A major round of West Seattle/White Center-area Metro changes that have been under discussion for months – with some revisions along the way – is now official. The King County Council gave its approval this afternoon to the changes summarized here (with a West Seattle-specific overview here), and they’ll take effect as West Seattle RapidRide launches September 29th. Read on for the official county news release:
The Metropolitan King County Council today gave its unanimous approval to Metro Transit service changes that include the introduction this fall of faster service into downtown Seattle from two of the region’s heaviest transit corridors: Ballard and West Seattle.
“With this transit service change, King County will use existing resources to carry more riders to more destinations,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips, chair of the Council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee, whose district includes Ballard. “By delivering RapidRide and restructuring the system to become more efficient, county leaders are continuing to carry out our commitment to make Metro service a better and more cost effective.”
“September will bring the largest set of service changes in Metro’s history. Many riders in Southwest Seattle will see faster, more reliable service,” said Councilmember Joe McDermott, who represents West Seattle on the County Council. “Rapid Ride C Line is an exciting part of that faster, more reliable service.”
“The Metro Transit service changes adopted today are well thought out and incorporate the goals of the strategic plan and the public,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn, Chair of the Regional Transit Committee. “These new changes were crafted with the input of the public and will serve the passengers and the community in a more cost effective and efficient way. I thank the citizens who took the time to comment on these changes and I am confident these changes will be constructive changes for all involved.”
The arrival of two new RapidRide lines is part of a service package that includes 48 changes throughout the transit system starting September 29. RapidRide Line C will travel between West Seattle to downtown Seattle using Fauntleroy Way SW and California Avenue SW. Line D will come into downtown Seattle from Ballard along 15th Avenue NW.
Rapid Ride is part of the “Transit Now” initiative adopted by voters in 2006. Arriving every 10 minutes during the busiest morning and evening travel hours, the specially-designed buses have low floors and three doors, so people can get on and off quickly. A new fare payment system allows riders with passes to pay as they enter any door.
“In south King County, people have been waiting years for more transit service,” said Councilmember Julia Patterson. “These service changes—which are guided by the values of productivity, geographic value and social equity—will result in service to corridors that have never been touched by transit. That is why I am happy to support these changes and get service to the riders who have been waiting.”
“The changes to Metro Transit Services will increase its overall efficiency by reinvesting 100,000 hours of lower performing routes into higher-performing routes,” said Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer. “This will allow tax dollars going towards public transportation to serve a higher percentage of Metro riders.”
“As a bus commuter on the #41, I know how important transit service is for people who rely on it to get where they need to go,” said Councilmember Bob Ferguson. “These service changes are consistent with our ongoing efforts to make our transit system more efficient by focusing our limited resources on productive, well-used routes.”
The two new routes will mean four of the six proposed RapidRide routes will be operating. Lines C and D will join the “A Line,” which travels between Tukwila and Federal Way, and the “B Line,” with operates from the Bellevue Transit Center to Redmond Transit Center via N.E. 8th Street, Crossroads, and Overlake Transit Center.
Along with the introduction of RapidRide lines C and D, Metro is restructuring other bus routes and continuing its reallocation of lower-performing service hours. The September shift of approximately 65,000 service hours is the largest in the history of the transit system.
The reallocation will allow Metro to reinvest service hours from lower-performing bus routes throughout the system, and is anticipated to increase ridership by more than three quarters of a million rides per year for a net investment of less than 16,000 service hours. The shift bolsters service on crowded routes, will improve schedule reliability and give county residents greater opportunities to choose public transportation over their cars.
The changes continue the shift of at least 100,000 service hours to address high priority needs in the transit system. This goal is part of the approach called for by the Council in the ordinance adopting the temporary Congestion Reduction Charge, and is carried out consistent with the Strategic Plan for Public Transportation 2011-2021 and King County Metro Service Guidelines, adopted by the Council in June 2011.
The adopted service changes are the culmination of a public process that included public meetings hosted by the Council and Metro Transit and over 10,000 public comments. Proposed changes revised after input from riders:
Route 156 will serve the temporary home of Aviation High School and the Highline School District’s Home Schooling Resource Center;
Route 125 will continue to see Saturday service addressing South Seattle Community College needs;
The new Route 50 was slated to stop going to the VA Medical Center drive on Beacon Hill, but the buses will maintain service to this location. Another change to the Route 50 gives the North Delridge neighborhood badly needed access to basic services.
Route 24, which was slated to stop running along Viewmont Avenue in Magnolia, will continue to serve that area;
Route 2, will continue to connect the Central Area, Downtown, and Queen Anne, rather than be split as proposed;
Plans for two other routes serving the Central Area, Routes 4 and 27, were altered in response to concerns raised by the community.
To see all of the changes adopted by the Council, visit: http://www.kingcounty.gov/haveasay