Video: West Seattle Transportation Coalition rallies to fight potential Metro cuts

Story/video by Tracy Record
Photos by Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers

As the morning traffic of busy 35th SW – including Metro buses – rolled behind them, three local elected officials joined members of the new grass-roots West Seattle Transportation Coalition to decry the political standoff that could lead to dramatic cuts in bus service, hitting hard in densifying West Seattle.

(L-R, City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, County Councilmember Joe McDermott, State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon)
Metro outlined those potential cuts at a briefing a week and a half ago (WSB as-it-happened coverage here) – including a map showing the shrunken local route system that would result:

(Click for full-size view)
WSTC’s board met last week to plan strategy, and the first result was this morning’s rally – 14 minutes, which you can watch in its entirety in our clip above, bookended by WSTC’s Deb Barker (below) and Amanda Kay Helmick.

“We can’t keep putting a Band-Aid on this problem, we can’t keep expecting Metro to find funds and close this gap,” warned County Councilmember Joe McDermott, who chairs the council’s Transportation Committee. He pointed out that Metro already has taken $800 million in gap-closing actions.

City Council Transportation Committee chair, Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, pointed out that his own bus route, 37, is one of those that Metro says will be “deleted” if its proposed cuts have to be made. And the effects go beyond citizens’ commutes, potentially putting thousands of cars back on the roads and snarling traffic further, affecting freight and commerce: “If this region is in gridlock, we are in deep trouble with regard to our economy.”

Also there, State House Transportation Committee member Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, who told WSB before the event that a special session is still not looking likely for later this week (when legislators will be in Olympia anyway), because they’re not close to an agreement yet. A special session would be vital for legislators to pass a package that would at least allow local voters to be asked to approve taxes/fees to replace the transit funding that is expiring next year; the package is not just about transit, it’s been stressed, but would include road funding too.

If legislators can’t do it, said Helmick (below), closing out the rally speeches, WSTC wants city and county leaders to go immediately with “Plan B,” which could include asking voters to approve a license-plate tax up to $100. “We need action and we need it now,” she declared.

They closed with a round of chanting “Save our Metro,” and WSTC members lingered for Q/A with media in attendance, which included three TV crews.

WSTC members are all volunteers and looking for more reinforcements – as explained on the WSTC website.

Meantime, to share your opinion on the Metro cuts – which, if nothing changes, would start taking effect next September – and what to do to avoid them, the county invites you to:

*Take this online survey
*Send e-mail to
*Come to a meeting December 3rd, 6-8 pm, Youngstown Cultural Arts Center (4408 Delridge Way SW), described as an open house with optional presentation/small-group discussions starting at 7 pm

45 Replies to "Video: West Seattle Transportation Coalition rallies to fight potential Metro cuts"

  • AN November 18, 2013 (1:18 pm)

    They sure could save some money if they didn’t have 5 to 7 buses sitting over at westwood village idling every day. Friday night at 7pm there were 6 just on Barton and another 3 on 25th

  • Robert November 18, 2013 (1:35 pm)

    I gave up commuting by bus when I moved to WS last year. The buses are too cramped, especially the C Line plus it takes me 1.5 hours to get to my office at the UW via Metro!

  • Joe Weihe November 18, 2013 (1:43 pm)

    The fragility of Metro funding is another reason NOT to build a single residential unit in WS without parking. Hundreds of new units without parking and simultaneous cuts to bus service? Welcome to Downtown West.

  • AG November 18, 2013 (2:13 pm)

    Thumbs-up to comment #1. There are 5-7 buses sitting there every single time I pass.
    Not to mention all these new apartment/condo complexes being built with kickbacks for limited or nonexistent parking, with the understanding that all those thousands of people will take the bus. THAT’s gonna work…
    Wasn’t it just last year that a bunch of bus lines were cut in WS and the C line implemented — and it was such a giant CF that Metro brought routes back? Right. So we’re going to do this again and expect different results? What do we call that again? Oh, right. Insanity.

  • LStephens November 18, 2013 (2:15 pm)

    A huge thank you to all of the people working with the West Seattle Transportation Coalition. Your hard work, time and efforts are appreciated for your contributions to our community. Your dedicated efforts will truly have an impact on the quality of our mobility and way of life.
    Thank you!

