Efficiency

It’s a tricky thing in transit planning.

Do you cater to the few who absolutely demand transit and provide them with excellent and accessible frequent transit, or do you try to cater to the masses, regardless of whether or not they’ve asked for transit service?

Case in point, the current debate in King County (WA). In short, King County Metro faces severe cuts to service unless a $20 Congestion Reduction Charge is approved by the county commissioners as a stop-gap measure until the state can approve a new or better source of funding. (Take a peek at SeattleTransitBlog.com for more in-depth coverage about this.) A problem that King County Metro has is the size of the area it serves. Except for the uninhabited areas in the east part of the county, Metro has routes serving the entire county. The pro to this is it opens the opportunities for people everywhere in King County to go where they need without relying a car. The con is that it costs money. A lot of it. One of the biggest examples of this is Route 209, which runs from North Bend to Issaquah. It is a very infrequent route (on average it runs once every 1.5 hours),  and has a very low ridership. But, there are people using it. However, in an effort to conserve resources during these difficult financial times, many have proposed it would be better to cut this route and use the saved resources to serve people where there is much higher demand. And that is where the hard decisions begin. Do the low-ridership routes get cut in an effort to streamline the agency’s resources, or do all routes suffer the same cutbacks so that nobody will be completely cut off from their lives?

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