on that and how to provide your feedback on the situation, below.
On the table for King County is the proposed implementation of a new $20 car tab fee called the Congestion Reduction Charge. Without the charge, Metro says service cuts could begin as early as this winter. Seattle Transit Blog has rounded-up its posts on the topic here. If the King County Council doesn’t pass direct implementation of the new fee this summer, it’s likely the proposal will end up on the fall ballot.
Details on the Tuesday, July 12th Seattle meeting are below. You can also provide public testimony via this online form. This King County provided map shows how cuts would play out in the Capitol Hill and Central District area of the city.
Due to the dramatic recession-driven drop in sales tax revenues, Metro Transit is facing a
$60 million annual deficit between revenues and the cost of providing current levels of transit
service. To close this budget shortfall, King County has a choice of cutting 17 percent of transit
service—taking the system back to 1996 service levels—or preserving current service levels by
enacting a $20 congestion reduction charge on vehicles in King County.
The Metropolitan King County Council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee will
host three special evening hearings to hear public testimony on the proposed transit service reduction
and the Metro Transit budget crisis. These meetings are an opportunity for you to learn about the
proposals and weigh in on the future of Metro transit.
The meetings will be held in Kirkland, Seattle and Burien:
Wednesday, July 6, 6:00 p.m.
Kirkland City Council Chambers
123 Fifth Avenue
Tuesday, July 12, 6:00 p.m.
King County Council Chambers
516 Third Avenue, 10th Floor, Seattle
Thursday, July 21, 6:00 p.m.
Burien City Council Chambers
400 S.W. 152nd Street
In the past two years, Metro Transit has transformed its operations to hold off these cuts and wrench every available dollar out of the agency for service, including:- Achieving new scheduling efficiencies;
– Eliminating more than 100 staff positions;
– Deferring planned service expansion;
– Reducing operating reserves, and
– Reducing its capital program.
80 percent. Metro’s employees were also part of the solution: negotiating cost-cutting labor agreements that will reduce Metro’s costs by $17 million per year.
Despite these fare increases, budget reductions, and operational efficiencies, it is not enough to cover the anticipated shortfall and we are now nearly out of tools to save our system. The savings and efficiencies created by Metro over the past few years save approximately $147 million per year, but the drop in sales tax revenues means Metro still faces an operating shortfall of $60 million a year each year from 2012 through 2015.
The State Legislature has authorized a tool that is available to King County to help maintain Metro service at its current level: a temporary $20 Congestion Reduction Charge on vehicle licenses for a two–year period ending in mid-2014. County Executive Constantine has sent that proposal to the County Council as well as two other pieces of legislation:
– An ordinance approving a Congestion Reduction Plan, a prerequisite for Council action on a Congestion Reduction Charge, and
– An ordinance cutting 100,000 hours of Metro bus service effective February 2012 and directing
Metro to plan for reducing bus service by an additional 500,000 service hours in the 2012-2013 budget.
Metro Transit service is critical to the economy of King County, providing approximately 110 million rides annually, taking hundreds of thousands of cars off the road each day, and helping people get to and from some of the largest employment and activity centers in our state. More information about Metro’s financial crisis and the Congestion Reduction Charge is available on the King County website http://www.kingcounty.gov/exec/news/release/2011/June/20Metro.aspx
Metro must take the cuts just like everyone else. They are the models of inneficeincy and obtuseness. Yes, they will argue how efficient their own studies have proven them to be. I however am a self declared genius anc thereby capable of trumping Metro’s mediocre largess.
Let’s face it about Metro – There busses drive around empty, there primary function is to distribute criminals around the city, their drivers are bad and just plain mean.
A 50% reduction in Metro service would improve traffic, improve quality of life, save money, reduce pollution, and reduce crime. Bus riders can adjust their work schedules to meet a very resonable bus schedule with half the runs currently offerred. We don’t need a #7 every few minutes.
Yes, our transit system could be improved. However I ride the 7 daily – sometimes the 14, 9 or 36 – and I rarely get on a bus that doesn’t have standing room only. And if a bus is empty it is mainly because a completely full bus just passed us by.
A lot of us are trying to rely on public transportation for all of our needs – getting to work, seeing family and friends that don’t like in our hood, running errands – and cutbacks in service make this harder. I think Metro needs fewer lines and fewer stops. Ultimately, I would like to see a Seattle-only transportation entity.
As for the comment about buses made for criminals and mean drivers… come on, that’s just silly.
“Let’s face it about Metro – There busses drive around empty, there primary function is to distribute criminals around the city, their drivers are bad and just plain mean.”
I’m not usually the grammar/spelling police, but I am so tickled by your use of there/their I just had to say something. lol.
