UPDATE: QACC meeting Wednesday includes public comment on Metro routes 3 and 4

Route 4UPDATE: the QACC agenda did not include the date. A QACC member has confirmed the date is Wednesday, July 6th.

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In spite of the long holiday weekend, business as usual continues for many, including the Queen Anne Community Council. The QACC meets Wednesday at 7:30pm at Queen Anne Manor (100 Crockett St). Although the comment period for cuts to King County Metro routes 3 and 4 has concluded, the QACC will be able to take comments tonight and provide them as input.

Here’s tonight’s agenda, the meeting is open to all:

7:30-Adoption of Agenda, Approval of minutes, Treasurer’s Report

7:35 – Open Forum – comments from the attendees

7:45 – Metro Service/Route 3 & 4 changes- Katie Chalmers, Jack Whisner

8:15 -6th Ave W Street End Improvement- Diane Walsh, Shannon Glass

8:45 – Uptown rezoning report- Rick Hopper, Uptown Alliance

8:55 – QACC annual election committee

8:50 – Committee Reports

9:25 – New Business

Proposed cuts possibly coming to Metro Route 4, accepting public comments by June 24th

Route 4Thanks to readers, we were alerted to signage on the Metro Route 4 bus stops located on East Queen Anne. If you’re a frequent rider of Route 4 outbound to downtown, and catch the bus east of Queen Anne Ave N, there are proposed changes that will impact your future travel plans.

I contacted King County Metro, and there was a slight disconnect in their messaging. The signs went up at the stops before any information was provided to the public. However, they have remedied the situation and published a blog post that outlines the proposed new routes and the rationale behind the changes.

You can read the full blog post here, and these are the critical need-to-know items:

Metro is proposing that routes 3 and 4 combine on the same pathway between Queen Anne Avenue North at Boston Street and SPU via 3rd Ave West.

Per Metro, this change:

  • Increases service between Seattle Pacific University and downtown Seattle from two trips to six trips per hour. Riders would have the choice of routes 3, 4 or 13 – whichever comes first – to make connections.
  • Better connects Queen Anne to the University District. Riders would have less wait time between buses when connecting between the 3, 4 or 13 and routes 31 and 32 that provide service to the U District, UW, U Village, and Seattle Children’s.
  • Responds to concerns from residents along the neighborhood “loops” of the route 3 and 4 who have expressed concern about idling diesel buses at times, particularly on weekends, when Metro uses diesel buses in place of trolley buses to operate the service.

With the change, Routes 3 and 4 will only operate along arterials. Metro estimates that the portion of the routes that will be removed will affect 120-135 people.

If King County Council approves the change, it would be implemented in March of 2017.

Metro is accepting comments until June 24, 2016. Contact Metro’s Supervisor of Service Planning Katie Chalmers at katie.chalmers@kingcounty.gov or (206) 477-5869.

You can also attend the following meetings where King County Metro representatives will be on hand. NOTE: the QACC meeting falls after the comment period.

Below is the map of the proposed route changes:

Joint Queen Anne and Magnolia meeting to discuss proposed Metro bus service cuts

Metro CutsIf you are concerned or impacted by the proposed changes and cuts to Metro bus service, you can attend a joint meeting hosted by the Queen Anne Community Council and Magnolia Community Club this Thursday at 7pm.

At the meeting, the two neighborhood groups will be facilitating a discussion on a plan to maintain bus service to Queen Anne and Magnolia. For Queen Anne, route 4 is on the chopping block and route 2 and route 13 will be combined into one route.

Key discussion questions include:

  • Will the east side of Queen Anne lose its bus route altogether? (Route 4)
  • Will Magnolia residents lose all bus service to UW?
  • Will route changes and reduced hours for Magnolia and Queen Anne force residents into their cars?
  • Is there anything we can do to save the bus service we presently count on?

At the meeting, details on the April 22 ballot measure to maintain Metro bus service. King County Council Chair, Larry Phillips, and Metro Transit Service Planning Supervisor Martin Minkoff will present details about the funding package from 7pm to 9pm at The Catharine Blaine School Cafeteria at 2550 34th Avenue West.

The King County Council voted unanimously to seek voter approval of the April 22 ballot measure, which includes a $60 annual vehicle fee, a sales tax increase 1/10 a cent, and a 25 cent fare increase starting in 2015.

The meeting is open to all Queen Anne and Magnolia residents. Proposed changes to Metro bus service are posted online.

Metro Reduced Holiday Service Begins Monday

Heads up if you rely on Metro for commuting or are planning on downtown trips for some last minute holiday shopping – King County Metro Transit will be operating on holiday and reduced weekday schedules all next week and the beginning of the following week (New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day).

According to Metro:

“Using a limited schedule over holiday periods from November through January is estimated to save Metro about $1 million each year. These are planned reductions for holiday periods when Metro has historically seen a reduction in the number of weekday riders – estimated to be 15 percent or more systemwide.”

