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Metro will cut bus service hours | South King County has higher demand

While it’s a small chunk of the entire ridership, South King County has some of the highest rates of use within the King County Metro system. Of the 110 million annual boardings on the Metro system,  about 20 percent originate in South King County.  - Courtesy photo
While it’s a small chunk of the entire ridership, South King County has some of the highest rates of use within the King County Metro system. Of the 110 million annual boardings on the Metro system, about 20 percent originate in South King County.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

King County Metro, the bus system that serves Seattle, Federal Way and portions of the greater Puget Sound region, is going to cut 600,000 service hours in the next couple of years.

The 17 percent reduction in total service may begin as soon as next year, or could be held off until 2015, said Victor Obeso, Metro’s manager of service development. The cuts are a result of the continued financial pressures all agencies face in Washington.

“We do face some very significant financial challenges,” Obeso said at the May 17 Federal Way City Council meeting.

Much like Sound Transit, Metro generates revenues from sales tax receipts, with 60 percent of its operating costs covered by those sales tax funds.

Obeso explained during a presentation to the council that Metro is looking at equitable ways to cut service throughout the entire system, with a focus on making sure heavily used lines, such as some routes in Federal Way, remain operating.

Of the 110 million annual boardings on the Metro system, Obeso said about 20 percent originate in South King County.

While it’s a small chunk of the entire ridership, South King County has some of the highest rates of use within the system, Obeso said.

“(There is) significantly higher levels of use, crowding and latent demand (in South King County), compared to the other two areas in the county,” Obeso said. “While there might be fewer numbers (of riders), there is more use.”

In light of that higher use rate, Obeso said the largest portion of the service reductions in the system will come in the greater Seattle metro area, while South King County will be touched the least.

“Fifty-five percent of reductions will come in the Seattle/Shoreline/Lake Forest Park area,” said Obeso. “About 22 percent will occur in South King County, and 23 percent in East King County.”

Here in Federal Way, Obeso said Metro operates seven all-day service corridors. Of the seven corridors within Federal Way, there are four routes that appear to be under-served. Because of that, those highly used routes would be the last to be reduced, said Obeso. Outside of those under-served routes, Obeso indicated changes within Federal Way would be relatively minimal.

“Examples of the sorts of things we would look at within Federal Way is possibly shortening several peak period routes that begin at Twin Lakes and instead begin them at the Federal Way Park and Ride,” he said. “We would also examine if we could reorganize some of the intra-Federal Way services.”

The reorganization of the intra-Federal Way services would be straightforward, Obeso said. If services on one route are reduced, Metro would shift another route over to accommodate for the reduction, he said.

These planned reductions in service are not new for Metro as 200,000 service hours were cut in recent years. Along with that, Metro has been forced to increase fares by 80 percent over the last four years. To keep abreast of the latest changes in fares, routes and schedules, visit www.metro.kingcounty.gov.

 

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