  • sillygoose November 18, 2013 (2:38 pm)

    This is such an oxymoron let’s fund the transportation short falls by adding fee’s to car tabs but yet you are trying to force cars off the road aka junk budgeting as usual. We have cars so we can enjoy the mountains, oceans and various out lying areas none of which I want to sit on a bus for hours to reach if they even travel to these locations. Let’s face it Seattle loves their cars and we will continue to drive them! So instead of punishing us for owning a vehicle how about put together a street and road plan that makes sense!

  • MJC November 18, 2013 (2:38 pm)

    Busing to Bellevue is not feasible from West Seattle. It would take at least 2 hours from my home in Sunrise Heights. If we had a park & ride with a direct route to Bellevue I would be in, but currently commuting 4 hours a day for 34 miles round trip is rediculous. No wonder so many people stopped taking the bus. Also, the channelization of WS streets is sickening. People are being forced into their cars due to cuts to transit and yet we are turning 4 lane roads into 2 lanes with a bus and bike only lane. At least make the bus only lanes accessible to carpoolers, this would help alleviate the congestion on the north end of Delridge.

  • metrognome November 18, 2013 (2:47 pm)

    AN & AG — I assume you get a 30 min lunch break and probably 1 or 2 15 min breaks at work and can take potty breaks whenever you want and maybe sneak out for coffee or snacks… the drivers deserve breaks as well. If the buses are idling, it’s because it’s more efficient for the clean diesel engines than to be shut down and restarted.
    AG — I think your recollection of ‘a bunch of routes being brought back’ is incorrect.
    Robert — if you’re going to the UW, you should check into Rideshare; there probably won’t be a vanpool, but there should be carpools available.
    the signs should read ‘1 40′ bus = 35-40 cars’ and that’s if everyone has a seat; with a standing load, the capacity is higher; a 60′ artic carries about half again as many.

  • Smitty November 18, 2013 (2:55 pm)

    1 bus = 28 cars

    Shouldn’t that read:

    1 bus holds up 28 cars at every bus bulb….

  • AN November 18, 2013 (3:06 pm)

    Hey Metrognome…. yes I get breaks and lunch but a lot of these read “Terminal”. Those that don’t say terminal are the same routes, 21 and C.
    There should never be 5 or 6, of the same route, on breaks/lunch at the same time.

  • Chas Redmond November 18, 2013 (3:22 pm)

    Those buses at Westwood are “end of line/beginning of line” vehicles and spares. The C and 21 are both 15-minute minimum all day and to make that work Metro has a “spares” pool available if there’s a reason one of the schedule buses is interminably tied up. In other words, it’s “flow control” for buses leaving and arriving at the terminal – which is why they say TERM. Buffers is another way to put what’s going on. Also, given recent experiences, they might also be “overflow” reducers for periods when one or more buses leaves passengers at stops because of overflowing conditions onboard. Not a waste at all if one wants some degree of reliability in a sea of unreliable travel conditions.

  • Ex-Westwood Resident November 18, 2013 (3:31 pm)

    “Plan B,” which could include asking voters to approve a license-plate tax up to $100.
    Well lets look at the ACTUAL, NON-SUBSIDIZED cost per passenger BEFORE we hit drivers, who are already paying for EVERY other forms of transit from bikes to rail. MANY of whom can’t take a bus to work.
    If the data shows, and I believe it does, that ridership has been increasing, slowly but steadily, maybe increasing the fares modestly would be a better route and receive more support from the general public.
    I know that the ACTUAL cost of a LLR from SEATAC to Downtown is close to, if not over $27.00, yet the fare charged is ONLY $2.75.
    If there are 100,000 fare paying trips per work day, an increase of $.75 will add $75,000 per day, $1.5 Million per month, $18 Million per year. That is assuming a 20 day work month and not taking into account weekends.
    I have taken the bus to work when I was working on Lk. Union. It would take a 2 block walk and 45 mins. and one transfer in the morning and 100-110 mins. for the trip home in the afternoon, one way trip was 12 miles. Today, because of where I work now, it would a one mile walk, three busses and 90 min in the morning and three busses and 150 mins in the afternoon, one way trip is 8.5 miles. Truely, not practical.
    Plan ‘B’ should be making those that use the service to pay a bit more to keep using it instead of soaking those that may not have a choice on the transportation mode they can take.

