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With Cuts Looming, Transportation Officials Looking At Ways To Streamline Services

Ted S. Warren
AP Photo
FILE - A light rail train is seen from the cab of another train during a test ride of SoundTransit's new light rail line from downtown Seattle to a station near the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Tukwila, Washington.

It’s a curious time for transit riders in King County. New services like streetcars and light rail are being built. But several waves of bus cuts are looming, and transportation officials are working to streamline transportation efforts in the region.

For some, the bus situation in King County is looking desperate. This month, 151,000 hours will be cut, and more cuts are coming in February.  But King County Executive Dow Constantine says he’s looking at all the players in the region — transit operators from Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap counties — to solve problems together.

“Henceforth, I want us to plan as one agency. I want us to sit down at the table to put all of our resources to the center to ask the single question: How can we best serve our public? What in planning do we need to do to move the most people most efficiently?” Constantine said.

Constantine is putting forward a plan to integrate regional agencies.  He’s looking to consolidate redundant routes and find ways to collaborate on a range of things from rider alerts to security.  And he promises to make it easier for riders to move seamlessly from one system to another.

“If you’re an occasional transit user, it is difficult and [it] should not be. So we can fix that, but that is the absolute tip of the iceberg. The real money is in long-range planning for rail lines, new high capacity bus routes and the feeder service to connect them,” Constantine said.

Long-range planning aside, there are other, urgent maneuvers in the works. Seattle voters will be facing a November ballot initiative to restore bus service in the city.