Courtesy Ned Ahrens, King County

Today the County Executive and Council announced an agreement that paves the way for the Council to enact the congestion reduction charge. As mentioned in earlier posts, the agreement includes right-sizing bus service along with phasing out the Ride Free Area, and implementing a transit incentive program. So, what exactly does it mean to right-size bus service?

Metro will explore a variety of alternatives for “right-sizing” services recognizing that one type of transit service may not fit every community’s needs. These alternatives are called for in Metro’s new Strategic Plan for Public Transportation, and provide promising new tools to help maintain transit service for communities that do not have high ridership due to their rural character. Under right-sizing no community currently served by Metro would be left without transit options.

To offset service reductions or eliminations on routes that have lower ridership, Metro will identify a menu of “right-sized” transit services that can effectively replace up to 20,000 hours of traditional fixed-route bus service by June 2012. These more cost-effective services could include alternatives such as Dial-a-Ride Transit (DART) service, community access transportation, vanpoool or volunteer transportation programs, and would benefit communities in east and south King County that are adjacent to rural areas.

Over the next year, Metro will reach out to community organizations and groups to explore partnerships for creating these various lower-cost services, and invite residents to help shape these right-sizing strategies.