8:57 AM: Busy morning at the Bike-To-Work Day station hosted under the bridge by West Seattle Bike Connections – with repairs/checkups as well as treats.
This is the first BTW Day since WSBC was formed.
ADDED 10:53 AM: WSBC president Don Brubeck tells WSB they had 592 riders by 9 am – up 38 percent from last year! He shares the photo below, featuring Sonia Honeydew, who helped count riders (and baked cookies!), with rider #592:
Don says Stu Hennessey of Alki Bike and Board (who’s in our top photo) says last year’s count was 429. Don adds, “Some riders zoomed right through. Many stopped for a chat, cookies, coffee, and bike checks or helmet fit adjustments. I enjoyed actually meeting people I see every day going the opposite direction. Bob Winship led the West Seattle Bike Connections volunteers for the station. Kathy McCabe, Deputy Director, and Serena Lehman, Community Outreach Manager, were with us representing Cascade Bicycle Club.”
(back to original 8:57 am report) Meantime, in downtown White Center, local businesses set up a Bike To Work Day station outside Caffé Delia (WSB sponsor) offering treats:
The events on this side of the bay are usually focused on the morning; for afternoon events, check the Cascade Bike Club’s official page.
Two major stops tomorrow in our area for Bike To Work Day – the customary station under the West Seattle Bridge, 6-9 am, will be hosted this year by West Seattle Bike Connections, whose website has details here. And if you head south – or ride from the south – downtown White Center, in front of Caffé Delia (9622 16th SW; WSB sponsor), is THE place to stop, also 6-9 am – here’s what they have going on. (And if you’re going through someplace besides WS/WC – check the map on the Cascade Bicycle Club website.)
(King County photo)
Will state legislators be impressed? They were the real target of tonight’s County Council committee hearing inviting people to voice their concerns about Metro’s warning of “devastating” service cuts if nothing is forthcoming to replace special funding that expires next year. The Times estimates the crowd at about 400, and multiple sources say more than 100 people signed up to speak, with the hearing finally ending after 7:30 pm. Coverage links:
*Coverage on the Metro Matters website
*Tweets, photos in a Storify aggregation
*Seattle Times (WSB partner) coverage by transportation reporter Mike Lindblom
*Daily UW report, focused on student participation at hearing
If you’re just catching up, our coverage of Metro general manager Kevin Desmond‘s April 1st briefing explains what’s going on, with links to ways in which he says service might be affected. From that story, the map of potential West Seattle changes (shown again at today’s hearing, according to Joe Szilagyi from the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council):
(Metro summary of what West Seattle/White Center might face, with a clearer view of the map shown above, here)
More recently, here’s our Tuesday report following a WSB interview with Desmond, mostly on behalf of the skeptics who still aren’t so sure crisis looms. So what happens now? Depends on the Legislature; HB 1954 – reintroduced when the special session started Monday – remains the bill to watch, for now.
Mayor proposes $900,000 in East Marginal safety improvements, $500,000 for lower Spokane St. and vicinityMay 14, 2013 at 12:55 pm | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | 10 Comments
(5/7/2013 photo by Christopher Boffoli for WSB)
Less than two weeks after 54-year-old Lance David died at East Marginal and Hanford after his bicycle collided with a truck, and one week after participating in a memorial ride to that site, Mayor McGinn says today that he’s asking the City Council to approve $900,000 in safety improvements to that area, and about half a million for lower Spokane St. and feeder roads such as Delridge and Admiral. Read on for the official announcement, which includes other proposed work around the city:
As announced last week, SDOT plans to shift the Delridge Way repaving work to Phase 3, Thistle to Trenton, this Wednesday. The section of Delridge that will have a southbound detour during that time will be between Thistle and Holden. Above, the map; below, the update:
Beginning May 15, southbound traffic on Delridge Way Southwest in West Seattle will be detoured at Southwest Holden Street and the currently detoured stretch from Southwest Thistle to Southwest Trenton streets will be reopened. The closure will allow the contractor working for the Seattle Department of Transportation to reconstruct the roadway and install storm drains. The new detour, from Holden to Thistle streets, is expected to remain in place through mid July. This work is Phase 3 of the project that is rebuilding much of Delridge Way Southwest.
