More buses in Seattle: County Council approves contract for city to purchase additional transit

BusImage223,000 hours of service supported through voter-approved measure

The Metropolitan King County Council yesterday gave its unanimous approval to a contract agreement with the City of Seattle that will allow the city to purchase additional transit service hours from Metro Transit. The approved legislation will implement an increase of 223,000 additional hours of transit service starting in June.

Seattle is the first city in the county to take advantage of Metro’s Community Mobility Contract program allowing cities to purchase additional bus service. Last November, Seattle voters approved a ballot measure generating revenue that would go toward the purchase of increased transit service. The proceeds received from an increase in license tabs and Seattle’s sales tax will go towards bus routes with 80 percent or more of their stops in Seattle.

Metro will add Seattle-funded service hours to routes this June and September.  The investment in service will focus on:

  • Overcrowding. Added bus trips on crowded routes listed in the Metro 2014 Service Guidelines Report – the top priority in the Metro Service Guidelines for adding service. All identified Seattle route needs are included.
  • On-time Performance. Added service hours to improve schedule reliability on bus routes identified as having poor on-time performance in the 2014 Service Guidelines Report – the second highest priority in the Metro Service Guidelines for adding service hours. All identified Seattle route needs are included.
  • Transit Corridors that don’t meet their target service level. Added service hours for some transit corridors that need more service as determined in the 2014 Service Guidelines Report.

Some transit service reductions that had been part of the September 2014 transit service change will be reversed in this agreement: Route 19 peak service will be restored, with five morning and six afternoon peak direction trips; the Route 47 will be partially restored; and Route 27 off-peak and night service will return.

The contract also provides for more service on Metro routes that are identified as priorities in the Seattle Transit Master Plan, a City-generated plan. These investments include peak period, midday, evening, and weekend service. Download a list of all routes that will receive an investment organized by when the service will be added.

The County Council and Seattle City Council included statements identifying crowding and service reliability of Metro routes as ongoing priorities for Seattle investments during the course of the agreement. The Seattle City Council joined the County Council yesterday in approving legislation agreeing to the transit contract.

Seattle is paying for each hour of bus service provided, with the hourly rate reflecting Metro Transit operating costs for each type of bus used. Metro agrees to maintain current bus trips on any route that Seattle invests in. The agreement also defines Metro’s commitment to maintaining the overall service level in areas where bus service is restructured.

The agreement goes until December 31, 2017 and can be extended for another three years, until December 31, 2020. Read full details of the agreement by visiting the King County Council’s LEGISEARCH system and type in “2015-0039” and “2015-0040”.