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Seattle [US] - Referendum leads to service cuts

K. Budach - 07.07.14

In a recent referendum, a majority of King County voters rejected tax increases in order to further subsidize the growing cost of public transportation. As a result of this political decision, service cuts will now need to be implemented. According to existing plans, public transport is likely to be reduced by about 16% during the coming years, in order to balance the local budget. The 15 trolleybus lines in the Seattle conurbation will therefore also be affected and service reductions will probably be phased in between September 2014, February 2015 and September 2015.

Specifically, the following service cuts are planned for the trolleybuses:

The status quo will only be maintained on lines 10, 43, 44 and 49. Already in September 2014, line 47 will be cancelled, as it has previously featured the lowest ridership numbers.

In February 2015, the following changes will take place:

- Line 1 will lose all weekend services and will only run Mondays through Fridays.

- On line 2, services on the route section City Center – West Queen Anne will be withdrawn, while traffic density on the rest of the line will be intensified, in order to compensate for additional service cuts on line 12.

-Line 3 will run as far as Nickerson Street and take over for line 4, which will be cancelled.

-Line 7 will only serve the 1,1 km long circular terminus Prentice Street during peak hours.

-Line 12 will only operate during peak hours and only run eight times during that period.

-Line 13 will be boosted and cover the route section which was discontinued on line 2.

-Line 14 will only operate from Mondays to Fridays.

By September 2015, it is planned to merge lines 36 and 70 in order to form a new major trunk line. On all lines, the hours of operation will be reduced and end earlier in the evening.

Initially, even more drastic cuts were foreseen, but following several key decisions by the local legislative body, it is likely that the plan outlined above will be implemented.

Seattle’s procurement of 141 new trolleybuses from the consortium of New Flyer/Vossloh-Kiepe is not affected by the service reductions, although the future fleet size will shrink from the present number of 159 units to the new total of 141. The new series will consist of 86 single units of the Xcelsior XT40 type and 55 articulated buses of the Xcelsior XT60 model. Once all of the new buses are in service, the older vehicles will be withdrawn wholesale. Should future operations require it, the order includes options for 250 additional trolleybuses.

Translation: Andrew Thompson

As part of the wide-scale service cuts in the Seattle area, trolleybuses will no longer operate on line 14 on weekends. The pictured Gillig bus 4178 will be withdrawn in 2015 and replaced by the new series of 141 Flyer/Vossloh units. Photo: Gunter Mackinger

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