Traffic will be redirected (see attached map):
· West on SW Holden Street
· South on 35th Avenue S
· East on SW Thistle Street
· South on Delridge Way SW
Delridge will remain open to northbound traffic except for intersection work. Local access to businesses and residents will be maintained.
This is a five-phase project. At the end of Phase 3, construction activity will move north to Phase 4, between SW Orchard and SW Holden streets.
(Metro Route 21 bus traveling westbound on Avalon, past under-construction apartment building)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Will Metro have to slash its services – or will some of the supplementary funding that expires next year be replaced, averting crisis?
This week might be pivotal. For starters: Today, state legislators are back in Olympia for a special session. They hold the power to give transportation-funding “tools” to local leaders – but whether they will do it is very much in question, as two West Seattle’s state legislators told the 34th District Democrats last Wednesday (WSB coverage here).
County leaders, including Metro management, hope for a show of support at a special public hearing tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon – and through an online comment form, if you can’t make it to the hearing to speak in person.
With all this as a backdrop, the man who runs Metro, its general manager Kevin Desmond, sat down with WSB for a conversation, which we videotaped in its 48-minute entirety.
Full disclosure, it was their idea, not ours: After reading countless WSB comments about Metro, including skepticism from some suggesting the money woes are more about mismanagement than funding shortage, county Transportation Department communicators asked if we would be interested in an interview, so we worked out time to sit down at his Pioneer Square office. First, if you just want to hear for yourself, here’s the unedited video (your editor here is the voice you hear asking questions; WSB co-publisher Patrick Sand was behind the camera):
If you’d prefer to read the highlights – key points are ahead, along with more about what’s next:
(UPDATED 12:52 AM with fire’s cause)
(Photo by WSB’s Patrick Sand)
8:09 PM: Firefighters are just starting to arrive at a possible house fire at
34th and Morgan. They’re reporting smoke and flames. We’re en route. Firefighters say the house is boarded up – so at this point, they are fighting it “defensively,” not going in. Westbound traffic is blocked on SW Morgan, so avoid the area.
(This and next two photos by Tony Bradley)
8:16 PM UPDATE: Our crew arriving at the scene says this is not at 34th despite the radio transmission – it’s at 36th and Morgan, a house that has been the source of trouble in the past.
8:24 PM UPDATE: The fire is in the basement. Though initially, noting it was a boarded-up house, firefighters were not going in, they are now searching and so far have not found anyone inside. Traffic at 35th and Morgan, and westward, is blocked. No report of injuries.
8:37 PM UPDATE: Also no sign that anyone had been inside, we are told at the scene. The Fire Marshal is en route to investigate. Meantime, we finally had a moment to dig up the background – it was last October 4th when we first reported that the house had been boarded up, five weeks after neighbor complaints had come to a head with a stolen-property case.
8:54 PM UPDATE: With the fire basically out, they have finished searching the house. Nobody inside. Neighbors tell us they have seen a couple people coming and going recently, though (which as discussed in comments had been noted even after the house was boarded up). The street is likely to open within 45 minutes or so, and authorities are trying to get Metro buses through, since this is on the 128 route.
9:05 PM: Police have just announced via radio that eastbound SW Morgan is reopening.
12:52 AM: SFD says the fire was started by “spontaneous combustion of improperly-disposed-of stain rags,” with damage totaling $30,000.
Another “spot repair” project just announced for a stretch of West Seattle roadway:
Seattle Department of Transportation’s paving crews will replace concrete roadway panels on Delridge Way Southwest at 23rd Avenue Southwest (near SW Graham Street) on Wednesday, May 15th. Two-way traffic will be maintained. Drivers may encounter some congestion in this area during the work.
This project is being funded by SDOT’s annual paving program and the Bridging the Gap transportation initiative approved by Seattle voters.
