Washington Policy Center calls on King County leaders to protect bus services

May 5, 2014

Erica C. Barnett over at Publicola criticizes Washington Policy Center for proposing ways King County leaders can protect Metro bus service from the cuts they plan to impose on local communities. Erica doesn’t like our ideas for saving bus service (and that’s ok), but she doesn’t offer any of her own.

Erica’s airy dismissal of positive solutions may give her a comfortable feeling of sardonic detachment, but she may not realize how cruelly these harsh cuts will fall on the most vulnerable people living in our communities.

Recent news reports show how County Executive Dow Constantine’s plan to cut bus service would cause real pain to real people.

“I get off work at 10 p.m.  If it [Route 71 bus service] stops before 7, I have no way of getting home...I don’t own a car, so the only way I have to get around the city is the buses,” said Catherine Menkel-Lawrence.

“...I’m hoping to be going downtown for a job.  And then I would depend on the bus every day,” said Sara Drescher, who also rides Route 71.

“My son’s bus to school will now be going away,” tweeted neighborhood activist Renee Staton after Proposition 1 failed.

“Cutting bus service would hit poor people the hardest,” and, “loss of transportation options perpetuates the poverty cycle,” reported Goldy in The Stranger.

Councilmember Larry Phillips called cutting the bus system, “the most regressive action we can take,” and he noted cuts would, “leave our students, our elderly and disabled neighbors, and working families stranded.”

Executive Constantine said bus service is important for people who have no alternative “to get that education, get to work, support their families, and move up the economic ladder.”

April Putney of Futurewise and the pro-Proposition 1 campaign said, “We think these cuts suck...they would just leave people stranded.”

Proposition 1 failed, and advocates have noted how devastating the service cuts of the County’s Plan would be.  That is why Washington Policy Center is urging King County officials to act to protect our communities. Executive Constantine himself said, “We welcome and encourage efforts that would protect bus service and avoid major disruption to our riders.”

Washington Policy Center recommendations are intended to suggest constructive ways officials can protect a core public service and avoid the pain and disruption severe bus cuts will impose on communities across King County.  Our ideas are based on Metro’s own budget documents, and even if they don’t provide a total solution, County leaders should at least start somewhere.

Erica says, “Transit planning sure is harder than it looks.”  Two responses.  First, if King County Metro leaders feel they can’t manage rising revenues without cutting service maybe we need different leaders.  Second, while managing a large transit agency is hard, life is even harder when government officials take away your neighborhood bus service.