King County Council approves first round of Metro cuts

The King County Council approved the first round of cuts to King County Metro this week, which won
The King County Council approved the first round of cuts to King County Metro this week, which won't significantly impact routes in Federal Way.
— image credit: File photo

The King County Council officially approved the first round of cuts to King County Metro this week, while unanimously approving efforts to reduce the cuts to Metro Transit that have been a point of much contention and discussion in recent months.

“I heard from the voters in April, and they resoundingly told us that King County and Metro needed to do more work and consider each and every option before asking for additional revenue,” said Councilman Rod Dembowski, who chairs the Council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee. “I put forward this plan to identify additional cost savings, efficiencies and new revenue that can reduce Metro’s annual budget gap, and thereby significantly decrease the number of transit service hours that need to be cut.”

The change in strategy, according to the county, means that instead of reducing the 550,000 service hours in 2014 and 2015, the Council’s action this week would only incorporate the first round of cuts planned for September of this year. The total number of routes cut in September will be 31, with an additional eight routes altered.

According to the county, part of the Council’s motion this week also included a “motion calling on the Executive to consider several strategies to reduce or prevent the proposed service reductions for February 2015, June 2015 and September 2015.” Among those strategies are an independent audit of Metro’s operations, finances and fund balance policies; changing fare policies to increase revenues; and reducing Metro’s cost structure and establishing standards through which Metro can be measured against its peers.

The Council’s action also explicitly states that the “results of the strategies and policy statements can be anticipated as part of the Council’s deliberations on the 2015-16 King County budget, including possible reductions in transit service.”

“Cuts proposed for 2015, if necessary, would be finalized after we complete our budget process for the next two years” Dembowski noted. “Cutting service hours before this work is done is, in my view, operating in the dark and ignores the many choices we have to keep buses rolling.”

In Federal Way, the September cuts were anticipated to not be the major round of cuts for Metro service in the city, according to a May 6 presentation by the city’s senior traffic engineer Rick Perez. Perez noted in that presentation that the only major cut anticipated for September would be Route 152, which runs along 272nd Street. The cuts that have been delayed for now, the ones that begin in February 2015, were the cuts the city anticipated would have a significant impact in Federal Way.

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