(Tuesday photo by Christopher Boffoli for WSB)
Since the deadly crash on East Marginal Way eight days ago, much has been said about improving the route bicyclists from West Seattle (and points southward) take to get downtown and beyond. This morning, City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen – shown above during Tuesday evening’s memorial ride/gathering (WSB coverage here) – asked us to share this update:
Plans to Improve Bicycle Route from West Seattle to Downtown
Tom Rasmussen, Transportation Committee Chair, Seattle City Council
Last week’s fatal collision between a bicyclist and a truck resulted in an outpouring of grief for the death of Lance David and sympathy for his family. While we are not certain what led to the collision, I am determined to improve conditions on this route that will benefit bicyclists and motorists.
Last week I completed and posted my newsletter. The main subject is Seattle’s bicycle plans and policies. Here is a link to the newsletter.
A few days after the article was posted, I held a work session with SDOT staff. We pored over a large map of the route to identify options for improvements. I know this route, and I bicycle along this route to and from work when my meeting schedule permits. It is very challenging because of the heavy traffic and the many and sometimes confusing crossings. There are long stretches where the streets have been pulverized by the mammoth trucks going to and from the Port. The conditions require extra caution on everyone’s part, whether they bicycle or drive this route.
Please know that it did not take this heartbreaking fatality to bring attention for the need to improve this route. Last fall, the City Council increased the 2013 SDOT budget for bicycle improvements city-wide. We specifically funded planning for improvements to portions of the West Seattle route to downtown.
During the next several weeks I will continue to work with SDOT and members of the community to develop a plan for improvements to the West Seattle – East Marginal Way bike corridor. I am determined to implement those plans as soon as possible.
The many suggestions during the past week in the comments section of the West Seattle Blog are very helpful. If you have other suggestions for improvement, please post them in the comment section or write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
More scenes from this year’s Bike to School Day – Astrid shares two photos from Westside School (WSB sponsor), pointing out:
Westside School, with a student body population of only 237 in the Lower and Early Grades, had 39 students and 4 teachers participate. Would love to acknowledge all the dedicated students, teachers and parents for participating in the event, and a big thank you to the Cascade Bicycle Club for their encouragement.
And quite the bike collection resulted!
Also on Bike to School Day, this family photo came in from Sean:
BTS Day is part of Bike Month – here’s the Cascade calendar of upcoming events.
(Photo by @bpsnyder, via Twitter)
Two and a half days after the bicycle/truck crash that killed 54-year-old Lance David, about 100 people gathered this afternoon where it happened, at East Marginal Way and Hanford, in his honor. Many rode from his workplace, Expeditors International:
(This and subsequent photos by WSB’s Patrick Sand)
Mr. David was on one of the five Bike-to-Work teams at Expeditors, according to Don Brubeck of West Seattle Bike Connections, who also observed: “Mr. David worked in the freight shipping industry. Just like the truck driver. I hope it will help the community understand that this is not ‘us’ vs. ‘them.’ It’s all ‘us.’ A bunch of people who work in jobs that are dependent on the port ride a bike to get to work. Bike riders depend on the port for jobs, and those companies have employees who ride bikes.” Many of those at this afternoon’s gathering signed a shirt with the company logo:
It was then put on the utility pole holding the ‘ghost bike’ placed at the crash site Wednesday night.
WS Bike Connections and WS Greenways are organizing a memorial ride from Seacrest on Tuesday (May 7, 5:30 pm, full details here). It’ll be some time before police put out a final report on the crash; their initial findings are included in our Thursday report, which also details some of the safety concerns at the scene and the discussion at Wednesday night’s monthly meeting of the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board.
(Photo by Eric Shalit – rough pavement at E. Marginal/Hanford; ‘ghost bike’ in background)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The bicycle rider killed in the East Marginal Way crash on Wednesday has just been officially identified by the King County Medical Examiner’s Office as 54-year-old Lance David of Federal Way.
We also have learned that a memorial ride for Mr. David is being organized for this Sunday, 1 pm, from Marymoor Park – full details are on this Facebook event page.
Meantime, since the crash, safety concerns continue to percolate, with two crashes today leaving riders hurt.
First, what happened today: Just before 9:30 am in the 400 block of Alaskan Way, blocks from yesterday morning’s crash, a 53-year-old man lost control of his bicycle and crashed to the ground, the impact breaking his helmet, according to public-safety radio communications. So far, authorities have not reported any other vehicles involved; the man was taken to the hospital.
