In May of 2014, King County Metro announced a budget shortfall of 1.2 billion dollars for the six year period between 2009 and 2015. To make up for these cuts, Metro proposed wide cuts, one specifically to the 271 would directly impact the roughly 900 daily riders at Bellevue College.
The proposed change to the 271 would have the route go down 148th Ave, bypassing campus, making students walk a quarter of a mile to campus and/or catch the bus at the Eastgate Park and Ride. Concerns for safety and accessibility led to student outcry and a campaign to save the 271, and a coalition was formed with King County Councilmember Jane Hague to keep the 271 routed through BC.
According to Patrick Green, “thanks to Councilmember Hague’s office, they asked Metro to come to the table and basically tell us why Metro wanted to not be on campus.” While the reroute may seem minor to some in terms of distance, “There are some things Metro believes slows their buses down. Mainly it’s pedestrians. Students crossing from the parking garage, those two crosswalks there, students don’t watch for the bus, so it’s a safety hazard for Metro. Also cars pulling in, cutting off the buses as they’re trying to pull out of their stop.” In addition to the cars and pedestrians, the speed bumps are harder on buses than normal cars.
As a solution, “the capital projects team at BC is still sort of going through these things, getting cost estimates, trying to figure out of these options what are some of the least cost, so we’ve allocated up to 200,000 but we are hoping not to spend that much, to resurface the speed bump areas, to provide channelization for the buses.” By taking measures to alleviate the concerns Metro has with service through Bellevue College, Metro would have less of a reason to route the bus away from campus.
Speaking on the role of students and faculty in the campaign, Green said “the students were huge. We couldn’t have done it without the students, basically demonstrating a large degree of the support. Raising awareness about the issue, demonstrating that Bellevue College is not just a small component, but this one thing is an egregious offense to student access and education. The students rallying was pretty big.” Green also credited Ray White and Dave Rule for their efforts in facilitating the discussion to make significant changes to the campus layout.
The 271 has not been without cuts, however, with service from Eastgate to Issaquah being cut from the route. Students in Issaquah can take the 554 to the Eastgate overpass, and walk to campus or transfer to the 271 for easier access.
While the 271 will continue to service campus for the foreseeable future, no permanent solutions have yet been put into place. Those wishing to continue to campaign for the 271 can contact the Office of Sustainability.