Overflow audience at County Council calls for preservation of Metro service

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The audience who came to Tuesday’s meeting of the Metropolitan King County Council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee sent a clear message: the impact of a reduction in Metro Transit service will be felt throughout the region and should not be allowed to happen.

More than 350 people filled the Sound Transit Boardroom and the hall at Union Station to call on the Council and the State Legislature to find the funding needed to keep the transit system at its current levels. Hundreds of comments—in person, via comment sheets, and on line—were received during the meeting, with the overwhelming majority calling for maintaining current transit service.

“Today's public meeting displayed the broad coalition of supporters advocating for permanent and stable funding for our transit system,” said Councilmember Rod Dembowski. “As Chair of the Regional Transit Committee, I am working with this coalition to avoid gridlock, keep people and goods moving, and our regional economy growing.”

Due to a lack of sustainable revenue, Metro is facing the potential loss of 600,000 hours of transit service. Absent action from the legislature, King County will begin seeking input this fall on how to cut 17 percent of Metro’s transit service starting in 2014.

Prior to the public testimony, committee members heard from a panel composed of transit stakeholders from the business, environment, social services, and education sectors, who spoke about the impact a 17 percent cut in transit service could have on the region.

“We are at a crossroads. As demand continues to increase and the economy improves, we should be increasing service and providing more transportation choices,” said Metro Transit General Manager Kevin Desmond. “However, unless we obtain new funding, we will put plans in place this fall to begin reducing service in 2014.”

The testimony from the more than 160 people at the 3-hour meeting focused on the long-term effect the potential cuts would have on their lives.

“Transit is how students get to class, get to the jobs that pay their tuition.  It is how they connect to their community as volunteers, advocates, and participants in civic life,” said Josh Kavanagh, the University of Washington’s Director of Transportation.  “Allowing our transit network to be dismantled will place yet one more barrier on the path to prosperity for students and for all our fellow citizens–at a time when we should be clearing that path to encourage and support economic recovery.”


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