A few minutes before that, we later learned, a 32-year-old woman had fallen from her bike after colliding with a car on Delridge Way SW alongside the Boren school building. Seattle Fire spokesperson Kyle Moore says she “suffered minor scrapes and bruises” and didn’t want to go to a hospital, so firefighters took her home.
Bicycle safety was already on many people’s minds since the deadly crash on Wednesday morning. Many bicycling advocates are reaching out – May has long been Bike to Work Month and Bike to School Month, so some events already were scheduled; for example, tonight, riders can stop by the West Seattle Tool Library for free bicycle repairs, 6-9 pm (northeast side of Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, 4408 Delridge Way SW). Says Stu Hennessey, “Our goal is to help our bicycle community ride smooth and safe.”
And there’s a bigger picture to safety, as discussed at last night’s Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board regular monthly meeting downtown – which began with a moment of silence in honor of Mr. David.
That “cartoon” is what Metro Transit executives used to wrap up their briefing for the Seattle City Council this morning. “Cartoon” isn’t quite the right word; the prospect of more bus-service cuts is no laughing matter, as they warned – the briefing was basically the same one that Metro general manager Kevin Desmond gave to news media four weeks ago (WSB coverage here), with one extra twist: The Legislature has now adjourned without approving a transportation-funding package, and there’s no guarantee it’ll do so in the special session that is set to start May 13th. If they don’t, Desmond warned councilmembers, “we risk taking a giant step backward … the impacts will be very, very significant, (putting) up to 70 percent of current routes at risk.”
10:11 AM: Saturday saw big delays on the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth ferry route after M/V Klahowya had to go in for repairs. But it’s fixed now, and WSF says it will be back in service just after noon.
11:04 AM UPDATE: Never mind – now WSF has posted another update saying Klahowya is NOT ready to go back into service.
2:39 PM UPDATE: WSF now says Klahowya won’t be back before Monday night. On the F/V/S run currently, according to the latest alert, “There is currently a one-hour wait for drivers departing the north Vashon terminal due to reduced capacity from operating on a tw- boat schedule, and heavy vehicle traffic waiting to board the vessel.”
Another big event at Lincoln Park today – the celebration following the first annual Denny-Lincoln Family Bike-Riding Classic. Denny parent Theresa Beaulieu shares photos and a report on the event:
Students, parents, and teachers all rode their bikes from the school to Lincoln Park. Students learned how to check their bikes prior to starting the ride, which included station A for Air, B for Brakes, and C for Chain/Cables, and how to ride safely on city streets. They also learned how much they love being on their bikes. We heard many of the kids say they want to ride more often. At the park we were greeted by Denny Community Learning Center lead Will King, who was ready to give out BBQ’d hot dogs and drinks. The kids all joined in a few races and won great prizes donated by Redline bikes. Each student also went home with a reusable Redline bag full of goodies. We all had a great time!
Theresa adds that the group got a sendoff from Denny principal Jeff Clark before heading to the park:
He voiced hopes that more Denny students will bicycle to school in the years ahead, and thanked Theresa for leading the volunteer effort to make it happen, Will for organizing the finish-line celebration, and “the students, parents, teachers, and West Seattle Bike Connections for their participation and support.”
P.S. May is Bike to School Month – just days away!
11:44 AM: WSB’er JayDee asked about a long ferry-wait line near Lincoln Park – from Washington State Ferries, here’s the reason why:
The Klahowya is out of service due to necessary repairs to the vessel. The 11:10 am sailing from Fauntleroy is cancelled. The next two departures from Fauntleroy to Vashon and Southworth are 11:45am and 12:20pm. Customers should expect delays. We apologize for the inconvenience. Updates will be posted when more information becomes available.
1:25 PM UPDATE: WSF has some cancellations, too – if you’re headed that way, ask about the ongoing schedule changes when you arrive at the dock.
