King Co. Metro’s plans to eliminate a single stop each direction on routes 271 and 245 on the Bellevue College campus, which serves 55 percent of the college’s transit riders, has students, faculty and staff concerned about how these changes would affect their daily commute.
The stop in question is the only metro stop for the routes on the Bellevue College campus and more than 1,500 students use it on a daily basis. If the stop on campus is eliminated from these routes, students will have to travel upwards of half a mile to an unsheltered stop on 148th Ave, right next to the on-ramp for I-90.
“This puts our population which includes many vulnerable, disabled and evening students at risk,” said Deric Gruen, Bellevue College sustainability director.
Steve Ferreira, 25, a communications major from Renton, takes the bus to campus every day. Ferreira uses a wheelchair and without a large, accommodating and centrally-located stop on campus, he worries about the increased time commitment get to campus. “I have issues with stops that have limited wheelchair ramps and I’ve had to wait a half hour sometimes. The other stops are difficult to get to and there’s not much room for a wheelchair.”
“The 245 takes me about 35 minutes to commute in from Kirkland. It is a very convenient, direct route that has made my commute a lot easier,” said Alex Clark, 20, ASG Environmental and Social Responsibility Representative. “Cutting this stop will make the campus much less accessible as well as discourage transit use. Having the stop off campus would make my commute much more difficult. The stop is the most accessible I’ve encountered in terms of getting me to where I need to be on campus.”
Student organizers have begun collecting signatures and donning pins to spread awareness both on and off campus of the wide ranging effects the cuts in service would bring. They plan to collect over 500 signatures this month.
The current route is the most well-used stop in Bellevue for 271 and 245 outside of the downtown area. The proposed re-routing on 148th would place buses at additional signalized intersections and is heavily congested, especially at peak hours. This routing will cause delay for drivers as well, as the buses will stop in-lane on busy 148th Ave NE and would actually make the “route productivity,” by which Metro evaluates service, worse by moving service further away from a 12,000-strong campus commuter population.
Student organizers hope to prove through their awareness campaign that while this proposal may pencil on paper, this reroute fails on all of Metro’s criteria in practice:
- · Safety – This would put vulnerable and disabled students at risk forcing upwards of a half of a mile walk from what is currently an indoor, patrolled bus shelter to a freeway on-ramp stop on 148th.
- · Human Potential / Equity – This would reduce access to higher education.
- · Economic Growth – This would reduce access to work retraining for people unable to make it to campus without bus service.
- · Environmental Sustainability – This would make it much more difficult to take transit to the Bellevue College campus – increasing the number of cars on the road; at present a majority of student trips to BC are not single-occupant vehicles.
- · Service Excellence – This would worsen service to the most productive stop for both of these routes after downtown Bellevue. More than 1,500 board or exist buses on the BC campus daily.
- · Financial Return – this would likely provide no real time savings and no genuine budget savings. The routing proposed is only a third of a mile shorter, with buses facing more signaled intersections; the only savings would be in not picking up or dropping off 1,500 riders. With fewer riders this could hurt fare-box recovery.
Gruen, an ardent supporter of public transit, says the issue at hand is much greater than where to cut service: “I wish we weren’t wasting time on this re-route when we could be spending our efforts pursuing transit funding. Let’s fix this and get our priorities straight so we can work together.”
Those interested in signing the petition, picking up a button or learning how to get involved can visit C212 on the BC main campus or contact Alex Clark in the Associated Student Government.