  • happy November 18, 2013 (4:03 pm)

    It looks like there would be no bus service at the combined high school / middle school?


  • old timer November 18, 2013 (4:49 pm)

    @ Ex-Westwood Resident — 3:31 pm

    If “LLR” in your post means Link Light Rail, your example has not much relevance to Metro since Light Rail is provided by Sound Transit, another agency with it’s own revenue sources.
    As to the rest of your analysis, how much of Metro’s shortfall is covered by your proposed $18 million fare increase?

    As to the rest of the bus haters, I don’t think anyone is trying to overtly convert you to the bus, just letting you know that with the 27% cutback in Metro services to West Seattle, everyone will be experiencing colossal traffic mayhem as all those passengers seek other ways to jam the three ways off the peninsula.
    A “me first, where’s mine, up yours” attitude works to a point
    of everyone in the same stewpot.

  • EMO November 18, 2013 (4:51 pm)

    Ex Westwood,

    It doesn’t work that way. Simple microeconomics should tell you if you raise the fare by $1.50, usage will fall, so you won’t actually raise all that cash. Plus all those people you’ve driven off the bus are now sitting in their cars clogging up the streets even more.

    For most everyone, taking the bus is less convenient than driving, so there have to be economic incentives to get people onto buses. But this is a win-win situation – if each individual drove him or herself to work, traffic would be fairly impossible, health costs from breathing smog would skyrocket, and the planet would overheat even faster than it does.

    People who drive to work SHOULD pay more for the privilege of getting door to door service when they want it. There’s no law that says you’re entitled to it – you should be happy to pay a few extra dollars to keep all those other cars off the road and out of your way.

  • West Seattle Hipster November 18, 2013 (5:22 pm)

    Just got my tab renewal on Saturday and noticed that $55.00 of the $93.00 I will be paying goes towards transit.


    Metro needs an outside audit before we blindly give them more money.


    I firmly believe in mass transit, but something is very wrong with how that organization is run.


    Is Kevin Desmond the right person for the job?


  • zark00 November 18, 2013 (5:55 pm)

    Is Metro mismanaging funds? Is Sound?
    I’m honestly asking, it seems like they have/are, but I really don’t know.

    The Rapid Ride seems like a completely idiotic idea from jump, then made worse with a botched implementation.
    This debacle that is Rapid Ride cost us what? And gained us what? It certainly didn’t improve public transportation.

    The light rail doesn’t go all the way to the airport, so nobody rides it. I know it’s Sound, but it’s another example of how inept public transportation companies are in this region. You had a blueprint, it’s called Portland, but you ignored it and build a train to nowhere. Epic Fail.

    “Federal Transit Administration (FTA) was told by Sound Transit in 2003 — when the $500 million Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) was awarded — that the predicted fall 2011 average weekday light rail ridership would be 32,500, a number not yet reached as of the end of 2012, and higher than the most recent forecast for 2013 of 27,900.”

    And someone, prob Sound again, is spending what to build this ridiculous trolley from the stadiums up Beacon hill? Yes, a trolley, they call it a streetcar because that sounds better, but it’s a child’s toy they’re spending millions for. Wake up, nobody will ride it, and we don’t need it. I believe that this trolley to nowhere was actually hidden in the Light Rail to nowhere bill of goods were were sold. Lies, a bunch of lies that rail scheme was/is.

  • JayDee November 18, 2013 (6:26 pm)

    Look, we don’t just have to believe in Transit, we need it and must use it. Yes, Metro has challenges but overall King County has done more with less since 2008, and aside from how the C-line was implemented (OCRA scanners at every stop and bag the cute branding…we can sit in normal Metro shelters) the C is pretty crowded unless three of them come by Spring and 3rd in a 5-minute period. I will really hate it if the 56X disappears entirely — The 128 to the C? Oh Joy! (Not)

  • Fred November 18, 2013 (6:58 pm)

    Privatize the bus system…
    Cut all public subsidies…
    Make the riders pay the actual cost…
    Defeat Constantine’s $100 per car tab fee proposal…
    Get rid of current fee added to registration fees…
    Take away dangerous metro bus driver’s jobs…
    Increase the penalty for crimes committed on buses…

  • Lura Ercolano November 18, 2013 (7:18 pm)

    zark00, the airport station opened four years ago.

