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First round of Metro bus cuts take effect Sept. 27

To match service levels with actual revenues, King County Metro Transit must move forward with a first round of difficult and unprecedented service cuts Sept. 27, canceling, reducing and revising dozens of bus routes.

Service will be canceled on 28 routes and another 13 will be reduced or revised. Riders should visit the Metro website to review the September cuts and reductions and begin to assess daily travel plans for later this fall.

Redmond-area routes 250 and 265 will be deleted, and routes 238, 249 and 931 will be revised, the former two potentially in two phases.

The scheduled cuts will help bring Metro’s spending within its existing revenues. The King County Council recently adopted service cuts totaling 349,000 hours between September 2014 (161,000 hours) and February 2015 (188,000 hours); specific routes for the February cuts will be reviewed and made final by an executive/council ad-hoc committee.

The King County Council will determine future Metro transit service levels this fall as part of deliberations on the county’s 2015-16 biennial budget.

Six years of avoiding service cuts

The cuts and reductions come after six years of work by Metro Transit and the county to preserve daily service for riders in the face of decreasing revenues. Metro reduced spending, increased fares, charged temporary fees and made ongoing agency improvements to reduce costs. Service cuts were identified based on analysis of ridership productivity, where service is provided and who depends most on transit service.

County sales tax revenue forecasts continue to show fluctuations in Metro’s key revenue source, which provides more than 50 percent of transit funding. In turn, Metro continues to budget bus service based on identified dependable revenue levels.

Metro continues to explore ways to stretch dollars, preserve service

Several ongoing discussions and efforts are underway to review operational costs, fare policy, customer service and future service reductions needed to bring spending within actual revenues.

• Peer review by the American Public Transportation Association examined Metro’s programs, operations and policies in the context of industry best practices and identified where we exceed and meet industry standards and identified approaches to improve program cost effectiveness.

• Sales tax revenue projections: A new forecast July 18 shows sales tax revenue is growing less than predicted in March 2014 — reinforcing Metro’s conservative approach to budgeting based on money we can count on. Another forecast is due this month.

• Continuing to develop a 2015/2016 budget: The county executive will submit the two-year budget to the County Council Sept. 22 for adoption in November.

• A Metro fares report to the County Council this month: This report discusses potential fare changes and how they would affect Metro’s revenue, ridership and other aspects of service.

• Outside auditor will review Metro’s reserve policies and capital spending plans.

• Low-income fare implementation: Metro remains on target to launch this new program March 2015.

• Community Mobility Contracts program: This program will allow cities or other entities to “buy back” planned service reductions or purchase new transit service from Metro.

• Customer service review: A panel will consider ideas to improve the experience of Metro riders.

 

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