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New vision for public transportation in King County with Council adoption of transit strategic plan


Metropolitan King County
Council News

New vision for public transportation in King County with Council adoption of transit strategic plan


Plan provides clear guidelines and goals, revamps formula for allocation of transit service


Supporting a new direction for transit service in King County, the Metropolitan King County Council today gave its unanimous approval to the Strategic Plan for Public Transportation 2011-2021 and Metro Service Guidelines. The approved plan sets goals for regional transit by encouraging transparency, streamlining current transit policies into a single unified blueprint and establishing guidelines for the allocation of transit service throughout King County.

“It’s a new era of productivity, efficiency, and transparency for Metro Transit,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips, chair of the Council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee. “Putting transit service where it’s most used and most needed will replace the old 40/40/20 approach to distributing transit service. Empty buses will now be redeployed to address overcrowded buses and underserved areas.”

“Conversations about transit service have been bogged down by the 40-40-20 policy for a decade. This has been a tremendous regional effort where everyone came together to make sure that the Metro bus system is as efficient as it can be,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn, chair of the Council’s Regional Transit Committee. “Through this process, Metro identified more than 450,000 hours of service from low productivity routes or areas where service restructuring could result in greater efficiency. This will serve to streamline our transit system through the difficult times ahead.”

“Today’s passage of the Strategic Plan provides transparency to both policy makers and the transit riding public,” said Council Chair Larry Gossett. “This new system moves us away from old paradigms in the distribution of transit service and allows us to have a bus system based on productivity while still ensuring social equity.”

The Strategic Plan builds upon the foundation set by the Regional Transit Task Force (RTTF), the panel created to develop a vision for public transportation in King County. The RTTF gave a series of recommendations that have been incorporated into the Strategic Plan, including measurable goals and regular reviews of the plan and making changes when needed.

The Strategic Plan also eliminates the current policy on the allocation or reduction of transit service. Currently, bus service is distributed on a proportional basis, with each transit subarea receiving a set amount. Under the proposed Strategic Plan, making service reduction and service growth decisions would be based on priorities that include:

• Emphasizing productivity due to its linkage to economic development, land use, financial sustainability, and environmental sustainability;
• Ensuring social equity; and
• Providing geographic value throughout the county.

“What sets this plan apart from other transit plans is that it honors what’s most important in a transit system and is not based on politics or rigid formulas, like those we’ve seen in the past,” said Councilmember Julia Patterson. “This plan is an example of what we in this community are capable of accomplishing together.”

“By putting productivity first, this plan is a milestone towards improving how transit service is allocated in King County,” said Councilmember Bob Ferguson, who commutes on the Metro route 41 from Northgate. “As the County grapples with how to prevent a 17 percent cut to transit service countywide, today’s action serves as the foundation for the Council’s imminent decision about whether to preserve bus service and meet the plan’s goals.”

The Strategic Plan has several primary goals and a series of objectives and strategies to achieve those goals:

Financial Stewardship: Exercise sound financial management and build Metro’s long term sustainability.
Public Engagement and Transparency: Promote robust public engagement that informs, involves, and empowers people and communities.
Economic Growth and Built Environment: Encourage vibrant, economically thriving and sustainable communities.
Service Excellence: Establish a culture of customer service and deliver services that are responsive to community needs.
Safety: Support safe communities.
Human Potential: Provide equitable opportunities for people from all areas of King County to access the public transportation system.
Environmental Sustainability: Safeguard and enhance King County’s natural resources and environment.
Quality Workforce: Develop and empower Metro’s most valuable asset, its employees.

“These changes implemented by the transit strategic plan reflect the critical reviews that are being made by our local government in an effort to operate in a sustainable and productive way,” said Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer.

“Today’s vote is the result of a collaborative effort and fundamentally changes the way our region delivers transit,” said Councilmember Joe McDermott. “Under this plan, our buses will become more efficient but not at the cost of social equity for those who rely on public transit as their only means of transportation.”

The Strategic Plan embraces regional collaboration through the work of the Regional Transit Committee (RTC), which members include representatives of Seattle and the suburban cities throughout King County. Working with the County Council, the RTC has a key role in the oversight of the Strategic Plan. The Committee would review annual performance of the transit system and against the policies of the plan. Should adjustments be needed, the RTC would work with the Council, County Executive and Metro Transit to provide the policy guidance that enables the goals to be met.

Strategic Plan for Public Transportation 2011-2021
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