People from Queen Anne, Magnolia and Daybreak Star testified before the Metropolitan King County Council on May 13 to save Metro bus services.
After a major funding shortfall and failed Proposition 1, King County Metro is cutting Metro bus services. In the latest proposal, cuts were scaled back to 550,000 hours, instead of 600,000 hours.
The group listened to testimony from about 85 people. One woman warned the council that the crowd was “deceptively small,” adding, “People are tired of trying to scramble to save services.”
Civil rights, Title VI violation?
Large numbers of people representing Daybreak Star (5011 Bernie Whitebear Way) testified in favor of keeping the route No. 33 service as is. Under the new proposal, No. 33 service will be reduced. Currently, the route ends at the north parking lot of Discovery Park near Daybreak Star.
The new loop would go clockwise on 28th, Gilman, 22nd and Thorndyke avenues West. The bus would come more often during peak hours, about every 20 minutes, as opposed to 30 minutes now. During midday, it would come every 30 minutes, and every 60 minutes on nights and weekends. In the new service plan, the nearest stop would be approximately 1.6 miles away from Daybreak Star.
Shawn Middelton testified, “The Native community are invisible members of your community.”
In his work with Native people, he said bus tickets are like gold. One of the stated goals of Metro is to not negatively impact minorities, but cutting No. 33 would do just that, he argued.
Daybreak Star is the community’s last gathering place, and its elderly members cannot walk to get there, he said.
“Please stand up for our people,” he said. “Think about us: the invisible people in your city.”
United Indians of All Tribes board member Fern Renville told the county council members she has made a personal commitment to not own a car. She and others from Daybreak Star, especially kids who come for summer camps, rely on the No. 33’s service.
“[Daybreak Star] is one place where we can come together as a community,” she said. “No one contacted Daybreak Star [about the cuts] — that was a complete oversight.”
Another man representing Daybreak Star said the center is the last refuge they have in their community. “You don’t see us,” he said, “so you should at least see us on this.”
Pamela and Chris Stearns also called for reliable bus No. 33 service, saying the decision to ignore the route’s riders, who are “overwhelmingly Native,” may be a violation of civil rights. Chris, a former chairman of the Seattle Human Rights Commission, said cutting service to No. 33 may be in violation of Title VI. Title VI, of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibits programs that receive federal financial assistance from discriminating based on race, color or national origin; if a program is found guilty of this, it could lose its funding.
James McIntosh, a visually impaired man who relies on the bus, spoke against the cuts to Magnolia bus service. Magnolia has already had to deal with cuts to nighttime buses, against which McIntosh and other community members organized a march in March 2013. The march aimed to show what it’s like to have to walk the hills in Magnolia to farther-away stops when nearby bus services are unavailable.
“We need to get tough with the Legislature and get money for transit that’s unconditional,” he said. “[Funding] that we don’t have to vote on over and over again.”
Jim Sullivan, who rides bus No. 3, called for service to not be rerouted to Seattle Pacific University (SPU). Through this route change, “efficiency is gained [but] access is sacrificed,” he said.
He also asked that the stop adjacent to David Rogers Park (2800 First Ave. W.) remain a stop on route No. 3. If it is cut like proposed, people would be forced to walk down to the stop on Third Avenue West, which has a 15-percent grade and no sidewalk, he said.
Many community members called for regional or state income tax, a continued look at efficiency, continued service for the suburbs and corporations benefiting from tax breaks to help support the system.
Unless funding is secured, the first phases of these bus cuts will begin in September 2014.
To see all of the bus route changes in Queen Anne and Magnolia, visit metro.kingcounty.gov/am/future/proposed-changes.html#routes_1-50.
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