The annual system evaluation for King County Metro from 2019 shows that 455,510 annual service hours are needed to meet baseline service targets. To realize the larger Metro Connects long-range plan, approximately two million additional annual service hours would be needed to roll out more frequent and complete service across King County.
King County Metro currently operates 4.2 million service hours per year and has made some headway in the past year to increase service levels. From the fall of 2018 through the spring of 2019, Metro added 40,900 annual service hours in line with its service guidelines and another 46,700 annual service hours in Seattle from Seattle Transportation Benefit District funding. A further 68,900 service hours were programmed for addition as part of the fall service change in 2019.
Metro’s service guidelines use a tiered priority approach to determine where investments should go. There are three key priorities highlighted in the system evaluation:
- Priority 1: investments that reduce crowding on buses;
- Priority 2: investments that improve reliability of service; and
- Priority 3: investments that can grow ridership.
To inform where priority investments should go, the system evaluation includes extensive route-level productivity and performance data analysis.
Based upon that analysis, Metro indicates that Priority 3 has the largest backlog in investment need. The system evaluation showed that an additional 420,100 annual service hours are needed to grow service. That is down from the year prior when it estimated 452,600 annual service hours were needed to fulfill this priority. Priority 2 was the second highest area of investment need at 25,450 annual service hours to address reliability issues; this is about two-thirds the need from 2018. Lastly, about 9,600 additional annual service hours are needed to reduce crowding issues, largely at peak hours. Crowding is up from 2018 when only 7,800 new annual service hours were needed to address that priority by Metro’s count.