(Photo courtesy ‘Keep King County Moving’ Coalition)
Following up on our Monday report about transportation-funding proposals approved by the House Transportation Committee, two notes:
First – as promised, the “Keep King County Moving” coalition of political and organizational leaders hit the road for Olympia this morning to urge approval of the package. Among them were two West Seattleites seen in the photo above – County Executive Dow Constantine and County Councilmember Joe McDermott.
Second – a little more information on part of the proposal that sparked some discussion among WSB commenters following our Monday story. It would include funding to “split” Metro RapidRide Lines C and D – which currently are really one line going between West Seattle and Ballard. We asked the King County Department of Transportation if any more details were available, and spokesperson Rochelle Ogershok replied today:
This is a proposal for capital improvements. It calls for $15 million to split the RapidRide C and D lines to improve reliability and provide additional direct service to growing job centers in the South Lake Union and SODO neighborhoods.
The approach under consideration would have the C Line running between West Seattle and South Lake Union. The D Line would operate between Ballard and SODO. There is no specific routing sketched out at this point – that is something we would want to work with businesses and the city on if this legislation passes. Also, this proposal does not include added service hours or bus terminal/transit center space in South Lake Union that would be required to support these changes so this concept would need to be part of a broader legislative package that includes sufficient operating revenues.
Delridge RapidRide, splitting RR lines C and D, 47th/Admiral safety, more in bills passed by State House Transportation CommitteeApril 22, 2013 at 2:23 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 53 Comments
From Olympia: 34th District House Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon – who is on the House Transportation Committee – says the committee passed a package of transportation-funding bills today, and tells WSB he “was able to help amend the bill to add some projects of local significance.” Keep in mind, this isn’t anywhere near final approval, but right now, here’s some of what he says the bills now contain:
*$125,000 for safety improvements at the notorious 47th & Admiral intersection.
*$500,000 for safety improvements on the West Seattle Bridge bike trail
*$33 million for improvements to Metro Route 120
*$15 million to split RapidRide C and RapidRide D – this will significantly improve reliability on both routes and add a new bus connection between West Seattle and South Lake Union
*Authorization for King County to seek the full 1.5% motor vehicle excise tax for transit (60%) and local roads (40%), subject to voter approval. This will enable Metro to maintain current levels of service.
That last one is related to the dire dollar situation outlined by Metro Transit general manager Kevin Desmond at his media briefing three weeks ago (WSB coverage here). Regarding the biggest proposal on the list, Route 120 improvements, Rep. Fitzgibbon says the money is proposed to “leverage nearly completed speed and reliability enhancements supported by the State Regional Mobility Grant Program to serve a rapidly growing ridership base of over 8,000 daily riders. Implementing RapidRide in the corridor would provide additional enhancements such as real-time information and off-board fare payment. An investment of service hours would be required to get to frequency levels of 10 minutes or better in the high commute times and 15 minutes all day.” We’re still waiting for all the fine print on today’s action to appear online; the bills involved are HB 1954 and 1955, according to Rep. Fitzgibbon, who says their next stop is the Rules Committee.
ADDED 4:02 PM: A group of local politicians and advocates is planning to head to Olympia tomorrow morning to lobby for this to make it the rest of the way through the Legislature. They’re planning a 10:30 am media briefing; County Executive Dow Constantine and City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw are among them.
The California/Fauntleroy intersection has been the subject of much discussion since RapidRide led to curb/lane reconfiguration for the stops on its west and north sides and changed traffic patterns – our cameraphone photo was taken while we were stopped behind a bus and a car on northbound California, as another car attempted to get around ours on the right, impossible because of the bus bulb:
How’s the intersection working overall? Are any changes planned beyond the “safety curb” on the west side of the intersection? For this Wednesday’s quarterly meeting of the Morgan Community Association, the intersection’s at the top of the agenda, with a guest from SDOT; if you have questions or concerns, be there. The agenda also includes guests from West Seattle Bike Connections (which just launched a new website), King County Wastewater Treatment Division (updating the Lowman Beach combined-sewer overflow project as it approaches construction), and a variety of other topics. All are welcome – 7 pm Wednesday (April 17), lower-level meeting rooms at The Kenney (7125 Fauntleroy Way SW; WSB sponsor).
