County Council changes Metro bus-cut plan; West Seattle ‘deletions’ no longer certain

July 21, 2014 at 6:50 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 14 Comments

Separate from the November vote on Seattle taxes to avoid Metro Transit cuts in the city limits, the King County Council has reached a deal today that changes the timetable for cuts. While the September cuts are still on as planned, and the number of hours scheduled to be cut February are to stay the same, here’s the biggest news for West Seattle: The round of cuts that was going to hit our area the hardest – originally scheduled for September of next year, involving route deletions – is not necessarily a sure thing; it will be worked out during the next round of county budgeting. (Here’s a document from last May showing which routes were to be affected in which phases.) The February cuts will be examined by a newly created committee, according to King County Executive Dow Constantine‘s version of today’s announcement. Here’s the County Council‘s version of the announcement, which includes the following explanation:

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 consideration by the County Council. …

The ordinance also calls for a report from the County Executive by September 30, 2014 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.

This isn’t because the county is suddenly flush with money; sales-tax revenues were actually down a bit in the last forecast, the county says, and it won’t get a new one until next month. But councilmembers pressed to shelve at least some of the cuts until the financial picture clarified. This doesn’t necessarily mean the cuts planned for fall of next year won’t happen – but the plan won’t be final until it gets closer.

14 Comments

  1. Until Metro gets a handle on wages and salaries, I will vote NO on the car tab and sale tax increase.

    Comment by GOP in WS — 6:57 pm July 21, 2014 #

  2. See, the Council heroically stepped in and saved (for the people!) what was never in jeopardy in the first place.

    Comment by CandrewB — 7:55 pm July 21, 2014 #

  3. I was told that the sky would fall and that kittens would die because I voted no on car tabs and sales tax. This is unacceptable.

    Comment by Unacceptable — 7:59 pm July 21, 2014 #

  4. Why is it always the grouchy mean-spirited people that want to post about cutting bus service? I’m voting yes because a lot of people I know – kids and adults – need the bus to get form place to place. AND it keeps traffic to its currently unbearable state.

    Comment by emo — 7:36 am July 22, 2014 #

  5. My amateur psychology says they are bitter, unhappy people who feel disenfranchised. Lashing out in a hurtful way and being against everything is the only way they feel like they have any power. P.S. Our household is going tote YES.

    Comment by jwright — 8:51 am July 22, 2014 #

  6. @GOP in WS, Metro does have a handle on wages and salaries. Apparently you think they need a different handle? Do you think we are paying salaries directly, or don’t you care that highway users pay most Metro salaries through fuel tax?

    Comment by RayK — 11:31 am July 22, 2014 #

  7. @CandrewB, what are you referring to as saved? The Metro service cuts are still in the plan for next year so our service is in jeopardy. KC Council simply added another review of revenue and expenses when the cuts are more imminent.

    Comment by RayK — 11:35 am July 22, 2014 #

  8. Folks above… they didn’t eliminate cuts that were “promised.” They have simply acknowledged that they will reassess the future ones again before implementing, based on new revenue information. And they have promised to conduct yet another audit to look for any more inefficiencies which have not been previously identified. There’s no trick or lie here. It’s just standard — and appropriate — due diligence by government officials.

    Comment by Mickymse — 11:53 am July 22, 2014 #

  9. If there was any “due diligence” on the part of local politicos, we wouldn’t have this problem in the first place. It doesn’t sound like the Council or the Executive will be re-prioritizing the *entire* county budget or looking at inefficiencies and fat-trimming on a County-wide basis. Anyone want to take bets on when the next funding measure for 911 or EMT service will come up? It seems pretty clear, at least to me, that after safety (police, fire, paramedics) should come transportation, including public transit, in the King County budget priority list. In other words, in NEITHER case should funding be left up to a vote of the people. We allegedly did that when we voted in the Council and Executive.
    .
    If we DO see more levies for safety or transportation in the future, we should seriously question Council members and the Executive when they come up for election. If they don’t acknowledge the necessity to make these areas primary budget priorities, vote ‘em out. And keep voting ‘em out till someone gets in office who gets the message!

    Comment by DarkHawke — 3:57 pm July 22, 2014 #

  10. The state gas tax does not pay for Metro service, except when additional bus service is purchased as mitigation for a highway project (like the AWV replacement project).

    Comment by Paul — 4:00 pm July 22, 2014 #

  11. while they sure cried all hell would break loose….now oh look it’s not so bad. basically delaying what they said had to happen ASAP until after another tax increase vote. looks like the county cried wolf a bit in hopes of scaring people into a yes vote…..population in Seattle is rising…that equals more tax revenue…..home prices sky rocketing….equal higher property taxes along with higher excise taxes when homes are sold. what is the city/state/county doing with this increased revenue? they’ve been given a raise by all these increases and now they want more? who do they think they are….head of city seattle light????

    Comment by joel — 10:30 pm July 22, 2014 #

  12. Voting NO on whatever goofy tactic they cook up to throw money at the problem. The problem is people are expensive and their benefits are a time bomb. Get control over the overhead, or the overhead will control you. Governmental entities like the City of Can Bernardino, CA and Detroit, MI have gone bust under these pressures. The key is control, if the government mucky mucks can do the job. Get it done oh powers that be.

    Comment by Thomas M. — 10:37 am July 23, 2014 #

  13. Financial responsibility. These are lessons I learned from my parents and I teach my children and grandchildren. You are pissing me off. I’m tired of paying your effing way.

    Comment by R — 5:19 pm July 24, 2014 #

  14. One of the problems with asking for additional taxes is that they’re not saying what routes would be saved and which ones would still be cut so that funding for people in Issaquah who use the Seattle buses will be available. I’m having a hard time convincing myself I should vote for a tax increase at the same time they’re probably going to cut the 22 bus and leave me a half hour walk to the nearest remaining bus. My fear is that “saving Metro” doesn’t mean saving the neighborhood circulating bus routes in West Seattle, but replacing them with increased seats on the high density runs. If that’s not the case, tell me which buses will not be cut if the tax increase happens. Can’t provide that information? Come back and ask for money when you can.

    Comment by NickN — 11:11 pm July 24, 2014 #

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