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Redmond Officials Express Concern Over Bus Cuts Scenario

King County's Metro transit agency will soon implement new service allocation guidelines to cope with a decline in revenue.

Members of the Redmond City Council voiced their concern Tuesday over a proposed scenario that would cut Redmond's Metro bus service hours by 21 percent.

The scenario is one example of how Metro could decide to apply a set of proposed service allocation guidelines to cope with a budget shortage that is expected to amount to at least 600,000 total service hours. As Metro officials , the shortfall is equivalent to all of the agency's service on the Eastside or all of its weekend service system-wide.

Nina Rivkin, the city's chief policy adviser, presented the proposed scenario to the Redmond City Council at Tuesday's council study session. Under the proposal, East King County's existing service would be cut by 22 percent, while the county's southern and western portions would see reductions of 18 and 15 percent, respectively.

City officials said the cuts would amount to a 21 percent reduction of current service levels in Redmond. Of the 600,000 hours that are likely to be eliminated, the proposed scenario calls for East King County to bear 22 percent of the total reduction, whereas South and West King County, which includes the City of Seattle, would contribute a respective 23 and 55 percent of the cuts.

City Council President Richard Cole said he believes the proposed scenario disproportionately favors Seattle over the Eastside and would be a disservice to Redmond residents.

“I don’t think this council is doing their 54,000 bosses a very good (service) by supporting this in any shape, form or variety,” he said.

Rivkin said Metro formed the proposed scenario using three considerations: route productivity, geographic value and social equity. Of those three, Rivkin said route productivity, as measured in rides per platform per hour and passenger miles per platform per hour, is being given top priority.

Several council members expressed concern that route productivity was being over-emphasized and does not take into account the revenue the agency receives per platform per hour. All Metro rides from the City of Seattle into another jurisdiction within King County are considered two-zone trips and are thus more expensive during peak travel hours.

"I just feel like we're set up here," Councilman John Stilin said. "There are formulas that can come up with any answer you want."

According to the proposed scenario, Redmond's peak-hour commuter routes into urban centers in Seattle would bear the most cuts, followed by local routes that serve low- and medium-density areas. Local routes that offer frequent service and have higher productivity levels would see the least impact.

In total, Redmond's peak commuter routes would be reduced by 49 percent under the proposed scenario. Rivkin said Metro officials expect those trips to be picked up by existing Sound Transit routes.

"In Redmond, those peak commuters operated by Metro have very low productivity. They're in the bottom 25 percent of productivity for routes," she said. "We were told by Metro that they verified that Sound Transit had the capacity, that if Metro were to do away with a route and people would be relying on Sound Transit instead, that there was capacity on those routes to accommodate the riders."

King County's Regional Transit Committee, of which Redmond City Councilwoman Kimberly Allen is a member, will vote on the proposed plan in June. The King County Council is expected to adopt new service guidelines later this summer.

Click here to view footage of Tuesday's meeting on the city's website.

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