  • Lura Ercolano November 18, 2013 (7:23 pm)

    I believe a well-run, bus company that serves EVERY neighborhood is a basic utility, that everyone should pay for. And even if I never ride the bus or light rail, just having it there and available would be worth about one car payment per year. Far more than $100 tabs.
    But I’m not picturing just a few jam-packed buses on particular routes at rush hour. I picture a service that goes everywhere, all day long. Even late at night. While that would be expensive, it provides benefit to non-riders – customers to businesses, employees to jobs, students to school.

  • wetone November 18, 2013 (7:36 pm)

    I will continue to vote no on any car tab, gas or property tax increases for metro until their bad spending and planning habits change. The more money they get the less service and destinations we get. Metro needs to make sure people using the system pay for their ride along with raising usage fees. Just like my vehicle usage fees go up metros fares should also. Sooner or later we will have to start a bicycle usage fee to justify money and resources being spent. Use it pay for it !!!!! no different than having a boat, rv, motorcycle, snowmobiles, cat, dog…..

  • Reality November 18, 2013 (7:50 pm)

    “Last year, about 76% of workers 16 years and older drove to work alone—just shy of the all-time peak of 77% in 2005, according to data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.”

    Rest of the story is here:

    A perfect transit system won’t change the fact that most Americans drive and will continue to do so. Attempts to make driving and parking unbearable won’t have the intended results and will have severe unintended consequences. I’m preaching to the people that voted a socialist into city council so whatever….

  • Ex-Westwood Resident November 18, 2013 (7:59 pm)

    So EMO you think that people need to FORCED into riding a bus to work?
    Nice thought…if you live in Cuba or Venezuela.
    What’s next? Being forced to pay for Medical coverage that you will never need or use?
    Transit works when it is affordable and convenient, the way Metro is ran now places an unreasonable burden on those that don’t, for various reasons, use it.
    As I explained above, if I was able to utilize the system I would, and I wouldn’t mind paying a little more to use it.
    Even the $.75 fare increase I suggested would keep the fare to about 25% of the ACTUAL cost of the ride.
    I don’t think its too much to ask those that use something to pay at least 25% of the cost to operate it.
    As far as your implied effect of car emissions adding to “Global Warming” you might want to look at the carbon footprint of all these Hybrid and electric vehicles (including the NEW busses), they are 10 times that of a “Hummer” from the time the first weld is made to the end disposition of the vehicle

  • Ex-Westwood Resident November 18, 2013 (8:05 pm)

    People who drive to work SHOULD pay more for the privilege of getting door to door service when they want it. There’s no law that says you’re entitled to it – you should be happy to pay a few extra dollars to keep all those other cars off the road and out of your way.
    This really rises my ire.
    There is no law that entitles me to get “door-to-door” service so I can get to a job THAT pays the taxes YOU and others use?
    True, but then again there is no law that says the Gov’t needs to provide YOU with a way to get where you need to go either.
    If YOU use it, why are you opposed to paying a bit more for that service?
    The entitlement mentality is alive and well in WS!!!

  • Noelle November 18, 2013 (8:57 pm)

    Metro is in quite sad shape. As need for busses has increased & ridership has ballooned, the funding for Metro has gone kaput! Seattle wants to be a big city, but no big city can thrive without solid transportation. Metro needs to get funding somehow or Seattle will never grown into its potential.

  • Kathy November 18, 2013 (9:09 pm)

    Metro may be incovenient to use but unless you get the City or Olympia to fund many more car lanes going in and out of the peninsula your car will be useless as more bus riders are forced into their cars and all the new housing units being built/planned fill up. Whether or not those units have parking will be irrelevant because who needs a car if all the access roads are permanently turned into parking lots? We only have limited space, friends. Wouldn’t you rather start working toward making public transportation more convenient in the future than just complain about sitting in your car behind a bus today? Think ahead.

    West Seattle Hipster, did you miss the first outside audit of Metro? You want another outside audit? You want to pay for that one too?

  • CeeBee November 18, 2013 (9:25 pm)

    Does anyone know how the amazing bus system in London is funded?

