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Bus service: Metro targets overcrowding, efficiency

King County Metro will bring a number of service changes before the King County Council during the Dec. 7 meeting of the Transportation, Economic and Environment Committee.

Metro hopes the changes will ease bus overcrowding, improve the performance of chronically late routes, and reduce inefficient bus service. The changes would take effect in June 2012.

“These proposed changes move us ever closer to achieving a stronger, quality-driven transit system that delivers a bust trip that is comfortable, predictable and brings more service to underserved communities,” said Metro general manager Kevin Desmond.

According to Metro, these changes are “part of a broader policy the council adopted earlier this year to reinvest 100,000 hours of lower-performing bus service to serve riders more efficiently and at a lower cost.” The proposals are guided by the Metro’s Transit Strategic Plan, a plan developed by the independent Regional Transit Task Force earlier this year.

The proposed service changes for June include:

• Eliminate 40,000 service hours from routes that perform less efficiently compared to comparable routes elsewhere in the system

• Reinvest those service hours in more heavily-used routes that are overcrowded or have difficulty staying on schedule

• Reinvest those service hours in underserved corridors that lack adequate bus service levels

This proposal is set to be the first of several service changes over the next two years, all of which are aimed at trimming dead weight from the system and focusing time and energy on the most used parts of the system.

The top priority, according to Metro, is to add seats on nearly a dozen “chronically overcrowded bus routes” where riders are “being left at the curb or must stand for the entire trip.” A few routes that Metro feels meet this condition are Route 73, which serves the University District in Seattle; Route 128, which goes between Southcenter and West Seattle; and Route 218, which serves the Issaquah Highlands.

Metro hopes to address timeliness issues, especially to South King County and East King County. Route 358, which runs from Shoreline to downtown Seattle, can be late up to 40 percent of the time. Part of the service revisions will include extending hours for certain routes, such as Route 180, which runs between SeaTac International Airport and Burien, or a similar route that runs from Burien to Kent.

Along with increasing service, Metro wants to reduce or eliminate 16 routes that are chronically underused. Some routes mentioned are Route 912, between Enumclaw and Covington, and Route 925, between Newcastle and Factoria. Metro notes that these 16 routes that will be scaled back or eliminated also fall in the bottom 25 percent of established performance measures for ridership and passenger miles.

Metro expects the changes will be adopted by the King County Council in January. For more information on this first round of proposed changes, visit metro.kingcounty.gov/have-a-say.

 

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