Proposed contract between Seattle, King County to expand bus service goes to King County Council and Seattle City Council for consideration, adoption

Seattle BusContract adoption is the next step for implementation of Seattle voter-approved transit measure and more convenient, more reliable, less crowded bus service in Seattle

To ease bus crowding and improve reliability, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine are moving forward with a major contract to expand Metro Transit bus service in the City of Seattle.

Murray and Constantine yesterday sent the Seattle City Council and King County Council a proposed three-year, $120 million contract to increase bus service, renewable for an additional three years.

Funding for the new service comes from the Seattle Transportation Benefit District Proposition 1 ballot measure approved by Seattle voters in November. The measure will raise an estimated $45 million a year for six years by collecting a 0.1 percent sales tax increase and a $60 annual vehicle fee in the City of Seattle. Read the statement issued by Murray and Constantine.

Under the terms of the proposed contract, Seattle residents would see expanded bus service beginning in June and then again in September. As proposed, the City of Seattle would purchase from Metro additional peak, off-peak, weekend, and night service totaling 223,000 annual service hours in 2015. Planned service improvements draw from needs identified in Metro’s Service Guidelines and Seattle’s Transit Master Plan, and include significant investments in top priority routes that are chronically overcrowded such as the RapidRide C and D Lines serving West Seattle, Downtown and Ballard.

Under the city contract, the voter-approved funding will:

  • Add new buses to all 16 Seattle routes that are chronically overcrowded
  • Fix the schedules of all 48 routes that are chronically unreliable
  • Add frequency to 34 high-demand routes
  • Regularly provide detailed ridership and performance data

The City of Seattle also included $3 million dollars in a partnership program for jurisdictions who are interested in sharing the cost of service for routes that connect with the city. In addition up to $2 million dollars will be used to increase access to Metro Transit’s ORCA LIFT program, its new reduced fare for low-income riders to be implemented in March. Read the details of the proposed investments in Exhibit 1 of the ordinance that was transmitted to council.

Executive Constantine created the framework for the proposed transit service contract last year when he initiated the Community Mobility Contract Program. The City of Seattle is able to contract directly with Metro Transit for service using this program. The Community Mobility Contract Program is intended as a bridge to keep buses on the street until the state legislature provides a sustainable funding tool for local transportation needs.

The contract needs to be adopted by both King County Council and Seattle City Council before investments are made. The next stop for the ordinance is the Transportation Economy and Environment (TrEE) Committee. It is expected that the TrEE Committee will take up the contract at their next meeting Tuesday, January 20, at 9:30 a.m. in Council Chambers on the 10th floor of the King County Courthouse. Meetings of the TrEE Committee are carried live on King County Television on Cable Channel 22, and streamed live through the KCTV Web site.