King County Council approves Metro compromise, prevents some reductions

The Metropolitan King County Council today unanimously approved a compromise plan to move forward with certain bus service reductions for Metro,

The Metropolitan King County Council today unanimously approved a compromise plan to move forward with certain bus service reductions for Metro, while deferring an additional 200,000 hours of service reductions originally proposed for June and September 2015, pending adoption of the 2015/2016 King County budget.

”I appreciate the broad support expressed by today’s Council vote supporting a measured and budget-based approach to transit service changes,” said Councilman Rod Dembowski, chair of the Council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee. “We listened to the community and today’s action is responsive to the concerns that have been raised. I thank my colleagues and Executive Constantine for their hard work in forging today’s legislation.”

“Passing this legislation with a unanimous majority signals the County Council’s interest in listening to the voters and continuing the hard work of putting service on the streets despite financial challenges,” said King County Council Vice Chair Jane Hague.

Following the defeat of proposition 1, the County Executive asked the Council to approve legislation that would reduce Metro bus service by 550,000 hours between September 2014 and September 2015. The ordinance approved today implements only the service reductions originally proposed for September of this year, with a focus on cutting bus routes that are in the bottom 25 percent of productivity in accordance with the County’s adopted transit service guidelines.

The adopted legislation also authorizes 188,000 hours of service to be cut in February 2015, but does not approve the specific routes to be eliminated or revised. The 188,000 hours would be adjusted based upon the recommendation of an ad-hoc committee created to review the July and August economic forecasts and additional financial data from Metro transit. When the service reductions in February are set, the County Executive would transmit a service reduction ordinance for the County Council to consider.

“The League of Women Voters is pleased with the Council’s action today to move forward with a ‘more measured approach’ to the proposed cuts to Metro transit and to establish a process that may minimize the impacts of some of the most devastating proposed cuts and restructures,” said Janet Winans, League of Women Voters Seattle-King County transportation chair. “We have provided testimony to support [Dembowski’s] ongoing efforts on this issue, including the substitute ordinance that was passed. The League supports the Council vote to move forward to postpone the decision making for 200,000 service hours of 2015 transit cuts until further work on a collaborative process can be completed and more information can be available.”

The ordinance also calls for a report from the County Executive by Sept. 30, describing revenue and expense reduction options available to avoid service reductions proposed for 2015. This report will build on existing work to identify further savings and additional revenue already underway by the County Council, including an independent audit of Metro’s operations, finances and fund balance policies, changing fare policies to increase revenue and a peer review of Metro.

The compromise acknowledges the need for additional community input and calls for community workshops on proposed transit reductions with affected communities and stakeholders.

It also requires a report to be transmitted to the County Council with any future service reduction proposal, setting forth other options considered.