County considers expanding cost-effective transit options for local communities

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Executive Constantine and Councilmember Dembowski say Alternative Services Program would use less-expensive shuttles, vans and other options to keep people moving

King County is considering an expansion of its successful Alternative Services Program, to enable Metro to team up with local cities and communities on development of better transit service in areas of the county where traditional fixed-route bus service cannot be operated cost-effectively.

“In some places it doesn’t always make sense to run a 40-foot bus on a traditional fixed route with infrequent trips,” said Executive Constantine. “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 announced 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.

"We are working to make Metro Transit into a national leader on innovative transportation options for our residents.  These creative proposals are a down payment on a flexible, nimble, customer-driven future in our region that leverages public and private partnerships to maximize convenient mobility,” said King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski, chair of the Council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee.

This program builds on the successes of 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.

Metro is moving forward to cut transit service beginning on September 27. Additional transit service reductions have been proposed by Metro for February 2015 and March 2016. 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 is holding four public hearings on the Executive Proposed 2015-2016 Biennial Budget and will adopt a final King County Budget in November.


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