  • Jic November 18, 2013 (9:43 pm)

    Coming from Chicago, the public transportation is a joke here. I’m not sure where all the money goes, but I don’t see any of it put to use for transit. Why should it take me an hour and two busses to get to Ballard, or even Capital Hill? The only place one can get to from WS without a ridiculous transfer seems to be the downtown core. That’s poor transportation. I’m not going to take a bus and backtrack into the city just to catch the train to the airport either.

    These route cuts are absurd, but the current bus routes are pretty poor as well. A major overhaul needs to be done, and putting all the revenue raises on the backs of those who drive, many of whom don’t have a public transportation option for their jobs, is ridiculous. I wouldn’t mind a minor gas tax increase or a small car tab increase, but not before the cost to ride on public transit has been raised and the currently awful route planning has been addressed.

    Part of the reason I left the last city I lived in was the blatant mismanagement of public funds. It’s starting to look like Seattle is Chicago-lite in this regard.

  • datamuse November 18, 2013 (10:02 pm)

    CeeBee: partially through fares, partially through government grants, partially through loans, and partially through commercial development of property belonging to Transport for London, which runs the entire transportation network for the city. They also get the Congestion Charging income. (Source: Transport for London website.)
    The interesting thing to me is that the city buses are privatized, albeit with fairly strict rules about things like what vehicles they can use and what fares they can charge. On the whole it looks like a really extensive, sophisticated, and centralized system, which is good considering that it’s been around longer than Seattle’s been a city.

  • Mike November 18, 2013 (10:16 pm)

    1 bus != 28 cars. 1 articulating bus blocking 5 lanes on Columbia and 3rd Ave at 5pm, causes 1/2 mile backup. You know what was in front of him? Another articulating bus that took over half a block of Columbia Way. Cars maneuver better in city than busses. Busses are great for traveling on the highway from the suburbs to the bus tunnel. Light rail, ferry, and yes…cars work well for commuters. I guess the 4 of us packed in our SUV > than the empty bus running to the terminal on 99 in rush hour traffic the other night.

  • Civik November 18, 2013 (11:54 pm)

    Sorry WSTC, but I will not pay Metro another $100 for a service I have no use for. I’m all for a working Metro system, but the current one doesn’t work all that well to begin with and citizens are wondering just what their money is paying for.

    PS, London also has a great tube network and rail system. Got very familiar with an Oyster card for about a week and was able to visit many places from Wool to Nottingham.

    Want to know something though? Rush hour was still pretty dang bumper to bumper in the city. Taking the bus was silly because most places were easily walkable and you could get there faster.

    Seattle is simply not that walkable. Steep slopes make a walk feel like you’re going three times as far(especially with children). Not as much to walk for, either.

    Portland doesn’t feel like you’re walking that far, and I’ve walked downtown from south to north and back. The trolley and train seems to work pretty damn easily for the downtown core. Plus, it appears that someone actually thought to plan the trolley to run N/S while the train runs the city center E/W.

    We desperately need a transit system that works and nobody understands what Metro is blowing its funds on. I’d vote against any additional funding until a complete audit is done and made public.

  • T November 19, 2013 (5:25 am)

    This is laughable. Seattle has become a joke.

  • Jtm November 19, 2013 (6:34 am)

    Metro has put restrictions on the advertising they allow on their fleet…for no real reason other than passenger complaints. Although not the panacea here it is a revenue steam they are refusing.

  • JoAnne November 19, 2013 (8:12 am)

    Just so ironic that politicians who said nothing about road diets, the ridiculously expensive and useless water taxi, or anything else that could have helped alleviate transportation problems are out there “protesting.” Against what? Themselves?

  • McBride November 19, 2013 (8:28 am)

    Interesting. I’m riding the water taxi right now with a whole Bunch of folks. Man, I LOVE this thing.
    So many good thoughts expressed here. I’d like to reiterate that the WSTC is comprised of folks from All walks, all ideas are on the table, and all potential solutions are worth exploring. (I’m a big fan of transit, but also use my personal vehicle extensively, and harbor a sneaking suspicion that the funding model Metro operates under is fundamentally flawed).
    If you have an economics inclination, your ideas and contributions are welcome and desired as well. The problem is larger than bus routes. Check the WSTC site ( and consider what you can offer. Thanks.

