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King County Executive News

King County Executive News
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July 11, 2011

Executive praises Council for unanimously adopting Metro Transit service reforms

New Transit Strategic Plan will enable Metro to carry more riders for each hour of service, and help support region’s job growth and economic recovery

King County Executive Dow Constantine praised members of the Metropolitan King County Council for today's unanimous adoption of the Executive's proposed reforms for making Metro Transit service more productive and efficient.

"With today's Council action we can now put old political divisions and arbitrary boundaries, as embodied in the 40/40/20 policy, in the past," said Executive Constantine. "When we set out to create a fairer and more productive framework to guide future investments in bus service, some said it couldn't be done. But working with a broad coalition countywide we have created a national model for transparency and data-driven delivery of transit service."

The "Strategic Plan for Public Transportation 2011-2021" approved today identifies specific actions and performance outcomes in areas such as service quality, financial stability, transparency and accountability to the public. When combined with other actions, the plan will allow Metro to carry more riders for each hour of service offered, which will boost productivity and help preserve transit service for thousands of riders.

The transit strategic plan is based upon recommendations made by the Regional Transit Task Force, a broad coalition of transit stakeholders from throughout the region appointed by the Executive. The task force unanimously called for setting priorities that guide how decisions are made on service reductions or service growth, and working with the Legislature on a more stable source of funding for public transit.

Over the past few years, King County Metro has cut costs and increased fares. But more than 60 percent of Metro's operating funds come from an unstable source: sales tax revenue. With consumers spending less over the past few years, Metro's income has plunged and can no longer sustain current levels of service.

Despite creating many savings and efficiencies, Metro still faces an ongoing annual shortfall of about $60 million. Without a new source of revenue, Metro will have to make deep service cuts to live within its means.

The Executive is working with regional leaders, legislators and the Governor on a long-term funding solution for statewide transportation needs; for the short-term, to help Metro develop a sustainable financial future, the Executive has proposed interim two-year funding for public transit, under authority for a Congestion Relief Charge recently granted by the State Legislature.

The transit strategic plan will provide key policy guidance in shaping the Executive's biennial budget for Metro, to be proposed later this year.

To read the Strategic Plan for Public Transportation 2011-2021, visit http://metro.kingcounty.gov/planning