Have you ever been on a metro bus, Or do you just stay in your suv? Yes lets cut 50% of the runs and see how traffic improves in the morning on the freeways and around town. Regarding the drivers, have you ever driven a 60′ bus with 80 people on board while trying to drive the streets? Every car out there is trying to pass or cut off the bus, i think the drivers do a great job as evidenced by the low accident rate of the drivers per mile driven.
from your post, i dont assume you take the bus much. your comments are offensive.
i take the 8 and the 3, and 4 on occasions – and never have these busses been empty. never.
when i take the bus, it is not so that i can go perform criminal activities. it is because i am not in the mood to bike it or get in my car and then have to pay for parking.
most of the drivers on my route – while not smiling happy people – they are professional if not somewhat kind people who get me where i need to go as best they can (which is pretty effectively).
also – you should remember there are people who can not afford a car and those that have bodies that wont allow them to drive a car (old people and crippled people). these people rely on the bus service to allow them to function in our society.
just because you are anonymous when posting to a blog, you shouldn’t be such a dick.
and tiring to testify again and again and ride on crowded buses often with standing room only. Yes, I had a friend say she saw empty buses in downtown. Well, yes that is where many get off. And yes, the #2 will be more full going downtown in the morning and and more full coming this way in early evening or late afternoon. Full on the #2 is standing room only and during the least busy hours is having a seat to yourself part of the way is the least busy with maybe a few very early or late runs having some empty seats. In order to be useful, buses have to run fairly often and certainly this is a route that averages to be very efficient. (If they want to cut the #2 they could just continue to run it the regular every 15 minutes, since the transition periods from peak to regular hours is clumsy anyway.) I also object to it not running at least to Seattle Center. I may not use it that often now, but it is a very important route to the theater and ballet to lower Queen Anne where parking is terrible and expensive. This is just very wrong. We as tax payers have subsidized the automobile for decades. The highways were and continue to be a major government works project. A one time tab fee is nothing compared to the negative impact that this will have on the entire region. The county council members should just do their job and pass it without the expense of running an election. We all have our most used routes. On the other hand sometimes we need or want to go to less used areas. I pay for an Orca Pass so I don’ have to walk and can get around without paying for parking and driving everywhere.
I’m not usually into the grammar police thing either – but Rainier is a “self declared genius”…. so if anyone should be able to use homophones correctly he should ;-)
We all have personal budgets that we need to live within, OR we end up suffering the consequences. Some of these budget issues have been known and discussed for years, and yet we continued to see what looked like needless expenditures. You and I could see this financial issue coming, why couldn’t our Metro representatives? So, rather than cut a possibly over bloated, upper level group of staff jobs, they cut rider services, and hope this balances their budget. We the riders are their Customers, and we need to be provided services, or your proposed new tax will only support your overhead, and possibly not needed, upper level staff salaries and benefits. Cutting the lowly ( highly appreciated, and respected ) bus driver, and their routes, does not serve this Customer!
It’s cute that you think that this is a ‘one time increase’. It’s even more cute that most folks think that this increase would only last two years, like sneaky ol’ Dow is promising us… Lastly, it’s even more fun to remind folks that car drivers JUST HAD A twenty dollar increase in car tabs not more than three months ago. ENOUGH increasing and taxes, more doing jobs optimizing and cutting bloated salaries. Period.
Well it appears that I suffer from bad grammer, obtuseness (though offensiveness is really in the eye of the offended – minimally skinned type), and terminal case of conservatism.
It is not just bloated Metro budgets that I would rail (meant two ways) against. In business I see inflated operational costs that I fight constantly. The managers and personell in my facilities never cease to increase the cost of the services while cutting back what they can deliver. The company hacks personnel that were actually doing sellable work and adds directors, consultants, clueless IT people. So – I fully understand the issue at Metro. Yet eventually our management team wises up and pushes our management team puts together cost effective solutions for our customers. And we profit.
Metro is absent a profit motive. That is fine, but, we must find a way to assure efficiency and tough decisions about what markets to service. My company serivces a huge array of markets from individuals and small companies to the military and the worlds largest corporations and we do all of them as the service and price leader.
Metro has a long way to go to be considerred anywhere near a leader. And clearly we in Seattle have fought transportation progress for 40 years and are primarily to blame for our broken streets and 1940 bus system. Still – time for Metro to make due. Let’s put some money into the rails instead – and I am already paying my tab tax for that.
And yes I am in my SUV. There is no bus route that could meet my daily commuting needs which are broad and variable. I politely let trucks, busses, and cars cut in. And aside from Metro busses most of the other drivers out there are quite courteous. It has been a long time since I have seen a Metro drive make a simple courteous yield to merging traffic. We all benefit when good drivers work together to move the maximum number of vehicles through pinch points. Metro drivers believe they have primacy and dominance – and they do traffic a disservice with only microscopic momentary gains in time that over the long haul really just slows everyone down.
Public transportation has the right of way in merging. It is the law. This is true for taxis too.
So if you have a right or right of way, is it good to use and abuse it? Ya 19857517 pq39.
If they didn’t assert their legal right of way most drivers would not let the buses back into the flow of traffic. The bus drivers are obeying the laws, most of the others drivers are not and have no clue that cutting in front of a loaded bus is dangerous. Put yourself in the bus drivers position for even 5 minutes and see how you feel.
The numbers were great at last night’s hearing. Of course, the four members (Gossett, Phillips, Ferguson, McDermott) there for the entire session are the ones supporting the $20.00 fee and retaining Metro service. I testified a little bit before 9:30 PM, essentially that it is their chance to take action for all of us. Congestion leads to dirty air, poor health and short tempers.
Carrying the message to outside Seattle is important. Show up at the last one, if you know others who live in some of the other Districts that support transit, contact them and urge them to attend.
Thursday, July 21, 6:00 p.m.
Burien City Council Chambers
400 S.W. 152nd Street