Sunday schedules will be in effect on the following holidays:

  • Tuesday, Dec. 25 – Christmas
  • Tuesday, Jan. 1 – New Year’s Day

The reduced weekday schedule will be in effect on:

  • Monday, Dec. 24 – Christmas Eve
  • Wednesday-Friday, Dec. 26-28  – winter holiday period
  • Monday, Dec. 31 – New Year’s Eve
  • Monday, Jan. 21 – Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Queen Anne routes with reduced weekday schedules include: 2, 3, 4, 13. A list of additional route service impacts are online.

Metro Route 2E now Route 29 with Revised Routing

Changes are coming to the West side of Queen Anne, starting September 29th.  Route 2E, which heads South to Downtown in the Morning and North in the evening, is turning in to Route 29.  This will extend service all the way from 32nd & Market in Ballard to the Jackson Street island in the International District.

Revised Route 2 Express will be renumbered Route 29. Route 29 will operate the same routing as former Route 2E but will be extended to NW Market St & 28th Ave NW in Ballard via 3rd Ave W, W Nickerson St, Leary Ave NW and NW Market St. Also, southbound trips to downtown Seattle will operate on 2nd Ave instead of 3rd Ave.

This revised routing, combined with the opening of Rapid Ride D, which we wrote about last week, is setting up some big changes in how our neighborhood is going to be commuting via transit this fall.  Metro is encouraging anyone who travels via bus to recheck their schedules (paper ones will be available this week, September 24th) online to make sure that your usual doesn’t have a time change.

Additional reading links regarding these schedule changes can be found below.

Seattle Times article about Rapid Ride and the ins and outs of traveling via it

Seattle Transit Blog’s look at the bus situation on Queen Anne

Installation of Rapid Ride D Line

Thanks to tipster Ted, we’ve been alerted to roadwork at the bottom of Counterbalance that’s been going on for a few weeks now.  

Seattle Metro has been working on installing Rapid Ride D Line’s stops/stations on Queen Anne Ave. at Mercer.  Below you can see all the stops planned for this new route.

In terms of making traffic flow a little easier going South, the Rapid Ride line is opening September 29th, so those cones and backups should resolve themselves (hopefully) before then.

Hundreds voice concerns about Metro bus cuts

Depending on who you ask, 400-700 people showed up for last night’s Metropolitan King County Council committee meeting to discuss the proposed cuts in King County Metro bus service.

The main issue of the discussion was the $20 car-tab fee for each of the next two years that is being considered. Without it, Metro says it would need to cut service 17 percent by eliminating some routes and reducing trips.

State lawmakers gave county officials the authority this year to charge an extra $20 for car tabs — which would provide $50 million over two years — to help Metro. When combined with reserve funds, it’s enough to largely maintain existing service, Metro says.

The next step for King County’s nine-member council is to either put it to a vote in the next election or a “supermajority” of six members could enact the new fee without going to the voters.

Unfortunately, only four County Council members attended the transportation committee hearing (Bob Ferguson, Larry Gossett, Joe McDermott and Larry Phillips) while five did not. The four who did attend, however, have already come out in favor of the fee.

There will be one more public hearing on July 21 in Burien at the City Council Chambers, followed by a vote from the King County Councilmembers, scheduled for July 25.

Uptown Alliance meeting talks transportation issues, low income housing & more Thursday

The Uptown Alliance’s monthly meeting is happening this Thursday, June 9 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Lower Queen Anne Metropolitan Market restaurant space. This month the agenda is brimming with transportation issues – from Metro’s D-Line RapidRide stop placement, to its new trolley buses – as well as other hot topics, including the Department of Neighborhoods Alcohol Impact Program and a potential site for low-income housing in Uptown. Check out the full agenda:

  • Greetings and introductions
  • Adopt Minutes of 5/12/11
  • Metro Transit D-Line RapidRide stop placement – Jonathan Dong (SDOT) & Paul Roybal (Metro)
  • Committee Reports:
  1. New LED lighting in Counterbalance Park: it’s getting better.
  2. Department of Neighborhoods Alcohol Impact Area program – Christa Dumpys TBC
  3. 8th Ave. N. and Roy St.: Possible near-Uptown, SLU site for low cost housing: Will UA support this site? If so, how best? – Rick Hooper
  4. A new generation of trolley buses in Seattle.
  5. Letter supporting Alcohol Impact Area Program.
  6. Uptown Alliance participation in proposed Center City Neighborhoods group.
  • New Business: bring your own topics and comments.

The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jul4 14. All future meetings will be held at the Lower Queen Anne Metropolitan Market until further notice.

Want to learn more about the Uptown Alliance and it’s work in the Lower Queen Anne community? Check out its Facebook page for updates and neighborhood information, or contact Rick Hooper at Nsilberg@silberg.net, or John Coney at djohnconey@aol.com.

