Staff photo.

Sunset Hill Community Association calls to save bus route 61

In response to Metro Bus route 61 set to be cut this fall, the Sunset Hill Community Association (SHCA) wrote Councilmember Larry Phillips and King County Executive Dow Constantine a letter requesting the route cut be reconsidered.

In the letter, SHCA argued that Route 61 is the only off peak transit service for Sunset Hill residents for midday, a.m. peak northbound, p.m. peak southbound, nights and weekends.

If 61 is eliminated the only remaining route to downtown would be the 17 express in the morning and from downtown in the afternoon. 

Another issue addressed in the letter was parking and how eliminating a key bus route would exacerbate parking in Ballard.

“As I'm sure you are aware, parking in Ballard is becoming very difficult. Route 61 enables Sunset Hill residents to travel to/from Ballard by transit thus avoiding a car trip, and having to search for a hard-to-find parking space,” wrote Thomas Friedman, 
Public Affairs Chair of SHCA.

In addition, route 61is essential for Sunset Hill residents because it is the only transit option to connect to Rapid Ride line D, which is the all day transit route that connects Ballard to Downtown Seattle and other parts of the city. 

“No other Seattle neighborhood would be as limited in transit service once route 61 is eliminated. At a minimum, SHCA requests that some level of all day and weekend transit service be maintained, either as a reduced route 61 schedule (maybe one hour head ways?), or perhaps some sort of shuttle/van service circulating up/down Sunset Hill.”

The cutting of route 61 and other routes is the result of a measure failing last April. The measure was going to increase taxes and car tab costs to pay for a gap in transit funding. King County Metro had to determine which bus routes to be cut back or eliminated in order to close the funding gap.

The King County Council reviewed the list in May, and the bus route changes started in June.

Services all over King County have been cut by 16 percent, and Metro reported that bus service will drop to levels not seen since 1997.

This September, Bus Route 61 is one of the 28 Metro bus routes that will be deleted and 13 will be revised amounting to 161,000 hours of service cuts. The Council has directed Metro to cut another 188,000 hours in February 2015, but is still in the process of making that list of route changes.

In all, 72 routes will be eliminated by next year and 84 routes will be reduced, which means a loss of 11 million rides, and 550,000 service hours each year.

In Ballard, bus routes 61, 62, 28 and 48x have already or will be eliminated entirely, and routes D, 28x, 29, and 40 will be reduced or revised.

Whether the letter will make a difference in saving route 61 is still to be determined.

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