West Seattle weighs in on sweeping cuts to public transit

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by HEATHER GRAF / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @HeatherGrafK5

KING5.com

Posted on December 3, 2013 at 11:12 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 4 at 12:09 AM

The debate over proposed cuts to metro bus services, on Tuesday, traveled to one of the neighborhoods that would be hardest hit by the changes.

A grassroots coalition of West Seattle neighbors have said their community could see a 27 percent reduction in routes if the proposed cuts go through. 

"I depend on it every morning," said Brooklyn Lizotte. 

The young mother rides the bus to and from work every day.  She also uses public transit to take her three-year-old to daycare.

"It's really upsetting, i really hope they don't cut these certain buses," she said.  "It's a big deal."

Staff with King County Metro heard that complaint over and over at a public meeting that took place Tuesday evening.

During the two-hour session, they answered questions from riders, displayed maps of the impacted routes, and tried to explain, this is not something they want to do.

"It's a tough message and and we, metro staff, we understand that our services our things that people rely on," one worker explained.  "We look at every route, every stop as something that someone depends on, to get to work, to get to school, to get to medical appointments."

Emergency funding that's currently fueling metro bus services will end in June.  Unless legislative action is taken to find a long term solution to the $75 million annual funding shortfall, King County Metro will have no choice but to cut 17 percent of its bus services.

That equates to about 74 canceled bus routes and revision to 107 other routes.

All of Metro's 400,000 bus riders would be impacted.

"I don't even have a driver's license," said Maddie Gray, who just moved to Seattle from Portland and rides the bus every day.  "I will probably end up having to walk in the rain and get sick."

Tuesday's meeting in West Seattle is the second of several public meetings Metro must hold, to begin the process of informing bus riders of the changes.

Making the cuts even more frustrating to people like Lizotte is the fact that ridership is nearing an all-time high.

"I literally, in the morning, have to stand all the way to downtown," she said of Route 21, one of many routes that would be impacted by the cuts.

Lizotte hopes lawmakers will walk a mile in her shoes before making any decisions about the bus route she calls a lifeline.

The next public meeting is set for Thursday, December 5th and will take place at North Seattle Community College, from 6-8 p.m.

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