Buses get short-term reprieve from state
by Jack Mayne
The danger of widespread cancellation of local Metro bus service is still looming, but major cuts this year in South King County have been relieved by a Washington transportation department decision to continue “to provide funding for transit service as mitigation for impacts to drivers during construction of SR 99 in Seattle.”
That means that the bus service has succeeded in cutting traffic on the Alaskan Way Viaduct especially by travelers from Burien and West Seattle into downtown and further north.
“This is great news for everyone who commutes on the SR99 corridor, especially those coming from West Seattle and Burien,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “Viaduct mitigation has reduced traffic and increased transit use, and will continue to help manage the impacts of construction on businesses and the traveling public.”
King County Councilmember Joe McDermott noted the “wildly successful mitigation service has moved more people through the Alaskan Way Viaduct while reducing the vehicles using it. As a C Line commuter, I am pleased the state is continuing the funding as the project continues.”
The state money began in 2010, said state Secretary of Transportation Lynn Peterson, and was slated to end this year.
“Our investment in transit service has led to a 42 percent increase in ridership on the routes where new service was added,” Peterson said in a letter to Constantine. “Transit ridership has also grown significantly, increasing by more than 40 percent since 2009. This increase in ridership has provided capacity on SR 99 and city streets to ensure people and goods can still move to and through downtown Seattle during this complex and multi-year project.”
The additional money to Metro will be extended by WSDOT until the end of 2015 so the added level of transit service will continue.
Then the problems may be different, but they will return to plague the bus service unless and until a permanent and expanded way to finance the regional bus service is found, say Constantine and others. So far, legislators from outside the Seattle area have shown little interest in helping area voters find that revenue.