Just a few days after a group of women protested the cutting of Metro bus route #139 in Burien, King County on Monday announced that it is considering an expansion of its ‘Alternative Services Program,’ which uses smaller shuttles and vans in areas where bus lines have been cut. Route #139, also known as the ‘Gregory Heights Loop,’ was the only bus that traveled between Highline Medical Center and the Seahurst/Gregory Heights neighborhood. It was a victim of budget cuts the county recently had to make. “In some places it doesn’t always make sense to run a 40-foot bus on a traditional fixed route with infrequent trips,” Executive Dow Constantine said. “Working in partnership with those communities, this new toolbox of alternative services can tailor innovative and cost-effective options that are more responsive to specific local needs.” The proposed expansion of the Alternative Services Program would address reductions and limitations in the current fixed-route network by offering cities and communities several options, including customizable shuttles or vans, ridesharing options and community hubs. The Executive Proposed 2015/2016 Biennial Budget presented this week includes $6 million over two years for cities and communities to consider some combination of funding, staff, volunteers or facilities for operation of targeted transit operations. “As soon as I learned that the Route 139 was on the chopping block, I asked Metro to find some sort of alternative for people in Gregory Heights and Seahurst,” said King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove, a Burien native. “This proposal is an affordable solution that might just work better for those who need transit services the most.” This program builds on Metro’s existing alternative services programs that include Vanpool, VanShare and Community Access Transportation (CAT). In 2013, Metro demonstrated the first community level alternative service project in the Snoqualmie Valley, which created an innovative public/private community shuttle to replace expensive higher cost fixed route service. “We are looking forward to working with King County Metro and other partners to provide crucial service for our residents and businesses, including Highline Medical Center,” added Lucy Krakowiak, Mayor of Burien. Metro is moving forward to cut more transit services in February 2015, and March 2016, bringing service levels within available revenues. Communities where service has been reduced or revised can consider options within the Alternative Services Program to provide replacement service where it works best. The County Council plans a number of public hearings on the Executive Proposed 2015/2016 Biennial Budget and will adopt a final King County Budget in November.]]>