Reminder that the West Seattle Water Taxi starts its spring/summer/fall schedule tomorrow, which means not only 7-day-a-week operation, but also the return of midday runs, since the winter schedule only handles the morning and afternoon commutes. You can see the new schedule here. But don’t expect to see the newly acquired vessel Spirit of Kingston tomorrow; county reps told WSB earlier this week that crew members are training and other work is under way before they put it into service to replace Rachel Marie (shown above in a WSB file photo).
To reduce impacts to the community, intersection construction is taking place on weekends, working around the clock. The next intersection closure is at SW Thistle Street from 7 pm Friday, April 12, until 6 am, Monday, April 15 at the latest.
Through traffic will be detoured, with local access maintained. Detour information will be available shortly. Meanwhile, most of the in-road work in Phase 1, between SW Henderson and SW Trenton streets, is now complete. Remaining elements include weather-dependent crack-sealing work and final roadway markings.
As-it-happened: Metro Transit GM discusses potential route cuts and reductions, if ‘sustainable funding’ is not foundApril 1, 2013 at 9:58 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 85 Comments
9:58 AM: We’re downtown at Metro HQ in Pioneer Square for GM Kevin Desmond’s upcoming briefing on the cuts that are foreseen if “sustainable funding” isn’t found (here’s our background report from last night). The top of the news release we’ve just been handed is “65 bus routes face elimination when Metro Transit’s temporary funding expires.” **The cuts, if needed, would start taking effect in fall 2014, not this year.**
UPDATED: Full list of 65 routes that might be cut: 7EX, 19, 21EX, 22, 25, 27, 30, 37, 48NEX, 57, 61, 76, 77EX, 82, 83, 84, 99, 110, 113, 114, 118EX, 119, 119EX, 123EX, 139, 152, 154, 157, 159, 161, 173, 179, 190, 192, 197, 200, 201, 203, 205EX, 210, 211EX, 213, 215, 216, 237, 243, 244EX, 250, 257, 260, 265, 268, 277, 280, 304, 308, 601EX, 907DART, 910DART, 913DART, 914DART, 919DART, 927DART, 930DART and 935DART.
Full list of 86 routes that might be cut: 1, 2S, 2N, 3S, 3N, 4S, 4N, 5, 5EX, 7, 8, 9EX, 10, 11, 12, 14S, 16, 21, 24, 26, 26EX, 28, 28EX, 29, 31, 36, 41, 43, 47, 48N, 60, 65, 66EX, 67, 68, 70, 71, 72, 73, 106, 107, 116EX, 118, 121, 122, 125, 148, 156, 177, 181, 182, 186, 187, 193EX, 202, 204, 209, 214, 221, 224, 226, 232, 234, 235, 236, 238, 241, 245, 246, 248, 249, 255, 269, 271, 309EX, 311, 312EX, 331, 355EX, 372EX, 373EX, 901DART, 903DART, 908DART, 909DART and 931DART.
A Metro summary of what West Seattle/White Center might face, with a clearer view of the map shown above, is here.
10 AM: Metro GM Kevin Desmond begins his briefing. “We have a lot to share with you, a lot of information.” He says the system is at a “crossroads. … Unfortunately, bus service cuts are on the horizon again.” After some background about Metro’s second-highest ridership last year, and the increasing use of the service, he gets to the explanation of why they are in money trouble, including sales-tax revenues and the impending expiration of the “Congestion Reduction Charge” approved by the Legislature as a bridge that runs out next year. Metro also has raised fares, reduced staff, improved productivity, drawn on reserves, cutting its capital program to cover the budget gap, Desmond says. He says they are still looking for belt-tightening ways, but when the CRC expires, “we are still facing a very considerable hole in our budget” – $75 million. And that doesn’t even speak to needs, he says, such as retiring aging buses.
10:08 AM: Desmond explains that what’s being released today are not just projected cuts/reductions, but also the annual route-performance report mandated by the County Council for delivery on this date. He says that ideally, they should be increasing service by 10 percent “right now” to serve underserved corridors and improve quality of service – including relief of overcrowding – and that he wishes he were here talking to us about such improvements and increases. “What we’re facing right now based on the initial analysis is reduction of about 600,000 hours of service” – a 17 percent cut. He says the 65 routes potentially to be cut are those falling in the bottom 25 percent of ridership and other criteria. “Mind you, that’s just relative – that does not of course mean that people don’t use those routes – a lot of people do in fact use those routes.” But he says only half the 600,000 hours to be cut could be taken from the bottom 25 percent – some of the lowest-use routes have to be kept to serve certain areas.
