Commuting, congestion, costs, and options
We met with about 60 people at the Federal Way Community Center on Nov. 20, and hundreds more in southwest King County have filled out our online survey. These people have told us that Metro is an important part of their lives, and the proposal to cut transit service has left them seriously questioning how they will get around—especially to and from work.
Most people shared stories about how they depend on Metro to get to work in downtown Seattle via routes 177, 178, 179, and 190. If these cuts are made, the first of these four routes will get added service (17 trips a day instead of 9) to accommodate additional ridership if the remaining three are deleted.
This proposed change is designed to minimize the number of buses going back and forth on I-5 to preserve as many commuter trips as possible between Federal Way and Seattle. But riders are telling us these buses are already overcrowded. Even with additional trips, both pedestrians and cyclists say they expect the consolidated service on Route 177 to be even more crowded. People have told us they will use transit less—or possibly not at all—as a result of that crowding. And they say that this will translate into more congestion on I‑5.
People in Federal Way have also said that park-and-rides in the area are already full, and won’t be able to accommodate the added drivers who will want to park there after we consolidate service.
And some riders say they have no cars to fall back on, or they can’t afford to drive. For them, transit is a lifeline that makes it possible to stay afloat. “The one and only bus (Route 280) I found to get me to work by 5 a.m. is going to be eliminated,” one woman told us. “This will change my commuting costs from $14 a month (employer subsidized) to $260. As a single mother of two kids, this is an extreme blow to me.”
Here are some ideas we heard at the meeting…
- Have routes 177 and 181 follow the same routing in both directions around the Federal Way Transit Center, to make connections between them easier.
- Reduce service on other routes that are very frequent, such as routes 10 and 41, so they come every 30 minutes instead of every 10-15 minutes.
- Instead of cutting routes completely after 9 p.m., reduce the service at earlier times for routes such as 181 and 907.
- Increase bus fares. Several people told us they would be willing to pay more if it means keeping their routes intact. Said one, “I keep hearing that raising the fares is not being considered because it will impact the low-income riders, but not having a bus route will impact them even more.”
- Seek funding from businesses, employers, and cities. These benefit from a fully functioning transit system and should help fund it.
- Tax vehicle registration. Some say they would support funding transit through increased taxes or fees on car tab renewals, because transit benefits drivers by reducing congestion on I-5.
- More belt tightening. Some believe there’s more room for administrative and other efficiencies to shrink our budget gap.
We want to keep hearing your comments, concerns, and questions about the proposed service reductions. For information on upcoming public meetings, visit the calendar on our website. Can’t attend a public meeting? Fill out our online survey.