Update on possible cuts to Queen Anne bus service

More information has been uncovered on the Metro service hour reduction scenario reported on two weeks ago. Under the scenario (.pdf), Route 2N would be eliminated, while the 2 Express would be kept and extended down to Seattle Pacific University and then Nickerson Street. Some of the hours cut from Route 2N would be put on Route 13. In addition, Route 4N would be eliminated, and those hours would be put on Route 3N, which would also extend down to Nickerson. Route 45, which connects Seattle Center with the University District through Queen Anne, would also be eliminated.

The “600,000 Service Hour Reduction Scenario,” as reported two weeks ago, is Metro’s initial look at what a reduction in service hours would look like if cuts had to be made.

“The whole idea of restructure is in this case to reduce the size of the system, be more efficient and not spend as many hours, but still try to provide service that meets the needs of the community,” said King County Metro’s Service Planning Supervisor David Hull. “This is not something that I as a transit planner am looking forward to. We like to see the system grow; we look to put more service on the street to provide quality service to more people … This is a process that is being forced because of our financial situation.”

If the King County Council decides that cuts should be made, there will be a process allowing the public to give feedback on actual service hour reduction proposals, said Hull.

The part of the scenario regarding Queen Anne routes, excluding the change to Route 45, is called “Priority 2,” which is aimed at restructuring service to improve efficiency. This is opposed to the first priority of reducing low productivity services (Route 45), and the lesser priorities of reducing higher‐productivity services and reducing low‐productivity services in all areas identified as underserved. The total cuts from Priority 2 amounts to a 255,000 reduction in hours, of which approximately 6,000 hours will be cut from routes particular to Queen Anne.

“We’re not trying to eliminate access to service [in the Priority 2 cuts], but perhaps requiring folks to change how they use the system… people might need to transfer or might need to walk a bit farther,” said Hull. “The concept is fewer routes going downtown, but they’re at a higher service level, and one thing the national studies show is that people are willing to walk farther to have more frequent service.”

Some Metro riders welcome these changes, like Bruce Nourish, a software engineer who lives downtown and works in Queen Anne.

“This proposal provides much better mobility from Lower Queen Anne, Taylor St, and Downtown to SPU and the north side of Queen Anne,” said Nourish in a comment to the previous story, adding, “Such systems, in general, provide similar mobility at far less cost, or much greater mobility at the same cost. I personally think this change is long overdue.”

Others, like Queen Anne resident and Metro rider Nell Beedle, believe some could have serious trouble with these changes.

“There are, in fact, very steep slopes and in some cases stairways that create physical barriers to access for less able-bodied riders,” said Beedle. “It’s not just about trip times for some folks; it’s also about physically being able to access the route.”

This is something Metro planners and administrators take into consideration, said Hull.

“We’re trying to limit the impacts, but we surely understand that we can’t cut 600,000 hours, almost 20 percent of our system, and not have impacts to current riders,” said Hull. “We understand that not everyone is capable of making a farther walk, that there may be individuals because of a disability or age that can’t make that walk.”

Federal laws require the King County Department of Transportation to factor in disadvantaged populations in their planning, and in the event that a disabled person is unable access public transportation, Metro provides assistance through their MetroAccess Paratransit program, said Hull.

One major factor that can keep these changes from becoming a reality is Senate Bill 5457, or the temporary $20 congestion reduction charge to help fund public transit. The bill was signed by Governor Gregoire on May 16, but it still needs to be passed by the King County Council, who will decide the matter later this summer. According to Queen Anne Community Council member Kirk Robbins at last Wednesday’s transportation committee meeting, two King County Council members have said it’s going to be a unanimous vote to put the $20 dollar charge for bus operations on the ballot in November, passing the matter to King County voters.

“[The bill] is a stopgap measure that would allow King County Metro to avoid reducing 17.5 percent of the system,” said Hull. “Even after taking numerous actions to reduce cost… we’re kind of at a point now that without additional revenue to sustain the system we got to make cuts.”

The measure would collect for about two years before expiring, during which time the state legislature would look for a bigger, more permanent fix to the transit funding problem.

“Without the fee, then these cuts need to happen sooner than later,” said Hull.

40th Annual NW Folklife Festival kicks off today

It’s Memorial Day weekend, which for many Seattleites is synonymous with the city’s annual Northwest Folklife Festival, now in full swing at Seattle Center.

The festival, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, chose to have a Bulgarian theme for the 2011 festival, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find all of your favorite cultural, ethnic, musical and artistic events, alongside a few new ones. One of the elements new to the festival this year is the “Indie Roots” stage, which according to The Seattle Times, intends to highlight “kinship between traditional folk music and Seattle’s burgeoning “neo-folk” indie movement”.

Also new to the festival this year: a Living Green Courtyard, located in the Alki Court on the northeast corner of Seattle Center. For more information watch the following news clip about the garden:

The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday. Check out  The Seattle Times lineup preview here. The full festival schedule can be found at the Folklife festival website here.

Parking is always packed around the festival, so it’s recommended to carpool or take public transportation when possible. Metro will be offering cash-only shuttle service to and from the festival on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Other routes will operate on holiday schedules on Sunday and Monday. More information on the Folklife shuttle here.