Rebecca Slivka was standing the middle of the meeting room at the Queen Anne Community Center Feb. 23 and she was livid.
Proposed changes to Bus Route No. 2 would force her 84-year-old mother, Enid, to walk a number of blocks to get the bus.
“This is ridiculous,” Slivka said. “They won’t admit it, but they are saying that they can improve their times by making us walk a little further. That’s just not right.”
Slivka was one of more than 100 people who gathered at the community to voice their concerns about various bus route changes that King County Metro is proposing for this coming fall.
Some routes will be eliminated, others modified in various ways. King County Metro is proposing the changes in an attempt to better serve their riders and to reduce coverage in areas where buses are not being ridden. The introduction of the RapidRide lines and associated service adjustments will allow Metro to improve bus connections to jobs, shopping and other destinations – places in and around Seattle that have grown and changed over the years. Many bus routes serving these areas have not been adjusted for more than a decade.
The most controversial route this night appeared to be route No. 2. This bus ranges far and wide, from Madrona Park on Lake Washington Boulevard through Pill Hill, downtown Seattle, Seattle Center and up Queen Anne Avenue North and over to West Raye Street.
Everyone from senior citizens to young professionals were complaining about the proposed changes to this linchpin bus to so many parts of the city.
Nell Beedle remained unimpressed with the claims of Metro trying to make the bus routes more efficient. Instead, she started her own silent protest in the room, holding up one sign that read, “Making me walk another half mile to catch the bus does NOT improve my trip efficiency.”
However, by the evening’s end Metro officials had announced that the plans for changing route no. 2 were currently off the table.
One particular change that has caused some criticism in Magnolia is proposed modifications to route No. 24. According to Metro’s proposal, the bus No. 24 would no longer travel on West Viewmont Way West or 28th Avenue West. However, Viewmont won’t be abandoned as many riders originally feared. Bus No. 19 would serve Viewmont less frequently and bus No. 33 would serve 28th Avenue West, also fewer times during the day than in the past.
Metro officials point out that their service guidelines call for them to examine and consider changes for routes that score in the bottom 25 percent in one or both of the measures Metro uses to rate performance: rides per platform hour and passenger miles per platform mile.
Route no. 24 is in the bottom 25 percent in both categories.
Jack Latteman of King County Metro Transit division spent the evening furiously writing down notes and comments from mostly angry bus riders worried or irritated about changes to their routes.
One of those irritated riders was Magnolia’s Charlotte Abbott, who complained about changes to Bus No. 24 and also told Latteman that not a single shuttle came up Bus Route No. 24 during this winter’s snowstorm.
“We’ve gotten a lot of strong reactions,” Latteman said. “People care about their bus routes.”
Latteman said he and the staff would have one more public comment meeting being held Feb. 29 at Washington Middle School, 2101 South Jackson St. Then the staff would spend the next three to four weeks looking over the comments. They will make recommendations to King County Executive Down Constantine. The County Council will then get the executive’s proposal in April. There will be a public hearing in front of the County Council in late April. Council will vote on the proposal in May.