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Metro Service Cuts Could Be 17%–State Senate Wants Your Opinion

 Large transit cuts may be coming and they may affect Fremont. Let the  Washington State Senate hear your views at their upcoming Transportation Forum, Monday, October 14th6:00-9:00 pm for presentations and opportunity for public comment **NEW LOCATION** First Presbyterian Church, 1013 8th Avenue, Seattle, WA
More information about these transportation forums can be found on the Fremont Neighborhood Council website. http://fremontneighborhoodcouncil.org/metro-service-cuts-could-be-17-state-senate-wants-your-opinion/ (Was at the King County Courthouse, 10th Floor — 516 3rd Avenue, Seattle, WA)
Find analysis of the problem below, while more information about the forums can be found online at this link.  FNC Board member Kevin McClain writes: “If the 17% cuts are implemented it will absolutely affect Fremont. There are basically two ways that the full cuts will play out if they are implemented:

If the county implements the guidelines in the strategic plan, then we will see something similar to what is described in the plan here: http://your.kingcounty.gov/kcdot/media/MetroTransit/service-guidelines-folio-2013.pdf The routes that stop in Fremont that are not affected under that plan are the 32, the 40, the 44 and the 358. Every other route that stops in Fremont, including express routes, would be affected in some way.

The other option would be to restructure service to remove routes that generally serve the same area. What that might look like has not yet been released, but I would expect significant changes in Fremont.

Metro will be releasing a lot more about the service cuts next month. So we will find out more then.”

 

King County Councilmember Larry Phillips sent the following letter with “an important update about funding for transit and the potential for devastating cuts to Metro Transit service beginning next year.”  

 

Potential upcoming Metro Transit cuts
Should the State Legislature fail to authorize new local options to resolve our ongoing transit funding shortfall, King County will need to begin shrinking Metro Transit service in 2014; Metro may have to eliminate, reduce or revise roughly two-thirds of its bus routes to close the budget gap.
 
How Metro will decide which routes to revise or cut
Metro Transit is analyzing ridership on all routes throughout the system and preparing a proposal for cuts that will be released for public review this November.  Metro Transit is looking at the following goals in determining which routes to keep, revise, or cut:
  • Providing productive service that carries more people per hour;
  • Serving communities that depend heavily on transit; and
  • Distributing service fairly throughout the county.
 
Routes that carry fewer riders or duplicate other routes will be at risk for cuts, reductions, and revisions.  Unfortunately, because the cuts are so deep, even routes that seem relatively full will be subject to reductions.
 
Once Metro releases its proposal in November, there will be an opportunity for public input.  I encourage you to review the proposal after it is released and to share your input with Metro—Metro will be conducting public meetings and accepting written input before submitting a draft plan to the Council for review.  …For more information about Metro’s financial crisis, and initial information about the first round of potential transit cuts, please see this link.
 
The transit funding shortfall
The recession-driven decline in the sales tax revenue that supports public transit has left King County with two choices:  find a sustainable funding source for and Metro Transit to continue service at current levels, or face the reality of cutting up to 17 percent of bus service—600,000 annual service hours—to balance our transit budget.  
 
Cuts to transit of this magnitude would take our transit system back to the size it was in 1996, despite the decade and a half of job and population growth we’ve experienced since then.  These cuts would also send 20,000-30,000 cars back on the road each day and leave hundreds of thousands of riders with less convenient or no travel options.  
 
For many years, I have been working to ensure that our government can provide the level of transportation services that the public needs and expects.  I support transit service and funding for transit to meet demand for the service.
 
What King County has done so far to protect transit service
Over the past four years, Metro Transit has transformed its operations to hold off these cuts and wrench every available dollar for service, including:  making the transit system more productive; achieving new scheduling efficiencies; eliminating more than 100 staff positions; deferring planned service expansion; reducing operating reserves; and reducing its capital program.  In addition, riders are sharing the pain: since 2007, Metro has raised fares four times, an increase of 80 percent.  Metro’s employees were also part of the solution: salary and wage freezes, coupled with cost-of-living raise givebacks and other concessions, have reduced Metro’s labor costs by up to $17 million per year.  The Metropolitan King County Council adopted a temporary $20 per vehicle per year Congestion Reduction Charge for the years 2012-2013, but the authorization by the Legislature for that funding will expire at the end of this year and these funds will no longer be available to fund transit service.   
  
The savings, efficiencies, and temporary revenues created by Metro over the past few years have reduced Metro’s funding shortfall by more than $800 million, but Metro still faces a shortfall of $75 million per year each year through 2015.  
 
King County government gets taxing authority from the State Legislature, so unless the Legislature takes action this year in a special session to pass a statewide transportation package that includes local funding authority, we will face a deficit and cuts to transit service.  I have led efforts to sustain Metro Transit service by working with elected officials and community leaders to secure a sustainable funding source from the Legislature, but with our deadline approaching and no legislative action, we are now forced to start planning for the worst case scenario—a 17% cut to existing transit service.
  
Upcoming opportunity to share your input with state legislators
The Washington State Senate is hosting public forums on transportation, with locations across the state, and is inviting you to come and share your views on transportation needs.  The second of two hearings being held in our region is coming up soon.  The details are as follows:
 
Monday, October 14th
6:00-9:00 pm (presentations; opportunity for public comment)
King County Courthouse, 10th Floor — 516 3rd Avenue, Seattle, WA 
 
More information about these transportation forums can be found online at this link.
 
Also, I invite you to take a short, three-question survey available at this link.  I will be conveying the results of this survey to our state legislators.  
 
My position
I support creating a sustainable funding source for transportation so that we can begin talking about the transit network we need and want to create, not about coping with cuts to service that people rely upon.  We have a stark choice before us—enact a sustainable funding source for Metro Transit or watch our transit system shrink down to the service levels of 17 years ago, despite a huge growth in population and transit use in that time.  With the fragility of King County’s economic recovery, the burden of $4 per gallon gas and the crisis of climate change, preserving our transit system is the most important action we can take for mobility, jobs, and the environment in King County. 
 
Thank you again for your interest in and support of public transit.  I appreciate the opportunity to provide this update.
 
Sincerely,
 
Larry Phillips, Councilmember 
Metropolitan King County Council, District Four 
King County Courthouse 
516 Third Avenue, Room 1200 
Seattle, WA 98104-3272 
206.296.1004 
larry.phillips@kingcounty.gov
 
For more information:  http://www.kingcounty.gov/phillips

 

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