It seems as though each year, the season continues to change later and later. Summer didn’t arrive in the Pacific Northwest until August. At least it bled well into September to provide warm temperatures and great views from the Alki Room of Salty’s on Alki to welcome this year’s first ITE Washington section meeting. Section President, Kevin Chang (King County), announced the start of the meeting after providing ample time for the 56 registered attendees, one more than last year, to shake off their summer vacation stories and enjoy the buffet lunch consisting of salmon, steak, vegetable lasagna with seafood chowder, salad and fruit.
Mr. Chang introduced section Vice President/Treasurer, Jim Ellis (Consulting Traffic Engineer), Secretary, Dongho Chang (City of Everett) and Past President, Katherine Casseday (Casseday Consulting.) He continued by inviting Kevin Desmond, Metro General Manager, to begin speaking on King County’s system that supports the management of our regional transportation capacity.
Commencing from seven bases to cover over 2100 square miles through 39 cities and unincorporated areas, Metro was the fastest growing transit in the U.S in 2007. Much like the iconic “golden arches” where the food, the service, the facilities is essentially identical no matter where you go, transit service throughout King County is equally consistent and reliable on each one of its 220 fixed routes.
However the recent great recession obviously took its toll. Not only did sales tax drop, but ridership dropped as well due to loss of employment. Mr. Desmond presented a sobering list of measures Metro wrestled to narrow the gap between funding and service. He then transitioned to present a sustainable Metro Transit moving forward with a $20 congestion reduction charge for two years to preserver 600,000 annual service hours.
Metro will continue providing support and alternatives for those impacted by regional transportation projects such as the SR 520, Alaska Way Viaduct. With technologies such as Real-Time information, ORCA cards and third party apps being implemented on the Rapid Ride corridors, Metro hopes to gain acceptance from potential users and then advance to the next level. Rapid Ride, Metro’s bus rapid transit program, has already increased its ridership along the A-line by 30% and eagerly awaits the start of B-line on the east side. Those interested in Mr. Desmond’s updates can follow along at www.kingcounty.gov/metro/GMnews.
After a round of questions and answers, Kevin Chang advertised information cards with links to King County website as well as the ITE website. He also introduced Ash Sabnekar (PACLAND), chair for the new ITE Directory. Just as Mr. Chang greeted the member with a smile, so he adjourned the meeting.