The day after voters approved the largest expansion of bus service in Seattle since the Great Recession, Mayor Ed Murray, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Councilmember Tom Rasmussen celebrated the victory and announced the framework of an agreement on transit funding and service delivery between Seattle and King County.
“As the fastest growing city in America, these investments are a huge step forward,” said Murray. “With this accountability agreement with the county, Seattle residents will know that they are getting value for their investment in Metro service.”
“The message from voters is clear: Seattle riders value Metro Transit, and with this vote, Metro will have the means to deliver more transit for the people of Seattle,” said Constantine, who in May created the program for cities to purchase bus service through Community Mobility Contracts.
The funding approved by voters will make key routes in Seattle less crowded, more reliable, and more convenient. A full service plan will be made available in the spring. As expanded service rolls out in June and September of 2015, Metro will:
- Add new buses to all 16 Seattle routes that are chronically overcrowded
- Fix the schedules of all 48 routes that are chronically unreliable
- Add frequency to 28 high-demand routes
“With these investments Seattle will have the best bus service in the history of our city,” said Rasmussen. “I’m grateful to the voters for approving this much needed expansion and can’t wait for the new service to start.”
Wednesday, the City of Seattle and King County announced the elements of a proposed Community Mobility Contract to govern Seattle’s investment in bus service improvements and ensure accountability. The agreement will be submitted for approval to the City and County Councils by the end of the year.
The proposed agreement will:
- Require robust ridership and performance data reporting by Metro
- Allow independent third-party audits of Metro’s cost allocation process and service data
- Reduce City responsibility for county administrative overhead
- Credit Seattle for higher fare box revenue produced on city trolleybus routes
- Pay only the annual share of new buses required for increased service
- Protect against supplanting
A new operating reserve fund will reduce the likelihood of cuts in service in Seattle if system revenues fall as a result a future economic downturn. Each year, $3.5 million will be added to the fund for future needs.
The Seattle Department of Transportation’s new Transit Division will provide additional oversight to ensure that Seattle’s investments are supporting improved service on the city’s highest-priority routes.
In October, SDOT began rolling out a series of other transit-related investments that will help speed bus riders to their destinations. The city is making additional infrastructure investments to support the efficiency of the system, including:
- New bus lanes and extended bus lane hours;
- More red-painted transit lanes to help educate car drivers;
- New bus-only signals and signal upgrades;
- Real-time arrival information so that riders can plan their journeys.
“I don’t have a car, so I depend on transit to go shopping, get to the doctor and visit friends and family,” said Marci Carpenter, a transit advocate and frequent bus rider. “Nobody likes to wait in the rain for a bus only to have it pass you by because it’s overcrowded. For me, more frequent, reliable bus service from West Seattle is going to make it easier and more affordable to live in the city.”