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Metro’s budget provides for the delivery of public transportation services to the people of King County. Metro provides a wide range of services, including about 180 bus routes—six of which are RapidRide lines—Dial-A-Ride Transit (DART), and operation of the City of Seattle’s South Lake Union and First Hill streetcars.

Budget priorities

In addition to those fixed-route services, Metro offers accessible services for people with disabilities, commuter vanpools, and alternative services tailored to local needs in communities where regular bus routes aren’t the best fit.

Metro also operates Sound Transit’s Link light rail and most of its Regional Express bus service in King County under contract, and is reimbursed for the operating costs and relevant capital costs.

Every two years, Metro works with the County Executive’s office to develop a two-year budget. The Executive then submits a proposed county budget, including Metro’s, to the King County Council. The Council considers the proposal and may make changes before adopting a final budget. The Council adopted Metro’s 2017-2018 budget in November 2016.

Budget reflects improved finances, growth

Metro is one of the fastest-growing transit agencies in the nation.

The 2017–2018 budget focuses on expanding our capacity to provide the service our customers need today and in the future, as envisioned in our METRO CONNECTS long-range plan.

The current budget reflects changes in Metro’s finances

In the six years following the 2008 recession, which caused a steep drop in sales tax revenue for transit, Metro was on an austerity budget that limited our ability to grow.

The 2017–2018 budget reflects our improved financial situation. Funding from the City of Seattle, increased sales tax revenue resulting from the stronger local economy, and other resources have enabled us to expand service. While robust sales tax revenues support service investments now, history has shown that the strong economy will not continue indefinitely. Metro follows Fund Management policies adopted by the King County Council to moderate the effects of economic volatility and preserve service for our customers.

With ridership at a record high, we are striving to expand and improve the Metro system to accommodate the needs of our growing population and ease traffic congestion. However, the increase in service following the earlier cuts has strained the capacity of our system and our people.

Metro’s 2017–2018 budget focuses on expanding our capacity to provide services. The budget invests about 300,000 service hours to meet our highest priority needs, including those identified in our annual system evaluation. It also lays the groundwork for METRO CONNECTS, which envisions doubling transit ridership and increasing service by 70 percent by 2040.

2017-2018 budget priorities and new investments

Metro has a $1.6 billion operating budget for 2017-2018, and a $2 billion capital program for 2017-2022. The following are budget priorities and new investments:

Keep our system safe, make it safer
  • Add nine officers to expand Metro Transit Police presence
  • Finish installing security cameras on 100% of buses by end of 2018
  • Build a strong safety culture and FTA-required safety management system
Deliver outstanding service
  • Add service to improve reliability, reduce crowding, and meet other needs identified in our annual system evaluation
  • Improve cleanliness of buses and customer facilities
  • Create innovative new alternative services
  • Plan the next-generation fare payment system
  • Expand customer information tools
Improve service reliability, build capacity for future
  • Add recovery time to schedules to help buses stay on time
  • Make improvements in transit corridors to keep buses moving, such as bus-only lanes
  • Keep facilities and vehicles in good repair
  • Modernize technology systems
  • Acquire land, design, and begin building a new bus base
  • Develop program to implement METRO CONNECTS
  • Begin planning and building new RapidRide lines
  • Form partnerships to invest in transit improvements
  • Plan new layover facilities
  • Expand transit-oriented developments
  • Invest in walking and biking pathways to transit
Make Metro an even greater place to work
  • Strengthen Metro and unions’ Partnership to Achieve Comprehensive Equity
  • Enhance programs to attract, retain and develop employees
  • Engage employees in Lean and Continuous Improvement
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