Recent queries about Rapid Ride expansion and the state funding mess — a matter of politics and budgeting issues — have put Metro Transit and our local bus service back in the news.
I, like many of you, ride the Route 11 East Madison bus, and use Metro for work, shopping and appointments. Our bus service has seen a few improvements over the years: air conditioning, no more loops to West Seattle, some faster service during peak hours (funded by the City of Seattle), and added Sunday morning service. But you’re in real trouble if you expect Metro to meet its published schedule, and reliability hasn’t improved despite the fact that the #11 no longer goes to West Seattle.
I inquired about our level of service and the expansion of RapidRide on East Madison recently, and here is what I found.
Several years ago I attended a Metro presentation on a plan to replace our bus with RapidRide, but given everything I’ve been able to learn from Metro, Madison Valley and Madison Park are no longer included in the plans. RapidRide would have offered us 15-minute service and route changes but the change would also have resulted in fewer bus stops — this is how they speed up service! One has only to look at the distance between bus stops on MLK to see the problem.
The biggest challenge for Metro today is the 17% revenue shortfall. Route 11 is on the list of lines that may face reduced service as early as next year. Since the state funding has not come through, King County may have no other options but to reduce service. There have been four fare increases in the last few years. Service cuts and fare increases could mean more people forced into cars — causing more traffic congestion in Seattle!
Online services such as OneBusAway for smart phones have helped when the service was up and receiving reliable bus locations from Metro. For those in Madison Park, this service loses the bus once it is in the Park and only starts working when the bus is about a minute from your stop. Thankfully, OneBusAway works for other East Madison bus stops.
So the question is, if you ride the bus, can you deal with reduced bus service on the 11 and all areas Metro services? Several years ago at a Metro presentation, one attendee was fine if the bus didn’t show or was late — her response was to take a good book for reading. I know this won’t do for those who use the bus to get to work or appointments!
This is not the time to be reducing bus service in Seattle, especially since so many of us today are dependent on it. We must be working together to improve service such as offering 20-minute service on the #11 all day, rather than 15-minute service during peak and 30-minute in off peak.
I feel that the Community Councils that represent the communities on East Madison should be working together with King County Metro and the City of Seattle to insure that we maintain a usable level of service and not go the route of Pierce County transit. I must also ask, why is the City of Seattle working on the expansion of street cars lines on Broadway and elsewhere when Metro is facing a 17% cut in funding and service?
What do the communities on East Madison have to say about their bus service?