Federal Way officials review impact of Metro service cuts

Several Metro bus routes will be cut or reduced in Federal Way, following the failure of Proposition 1.  - File photo
Several Metro bus routes will be cut or reduced in Federal Way, following the failure of Proposition 1.
— image credit: File photo

The failure of Proposition 1, the ballot measure that was aimed at funding King County Metro and addressing road infrastructure needs throughout the county, will be felt in Federal Way, according to the city’s senior traffic engineer Rick Perez.

“Overall, which routes are affected?” Perez asked during the Federal Way City Council’s May 6 meeting. “First off, I’ll say the ones that aren’t affected. Rapid Ride Line A is not affected. Route 183 is not affected. This does not affect Pierce Transit; they’ve already had their cuts, which were about double what Metro is looking at. Sound Transit is not affected.”

Perez then listed the Metro routes that will either be discontinued or have their service altered, with these changes being carried out in four phases, beginning in September of this year and extending until September of 2015. The routes that will be discontinued in Federal Way are 152, 153, 178, 179, 190, 192, and the 901. The routes that will be revised and/or consolidated include the 177, 181, 182, 187, 193, 197 and the 903.

The first route to be cut during the first phase this September will be Route 152, which “serves our potential annexation area along 272nd,” said Perez. February 2015 will be the phase that has a significant impact on Federal Way, he noted.

“With the next phase of cuts in February 2015, this is where you’re seeing a big change in the number of runs being cut. Some of that is some of this route consolidation that’s occurring, particularly with the commuter runs,” he said. “So the big impacts, as I described earlier, the 901. The diversion of the 187 to 312th, combined with the 197, which goes from the Twin Lakes Park and Ride up to the University of Washington, will now originate at the Transit Center instead of the Twin Lakes Park and Ride, so that’s a big reduction in service on 320th there.”

Perez noted that there are “quite a few” impacts overall to Federal Way regarding these changes. The loss of coverage in parts of the city also means the area for the Access program, which helps disabled residents get places, is also reduced.

Route 901 had a Dial-A-Ride service associated with it, which covered a large area, and the changes mean the city and its residents will feel a “significant loss.”

A number of the commuter routes that were either eliminated or consolidated, will mean that riders will have to make a transfer while traveling from one end of town to the other, instead of being able to take one single route, Perez noted.

“One of the other issues is losing direct Express service from three Park and Rides (Twin Lakes, Redondo Heights and South Federal Way),” he said. “They haven’t been heavily utilized Park and Rides before, they will likely be extremely lightly utilized after these cuts take place, and that will put more pressure on the Park and Rides that do have significant Express service, particularly the Federal Way Transit Center.”

The city also anticipates the 320th Park and Ride and the Star Lake Park and Ride will begin seeing more usage because of the anticipated changes.

Mayor Jim Ferrell questioned the changes to Routes 177, which will now likely be the main commuter route for Federal Way residents to travel to downtown Seattle.

“When we say revised, what does that mean for the 177,” Ferrell asked.

“The 177 is going to get more trips to account for the fact that the other express service is going away,” Perez said. “That’s why it’s not as big of a hit as it otherwise would be, but it will be slower because of the loss of other Express routes at the other Park and Rides. It won’t be Express direct from the 320th Park and Ride to downtown Seattle, it will also stop at the Star Lake Park and Ride and Kent-Des Moines Park and Ride. It will be a little bit of a slower trip because of that.”

Councilmember Susan Honda asked if there are any plans to help expand parking capacity at the Park and Rides that are expected to see increased use. Perez replied it’s unlikely that any help would be forthcoming from Metro, but that it would “behoove (the city) to continue our conversation with Metro … to see what we can do about reaching agreements with adjacent businesses to handle some of the overflow.”

The situation regarding Metro’s future funding is still fluid in the wake of Proposition 1’s defeat, with both King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray bringing new ideas to the table last week. Constantine proposed the creation of “Community Mobility Contracts” that would allow county cities, either alone or together, to “purchase” bus service, with the funding to be provided by the cities in whatever way they see fit.

Murray essentially repackaged Proposition 1, but proposed to keep it to the city limits of Seattle, where Prop 1 had its greatest support in the April vote. Part of the plan would be to have Seattle share some of its funding with regional cities as well.

“This is Seattle stepping up as a regional partner, not Seattle going it alone,” Murray said in a report by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

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