Metro currently has 200 routes – discontinuing 65 would be a cut of about a third, and “the effect on our customers cascades.” Routes that aren’t ended or cut would become more crowded, and overall, the reduction would affect an estimated 70 percent of the system. And he says they will certainly lose ridership, including those who are no longer served, and those who say it’s too inconvenient and go back to driving. “Particularly in the context of a growing economy … this will place more and more pressure on the region’s highways and arterials that are already crowded by more and more traffic.”
10:16 AM: He says they are announcing the possible cuts now – even before knowing for sure if the Legislature will provide relief by giving permission for seeking new revenue sources – because they have to prepare. None of this would kick in till fall. And this doesn’t even cover possible restructuring – such as what happened in West Seattle last September. Overall, he says, sustainable funding is not just about staving off cuts, but also enabling Metro to grow, which it needs to do. **We have added the full lists of routes that MIGHT be cut and routes that MIGHT be reduced, above. Please let us know if we’re missing identifying which ones are West Seattle-linked.**
10:23 AM: Q/A. First one: What about fare increases? Desmond says they have had many already, and “that’s raised a lot of money.” They are already assuming a fare increase in 2014, he says, “and that’s built into the deficit.” He says they haven’t lost hope for this legislative session – Desmond says he’s heard talk it may go overtime. “We think the time is now,” since even though these cuts wouldn’t kick in until NEXT year, so much preparation is needed, they need new revenues flowing by the time the Congestion Reduction Charge expires in the first half of next year. He says that if there is a statewide solution, great – the state used to provide a lot more money – but if not, “we need local options,” such as a Motor Vehicle Excise Tax, but “we’d be open to other tools.” He doesn’t think more sales tax is the solution – relying on it so much in the past has left them vulnerable, because of sales tax’s “volatility” as the economy fluctuates.
10:32 AM: Going through more of what Metro has put online – here’s a close-up look at how our region might be affected if these dire cuts are needed. There’s a map, too, which we’ll add to this story as soon as we can process it. Meantime, Q/A continues – Desmond says they are continuing to “work with our labor unions to find ways to contain cost growth” as well as other ways to be “smarter” about spending, but he insists that the King County Auditor’s finding have already resulted in changes and there is not much more they can do. “We will continue to push reforms, we will continue to push working as smart as we can …” If the Congestion Reduction Charge can be extended – $20 for every motorist – it would still only cover a third of the money problem they have, he says. If the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax suggested by regional leaders including King County Executive Constantine and Mayor McGinn is implemented, it would go to roads as well as to transit (which would get 60 percent of it, more than $80 million). But that would only leave $10 million to cover growth, and Desmond says they need to be growing to the tune of $30 million a year, because “the demand for transit is insatiable in this county, frankly.”
10:39 AM: Asked if cuts are inevitable given all the pressure, Desmond says he’s an “optimist by nature. … King County needs to succeed.” He says he thinks even people who don’t use transit will understand the need to “dig deeper into their pockets” because of the road capacity and the fact transit helps with that. “It makes the overall network work better.” So what would he want to see? He’s not specifying exactly which funding source he thinks would be best, just a source that’s “progressive enough and consistent enough … for a sustainable future.” Asked to reiterate the timeline of these possible cuts, he says what’s being discussed today is just “a starting point for our planners,” who would be coming up with something to take to the public starting late this year. Asked again about raising fares, which one reporter says people are suggesting on Twitter, he reiterates that another fare hike is in the works for next year and the farebox recovery – how much of the expenses are covered by fares – is already at more than 27 percent. But, he says again, a quarter fare increase only covers about $10 million. “At some point, you start raising the fare too much, and a lot of people will not be able to afford transit,” or quit because it’s not cost-effective.
