Transportation, sustainability, and quality of life

North Seattle

On Dec. 5, about 30 people braved an unseasonable cold snap to join us at North Seattle Community College, learn more about proposed bus cuts in their area, and share how the cuts will affect them. We’ve also heard from 602 people in north Seattle via our online survey. In all of these conversations, we heard that proposed cuts will affect everyone in one way or another—more-crowded buses, longer walks to and from the bus, or longer commutes.

“Public transportation is an important part of moving toward a more sustainable future…We are not investing in our future by making these drastic cuts.”

Participants noted that King County has forward-thinking residents and leaders who aim for sustainability, and cutting public transportation seems counterproductive to these goals. Many told us that Metro is about more than just getting from point A to point B: it’s about quality of life, and we need more transit service, not less, to preserve and continue to improve that quality of life. As one person said, “Increasing Metro service is important for so many reasons: climate change, traffic reduction, and equity within our city are just a few.”

These cuts come at a time when ridership is high, and many shared the sentiment expressed by one participant, who said: “All of the routes I take are currently very crowded, so it’s hard to understand why they are targeted (for cuts).”

What do we mean by “productivity?”

We measure the productivity of each route in two ways:

  1. The number of passengers who ride the bus per hour the bus is operating.
  2. The total miles riders travel on the route compared to the total miles the bus covers from when it leaves the base until it returns.

We compare each route using these factors to all other routes in our system that serve similar markets. Routes that fall in the bottom 25 percent on either or both of these measures are performing poorly. Because of the deep cuts we must make if no new funding is identified, we’ll have to revise or even delete more than just the lowest performing routes in our system.

Participants at our North Seattle meeting shared many other concerns as well, most of which boiled down to:

Less transit = more cars = more congestion = more pollution = worse city

Question of the day

“What other funding options are being discussed besides sales tax revenue?”

A: Several funding possibilities have been looked at for avoiding these service cuts. The first is a statewide transportation funding package that would need to come from the state Legislature. If the Legislature does not authorize such a package, the King County Executive and Council are exploring a local alternative that would require a vote by county residents, which would probably take place next spring or early next summer.

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.