by Erica C. Barnett
(This article was originally published by PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
On Thursday, the King County Council shelved a proposal by North Seattle Councilmember Rod Dembowski that would have kept 47,000 hours of bus service inside Dembowski’s district after the Northgate light rail station opens next year. The proposal came in the form of a budget proviso, or restriction on spending, that would have withheld $5.4 million in funding for King County Metro unless the bus service went to North King County.
The hours will become available because King County Metro is shutting down its Route 41 bus line, which duplicates the light rail route. Instead of being redistributed throughout North Seattle to feed commuters to the new light rail line, as Dembowski proposed, those hours are likely to go to South King County, where King County Metro’s preliminary report on equity shows the need is greatest.
Continue reading King County Council Rejects Redundant Bus Line Funding in North End, Citing Equity Needs
by Carolyn Bick
King County Metro bus operator Sam Smith is worried about job security. Already, he said, Metro had to cut 200 part-time driver jobs in August, as a cost-saving measure, due to the economic fallout of the current novel coronavirus pandemic. In September, Metro reduced bus service by 15%. If Proposition 1 — which would continue a portion of public transit funding for the next five years — doesn’t pass, Smith thinks his job is likely on the chopping block. He also worries about the effect a lack of funding will have on the wider public.
“Cuts in transit right now are counter-productive. Routes that run in heavily populated areas such as the A Line, E Line, and the 7 which serves South Seattle are packed at capacity,” Smith said in an emailed statement to the Emerald.
In an effort to prevent these cuts, the Transit Riders Union (TRU) will be holding a Day of Action on Oct. 6, which is meant to frame public transportation as a mutual aid effort and make the case for voters to pass Proposition 1 in November. The TRU will also join national transit riders unions across the country that day in calling for the United States Congress to pass the HEROES Act, which includes $32 billion in emergency transit funds.
Continue reading TRU to Hold Day of Action to Bolster Support for Crucial Public Transit Ballot Measure
by Mark Van Streefkerk
On September 2, King County Metro announced the “Ready When You Are” campaign, which features innovations for transit, including automated plexiglass partitions and mask dispensers to keep operators and riders safer during COVID-19. County leaders, including Executive Dow Constantine and representatives from Metro and the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) local 587, presented the improvements at the Metro Component Supply Center in Tukwila. The transit additions coincide with new and improved bus routes coming September 19, and are in preparation for restoring fares on October 1, although that date is not set in stone.
“I am here to announce that King County Metro is ready to serve,” Constantine said. “Ready to get you where you need to be. Ready when you are, which happens to be the name of our new campaign as we turn the corner and fully adapt to the new normal.”
Continue reading “Ready When You Are” Campaign Unveils Automated Plexiglass Partitions and Mask Dispensers on King County Metro Transit
by Erica C. Barnett
It wasn’t so long ago — just 2018 — that Seattle could be proud of its status as the only city in the nation where transit ridership was actually going up, and the number of people commuting to the center city by car was going down. COVID-19 didn’t just reverse this trend; it obliterated it. Ridership on King County Metro buses is down about 73%, while ridership on Sound Transit’s light rail line has shrunk an estimated 70%. In an attempt to protect drivers from riders who might be COVID-positive, both agencies eliminated fares, and Metro implemented back-door-only boarding, in March. Both agencies also cut service, which has led to overcrowding on popular routes, such as the Route 7, that serve essential workers getting to and from the center city.
Continue reading As Metro Considers Post-COVID-19 Future, Agency Leaders Resist Push for Crackdown on Homeless Riders
By Carolyn Bick
South Seattleites who depend on King County Metro and Sound Transit services to get around may have to adjust their schedules starting on Monday, March 23. The two public transportation systems will be scaling back trips and hours, due to a significant drop in ridership, as a result of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Continue reading King County Metro, Sound Transit to cut trips on almost all transit services
Since its passage, the City of Seattle’s Transportation Benefit District (STBD) has consistently funded transportation improvements across the city, such as more frequent Metro buses, subsidized ORCA cards for income-qualifying residents, and pre-paid ORCA cards for Seattle Public School high schoolers.
Continue reading OPINION: Vote No on I-976
by Mary Hubert
King County Metro has proposed an income-based fare program that would enable King County residents to pay transit cost on a sliding scale.
This plan responds to increasing concern over the escalating costs of metro fares, which currently exceed those of many other major cities. Although Metro recently rolled out its ORCA LIFT program, which allows qualifying participants to pay $1.50 per ride, the growing number of transit users who either cannot afford this rate or otherwise remain unassisted has prompted further strategizing.
Continue reading Income-Based Fare Program Offers Hope, But Some Say Metro Still Needs to Close the Gaps
by Mary Hubert
Susan* is all business as she boards the 7, toting a cart with her that contains most of her belongings and expertly flipping up the front seats on the bus to nestle it securely in an out-of-the-way spot. She rides this route frequently.
Continue reading Some Depend on Generosity of No. 7 Bus Drivers; RapidRide Could Change That