    • WSB November 19, 2013 (8:45 am)

      We don’t yet have a big bucket where all recent comments on the site are mingled so WSB readers can see what in general is being discussed – but it’s something I can see on the administrative side and coincidentally, McBride’s comment was preceded by one following our daily traffic coverage, from a WT commuter:
      just a datapoint – TR

  • Al November 19, 2013 (8:53 am)

    Wow – just, wow.

    All these drivers think that the roads are 100% paid for by themselves alone? The roads are also subsidized. The roads are for everyone to use, for mobility, not just for personal cars, but buses, pedestrians, bicyclists, buses, etc. We all pay. Sales tax, income taxes, etc. all go to support the roads no matter how we use them or how frequently we use them.

    I am willing to bet that the biggest ranters here do not ride the bus or use other modes of transportation on a regular basis. I use the bus, the water taxi, my bike, my own two feet, a motorcycle, and a car depending on what I need to do. This city, especially West Seattle, needs buses. The hills, the location, the time of day is all crucial for access to mobility. Having access means that sometimes a bus may run closer to empty, but it’s available. How often are these ranters saying, “Hey, between 1:00 – 3:00 am on my street that’s paid for by my taxes, NO ONE DROVE ON IT FOR TWO HOURS! Shut down the street! No one uses it! Increase the user fees for my street, it’s not paid for…”

  • West Seattle since 1979 November 19, 2013 (9:19 am)

    Ex-Westwood Resident, most transit riders work and pay taxes as well. Many transit riders also have cars, so they pay for tabs. I’m not against raising fares (again) but it’s not as if transit riders are getting a free ride (sorry about the pun).

    Kathy, could you please post a link to the audit? Although judging by the comments after yours, it doesn’t seem as if anyone noticed anyway, so I don’t know if it’ll do any good.

    Reality, that survey is talking about nationwide. What are the statistics for Seattle & King County?

  • AndrewN November 19, 2013 (10:52 am)

    Here’s an FYI. Most people living in the city of Seattle take transit, carpool, walk, or bike to work. And 43 percent of downtown workers take transit to work, including those who live outside the city.


  • villagegreen November 19, 2013 (2:06 pm)

    Only in West Seattle could a desire to save bus service turn into a bunch of people ranting about buses making traffic worse. I always expect the idiocy, but am somehow still shocked when it’s confirmed.

  • Ex-Westwood Resident November 19, 2013 (2:07 pm)

    WS since 1979,
    I NEVER claimed that transit riders are “getting a free ride” but the simple fact is that their ride, depending on what transit option they choose, is ONLY costing them 10-20% of the ACTUAL cost of that ride.
    Pretty close to free, don’t you think???
    Yes you are correct.
    People who work downtown are more likely to take transit. I did when I was working at NOAA on Lake Union. The routes the VAST majority of busses make allow that.
    The LLR could have been a BOON to mass transit if they (the planning committee) didn’t kowtow to special interest groups and instead ran it through job centers and actually took a look at how to make it a REGIONAL mass transit option, instead of just a way to get to/from Downtown Seattle and the Airport.
    There is so MUCH waste, poor planning, short-sightedness at Metro that all they care to do now is DEMAND more money with the threat of reducing services than try to look at sensible alternatives.

  • West Seattle since 1979 November 19, 2013 (6:08 pm)

    Ex-Westwood, not really, because transit riders are paying taxes as well . A lot of them have cars too, so they have car tabs and gas taxes too.

  • West Seattle since 1979 November 19, 2013 (6:13 pm)

    Oh, and I agree with you about light rail, Ex-Westwood.

  • John November 22, 2013 (7:40 pm)

    Pay your fair share? Well then, so should those pesky school kids. Instead of living off my property taxes (I don’t have a kid in Seattle Public Schools), each of the 50,000 students should pay 25% of the SPS operating budget of $591,000,000. That’s $3,000 per kid. Each year. Did you pay that? No — you used my property tax money. You’re welcome! And I don’t even mind doing it for you! I want to live among a mobile, educated populace and I’m willing to pay for it. And so shall you, by the rule of the people.

Sorry, comment time is over.