The City Council Monday expressed support for King County's efforts to make Metro a more efficient transit agency, urging Metro to trim its operational and maintenance costs before resorting to service reductions.
Faced with a projected budget shortfall of $142 million by 2013, the transit agency is expected to propose service cuts that could be implemented as early as June, 2010. Any service reductions or cuts would have to be approved by the King County Council, which is not expected to take any action until county budget discussions get underway late this year.
Bellevue council members said good, dependable transit service is a critical component of the city's overall transportation strategy. Despite a significant increase in local transit ridership in recent years, however, the city has remained underserved by Metro. Service reductions now would only serve to make a bad situation worse, council members said.
"For a number of years now, our city has needed more bus service than it has received," Mayor Grant Degginger said. "Any cuts in service would make it even harder on bus riders and create a greater imbalance in how transit service is allocated."
Besides urging Metro to closely examine its cost structure and identify savings in operations and maintenance, the council urged the agency to:
- Utilize fleet-replacement reserve monies to avoid service cuts. Metro recently announced the fund has about $200 million, and is expected to grow to $300 million by 2025;
- Implement any comprehensive cost saving measures recommended in a performance audit now underway; and
- Retain the Transit Now program as approved by voters in 2006. That program expanded bus service to various parts of Bellevue.
The council also urged Metro to engage cities in a broader discussion of long-term service allocation reform to ensure future decisions support the region's long-range growth vision. Those discussions should include the ferry system, council members said.
"It makes little sense for the county to be going into the ferry business when at the same time it cannot maintain a sufficient level of service for its core function -- bus transit," Degginger said.
Feedback: Diane Carlson, Director of Intergovernmental Relations, 425-452-4225, firstname.lastname@example.org
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