(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chairman of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Committee, announced that a provision to restore the ability for King County Metro Transit to provide service to a number of major sporting and special events has been included in the final version of the 2010 Senate Transportation Appropriations bill. Senator Murray fought for the inclusion of the provision after a Bush administration rule resulted in the elimination of Metro service and imposed more costly service provided by private carriers on fans. The final version of the spending bill came out of a conference committee between the Senate and the House and is expected to pass both bodies shortly before being sent to the President for his signature.
“This rule has gotten between fans and an affordable, convenient way to get to games in our region,” said Senator Murray. “My provision will not only restore Metro service on game days, it will help reduce congestion throughout the city. Especially now, as our economy struggles, we can’t stick fans with steep fares and sub-par service on their way to support our local teams.”
In 2008, the Bush Administration put forth a rule that stated that a public transit agency cannot provide service to games if private charter operators are able to do so. This rule resulted in several specific problems in the Seattle region including private charters operators that were unable to accommodate handicapped fans, drastically increased fees for service, inconvenient and delayed staging, and increased congestion. Senator Murray’s inclusion of this provision was in direct response to numerous complaints that were logged by area fans and sports organizations.
“This provision will help Mariners fans and others in our South Downtown neighborhood who came to rely on the ‘Metro to the Mariners’ bus service,” said Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln. “It will also mean less traffic congestion on game days. We are very appreciative of Senator Murray’s efforts to restore this valuable service.”
“Senator Murray’s leadership on this issue has been exceptional,” said Scott Woodward, Athletic Director for the University of Washington. “It will allow the University of Washington and other major event venues to honor King County’s long tradition of robust transit service for public events.”
“The Seahawks are pleased that Senator Murray’s efforts will enable us to offer affordable transit opportunities to our fans for their convenience and help us do our part in limiting traffic congestion,” said Suzanne Lavender, Director of Corporate Communications for the Seahawks and Sounders.
While the provision that Senator Murray included in the 2010 Transportation Appropriations bill takes up the specific concerns that have been voiced in the Puget Sound region, Senator Murray is intent on working to address this issue on a larger scale as the Senate moves toward reauthorization of a critical surface transportation bill in the coming year.