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Transit cuts in Renton not as bad as orginally thought

Ron Ovadenko makes his case before the King County Council
Ron Ovadenko makes his case before the King County Council's Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee's public hearing May 20 in Renton.
— image credit: Brian Beckley, Renton Reporter

A new analysis of planned Metro service cuts following the failure of the Prop. 1 funding measure shows Renton set to lose some service but not as much as originally thought.

With a county-wide change from 600,000 service hours originally planned to be cut dropping to a new total of 550,000 hours cut, Renton is set to get two of the planned deleted routes back.

The cut reduces transit service by a total of 16 percent.

Though originally slated for deletion, Route 105 and Route 908DART now remain unchanged in the latest service proposal.

However, several routes that serve Renton are still scheduled for deletion, including the 110, 161, 167, 280, and 909DART.

According to the city’s analysis, the 110, which runs from the Longacres Sounder Station through the Renton Transit Center and up to the Kenworth/Paccar plant runs 10 trips each way coinciding with the Sounder trains, but was scheduled for deletion when the RapidRide F line begins operation early next month.

The 161 is a peak-hour weekday-only service from the East Hill of Kent to Seattle. It passes through Renton via 108th Avenue Southeast, Carr Road, Lind Avenue and Grady Way. Instead, riders will have to use route 169 which has connections to Seattle through the Renton Transit Center, though the overall trip time will likely increase because of a transfer.

Route 280 is a night-owl service around Lake Washington, including Renton. It only operates two trips nightly in the early morning hours. No other fixed route options would be available to third-shifters and night owls.

The 908DART route operates weekdays and Saturdays and runs from Downtown Renton to Renton Highlands (south of Sunset Boulevard), Renton Technical College and the Maplewood neighborhood. The 105 could provide an alternative for some, but it may require longer walks or drives to transit stops.

The 909DART runs from downtown to the Highlands (north of Sunset) and Kennydale. The 105 and 240 may provide an alternative for some, but again, longer walks to stops will most likely be necessary.

Revisions would also be necessary to the following Metro routes: 106, 107, 111, 114, 143 EX, 148, 240, and 907DART.

The King County Council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee hosted a series of three public hearing in the past few weeks to gauge community response to the plan.

At the final meeting Tuesday evening in Renton, about 25 residents from around the region turned out to plead the case for their routes and make suggestions about where to find extra revenue.

The committee opened with a presentation about the transit provider’s revenue problems and the need to make reduction. According to the presentation, Metro has made $798 million in cuts in recent years, including 100 employees, to help bring costs in line, but it is still not enough. The agency has also made four fare increases with a fifth scheduled for next year at a total revenue increase of $145 million.

The total ongoing annual savings, according to the presentation, is $148 million per year.

The reduction plan will be phased in in four steps, beginning in September.

The route that garnered the most attention on Tuesday was the 167, which runs to UW.

Betsy Bradsby of Maple Valley told the committee she uses that route everyday as her commute.

“There’s no reasonable alternative to this route,” she said, asking the council to look at their cost structure again and try to save the 167, as did at least one other speaker.

Other speakers spoke on behalf of their routes, including Ron Ovadenko of Renton, who uses a wheelchair to get around and said he uses Metro all the time. Though his primary route is not scheduled for deletion, Ovadenko told the council he might be affected by others cuts to routes he uses, such as those for medical appointments.

“More can be done,” he told the committee.

“Your voices do matter,” said Councilman Dave Upthegrove after the testimony. “It may be only a 15 percent cut, but if it’s your route, it’s a 100 percent cut.”

Councilman Rod Dembowski took notes through the meeting and said he would be working to address concerns of the riders, as well as alternatives to try and raise revenue.

“We are looking at everything we can,” he said. “But we really have a tough row to hoe.”

Dembowski said he expects the September cuts to go forward, but hopes something can be worked out before the other phases kick in and said he would like to see an outside auditor take a look at the books as well.

“It’s my hope that we delay the other three quarters (of cuts) while we look for revenue and efficiencies,” he said. “It’s not a fait accompli.”

For detailed information on the changes, visit metro.kingcounty.gov.

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