Yes, indeed, the 47 will come back. Seattle transit riders will reap relatively immediate benefits from Tuesday’s Election Night tally signaling approval of a new Seattle Transportation Benefit District. Officials announced Wednesday that upgrades, fixes, and restoration of service to King County Metro bus lines serving the city will be rolled out in June and September of 2015.
The new district funding will drive three areas of immediate improvement:
- 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
“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,” King County Exec Dow Constantine said in a statement detailing the next steps in the district’s creation.
Here’s how the improvements will roll out:
- More buses on all 16 routes that are chronically overcrowded: Routes C, D, 5, 8, 15X, 16, 18X, 28, 40, 41, 44, 48, 70, 71X, 72, and 74X
- Revised schedules on all 48 routes that are chronically unreliable: Routes C, D, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 14, 16, 17X, 18X, 21X, 21, 24, 25, 26X, 26, 27, 28X, 28, 29, 31, 32, 33, 37, 40, 41, 43, 44, 48, 49, 55, 56, 57, 60, 64X, 66X, 70, 71, 72, 74X, 76, 83, and 99
- Better frequency with more trips per hour on at least 28 high demand routes: C, D, 2, 5, 7, 8, 9X, 10, 11, 12, 14, 16, 24/33, 25, 27, 30, 31/32, 40, 41, 44, 47, 48, 49, 60, 66X/67, 68, 70/71X/72X/73X/74X, 68, and 125
You’ll note Route 47, our poster girl for the previously hamstrung Metro budget, is listed as a “high demand route” slated for “better frequency.” After the 47 made its “last run” back in September, any frequency at all will be an upgrade.
Seattle Transportation Benefit District Proposition 1 asked Seattle voters if they wanted to buy back sliced Metro services in Seattle and improve existing routes with a $60 annual vehicle license fee and .1% sales tax hike. The measure is expected generate around $45 million annually. The Seattle Times reports the sales tax hike will likely go into effect by spring with the car tab change coming later in summer.
The district will expand the hours of frequent service on more than 20 routes and will add Saturday, Sunday, or night service every 30 minutes “to other routes that do not currently have service at those times.”
As part of the district, the City of Seattle and King County will forge a “Community Mobility Contract” with the following elements, according to a statement on the agreement:
- 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
The district will also create a new operating reserve fund that “will reduce the likelihood of cuts in service in Seattle if system revenues fall as a result a future economic downturn.” $3.5 million will be annually added to the fund.
The Seattle Department of Transportation is also staffing a new Transit Division to “provide additional oversight” over the district.
“As the fastest growing city in America, these investments are a huge step forward,” Mayor Ed Murray said. “With this accountability agreement with the county, Seattle residents will know that they are getting value for their investment in Metro service.”
“With these investments Seattle will have the best bus service in the history of our city,” City Council transportation committee chair Tom Rasmussen said. “I’m grateful to the voters for approving this much needed expansion and can’t wait for the new service to start.”