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King County Executive
Dow Constantine

Executive congratulates members of Regional Transit Task Force on winning prestigious award


King County Executive Dow Constantine today congratulated the appointees to the Regional Transit Task Force for winning the prestigious James R. Ellis Regional Leadership Award from the Municipal League of King County.


King County Executive Dow Constantine today congratulated the appointees to the Regional Transit Task Force for winning the prestigious James R. Ellis Regional Leadership Award from the Municipal League of King County.

"We asked 28 local leaders to set aside arbitrary political divisions and come up with transit recommendations that meet the needs of the entire county, and they exceeded all expectations," said Executive Constantine. "That takes real leadership, and I'm pleased to see their hard work and vision recognized by the Municipal League."

The Ellis Award honors individuals and organizations for contributing significant leadership in the examination of regional public policy problems. The Regional Transit Task Force (RTTF) is a 28-member panel representing a broad coalition of transit stakeholders in King County and the Puget Sound region. Last year, the Executive and Metropolitan King County Council tasked the group to identify short-term and long-term objectives for transit service investment, and to formulate a service implementation policy based on those objectives.

The work of the RTTF is expected to form the foundation of a unified regional effort to work with the state Legislature to replace the volatility of the sales taxes that now provide the majority of the funding for public transit with a more long-term, sustainable source of revenue. This revenue source will be needed to avoid deep cuts to Metro Transit service in future years and to plan for future growth of Metro’s bus system – the ninth-largest in the nation – as millions more potential riders move to this region in the coming years.

The RTTF recommendations were accepted by the County Council in December. They are now serving as the foundation for work by a joint Council and Executive staff group to develop a new Metro Transit Strategic Plan that can be transmitted to the King County Council at the end of February. The plan will be heard in the Council’s Regional Transit Committee, which is made up of County Council members and elected officials representing cities throughout the county, with a goal for the Council to adopt final legislation by August in time to help Metro set its biennial budget for 2012-13.

Members of the task force said they were honored by the award, and pleased to see their work recognized.

“The task force has set a new benchmark for how we can collaborate on solutions to the most urgent challenges facing our region,” said Bob Drewel, Executive Director of the Puget Sound Regional Council. “With transit funding in decline, the region requires innovative thinking and actions. The task force has provided the county with a new blueprint for making decisions about transit services.”

Members not only immersed themselves in transit facts and figures in a relatively short time, they also reached beyond traditional boundaries that have limited regional transportation planning in the past.

“The task force was a very diverse group, with members representing business, labor, environmental organizations, higher education, social service and transportation agencies, bus riders, and elected officials from all corners of King County,” said Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen. “Yet, we landed on a unified vision for our transit future, which was a real breakthrough in regional cooperation.”

Even though financial limitations drove their work, the members never lost sight of the people – now and in the future – who would be affected by their recommendations.

“I was proud that our recommendations focused on transit efficiency, but also recognized that our transit system must serve those who are most in need of transit service, and that we have to create a fair distribution of service for all residents and businesses throughout the county,” said Issaquah City Councilmember Fred Butler. “I believe we have outlined policies to create a strong integrated transit system.”

The work of the task force is not yet finished.

“Last fall, we provided a direction and tools to assist Metro in making significant changes, but our commitment doesn’t end there,” said Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke. “We have pledged to continue our service as a resource to the county and Metro as they continue to address the challenges and implement the recommendations.”

Related information

Members of the Task Force
Members of the Regional Transit Task Force
King County Executive
Dow Constantine
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