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Bus route spared after public outcry; Metro adjustments enacted

Public outcry may rescue a popular South Seattle bus line. An amendment to the transit re-alignment plan passed by the King County council late Monday afternoon has temporarily spared the route.

Ten other bus lines that are considered inefficient have been eliminated.

It’s the first phase of a voter-approved plan to make King County's  Metro Transit agency more efficient.

Recent changes to bus service have angered and upset many low-income residents of South Seattle and the non-profit groups that represent them.

They filled a King County council meeting with sullen faces and protest signs. Above all, they came asking for a restoration of bus line 42.

The first man to speak on the issue made a comparison to Rosa Park’s fight for social justice, “where she was told to get to the end of the bus. Here, metro is telling the people – there is no bus!”

One woman said new alternatives like Link Light Rail aren’t fully accessible for the disabled. Another, from the tenants union, complained about changes causing long distances between stops, in crime-ridden areas. Another said though she’s a frequent customer at Whole Foods, she thinks too much money is going to inefficient trolley lines serving expensive areas like  South Lake Union, where, Group Health Cooperative and Paul Allen's development company, Vulcan, are headquartered.

After a recess, council members came back with an amendment that puts off cutting bus line 42 till winter 2013.  

Over the next year, the council members promise to research alternatives, with lots of community involvement and multilingual outreach.

After much debate, the amendment passed – along with the rest of the plan eliminating the 10 other bus lines that have been deemed inefficient. 

It also re-designs many others, to fit in with new alternatives -  and puts more money toward improvements, such as shiny new RapidRide buses that are now serving some suburbs.

It’s the first phase of a voter-approved plan for these re-alignments, along with the temporary hike of the car tab fee, to close a gaping hole in King County metro’s budget, brought on by the great recession.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment beat for KNKX, where she has worked since 1999. From 2000-2012, she covered the business and labor beat. Bellamy has a deep interest in Indigenous affairs and the Salish Sea. She has a masters in journalism from Columbia University.