10:49 AM: The other shoe dropping on transit funding, the looming expiration of the “mitigation money” covering 45,000 hours of service – mostly in our area – has been brought up. Desmond says he has not spoken to Gov. Inslee yet about that problem (or transit funding in general), but they remain hopeful that the state will find money in WSDOT’s budget to extend that. He says the mitigation money so far has resulted in a “roaring success” – more people on transit, fewer people driving on “that very congested corridor.”
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Crowded buses on busy routes, service cuts on non-busy routes.
But what’s happened with Metro since last fall is nothing compared to what is looming if politicians can’t get the money mess straightened out, with two sources of funding about to expire.
Tomorrow (Monday) morning, Metro’s general manager Kevin Desmond plans to meet the media to offer specifics on what the transit service believes it will have to do if its next big budget shortfall isn’t solved. The briefing will come in advance of a Metro report going to the King County Council tomorrow “outlining routes at risk of cancellation or reductions … unless Metro can obtain a stable revenue source.”
The specifics will go beyond what Desmond told two groups of politicians earlier this month – politicians who say it’s up to the Legislature to empower them to rustle up more money.
The first problem is the scheduled end of “mitigation funding” – $32 million the state gave the county to make up for the transportation complications posed by the Highway 99/Alaskan Way Viaduct projects.
Though the West Seattle/South Seattle expansion of Car2Go‘s car-sharing service wasn’t supposed to start officially until tomorrow, its white-and-blue Smartcars are already here. Thanks to everyone who reported sightings; WSB contributing photojournalist Nick Adams found this one in the Alki area early today. And if you check the company’s Seattle availability map (thanks to Sue for sharing the link), you’ll see them listed from Duwamish Head to Lincoln Park. Car2Go’s expanded “home area” does not include all of the peninsula – that map is part of this update we published earlier this week. P.S. If you have questions, Car2Go tweeted that it would have reps at the West Seattle Farmers’ Market today – we haven’t been there yet to check but will be stopping by shortly.
Thanks to Dave for forwarding the Car2Go newsletter that just arrived with confirmation of the West Seattle start date – next Monday. From the newsletter:
Effective Monday, April 1st, 2013, we will be expanding the car2go Home Area into West and South Seattle.
This newly expanded area will cover parts of South Seattle (including Beacon Hill, Hillman City, Mt Baker, Georgetown, SODO and Columbia City) and West Seattle (including the Junction, Alki, Seaview, North Admiral, Delridge, Seaview, High Point and Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal).
To keep up with the demand and the new expanded area, we will be adding an additional 100 car2go edition smart fortwo vehicles to our Seattle fleet. We will start to make these new vehicles available to customers beginning April 1st.
The new “home area” map (dark blue – that’s where cars can be parked, though they can be driven outside the area) announced by the car-sharing service is above.
As of today, weekends will include three-boat service for eight hours each day on the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route of Washington State Ferries. That’s part of the spring schedule that has just taken effect as of this morning. Here’s the overview of changes on other routes; find the spring-schedule links here.
ROAD REPAIRS: When we reported last night that a city document showed repaving work scheduled for California SW between Holly and Myrtle (map), we promised a followup. We checked in with SDOT communications director Rick Sheridan, not just to verify that work, but to ask if anything else is coming up. The California SW paving work scheduled for 9 am-3 pm April 2nd and 3rd will be “spot repairs,” Sheridan verifies. As for the schedule ahead, he says “small-scale surface repair” is planned later in April for westbound SW 106th in Arbor Heights, between 35th and 37th SW. He says both of these projects are being paid for from the General Fund.
UTILITY PROJECT: As sometimes happens, when one note comes in with a question, another comes in simultaneously with an answer. Someone asked what’s happening with the road work in the 5000 block of California SW (near Rite-Aid); the reply is gas-line maintenance and it could close a lane, plus some of the parking, until the end of the month. It’s supposed to just happen between 9 am and 3 pm but our tipster reported seeing flaggers already set up with lane constriction at 7 am.
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Header image by Nick Adams. ABSOLUTELY NO WSB PHOTO REUSE WITHOUT SITE OWNERS' PERMISSION.
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