Metro may end popular shuttles to Mariners, Huskies and Seahawks games

On Wednesday, a federal court judge ruled that King County Metro's special shuttle service with routes from South Kirkland, Eastgate, South Bellevue and Northgate was unconstitutional. Shuttles over the bridges to games costing $5 each way will be a thing of the past. Metro has sent the Mariners a 14-day service termination notice ending the shuttle bus service June 24.

The notice is the latest development in a case brought by two trade associations representing private charter companies, including Starline Luxury Coaches in Seattle. They claimed that federal rules prohibit public-transit operators from using their government-subsidized buses to provide charter services when private firms can do so.

A recent amendment by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., had carved out an exemption for Metro — one of the nation's top 10 busiest public-transit providers — with a goal of reducing costs to Seattle sports fans. But a federal judge in Washington, D.C., declared the Murray amendment unconstitutional last week, prompting Metro to send the notice to the Mariners.

Metro also has provided special shuttle service to the University of Washington Huskies and other sports teams, and to special events such as the flower and garden show. It wasn't immediately known how the ruling will affect service to Husky games.

The Seattle Times

The following is quoted from the United States District Court For The District Of Columbia decision Memorandum Opinion:

At the heart of this dispute are the regulations in 49 C.F.R. Part 604, known as the “Charter Rule,” which was designed to effectuate the goal of 49 U.S.C. § 5323(d) of preventing local governmental authorities that receive federal transportation financial assistance from providing charter bus service if a private charter operator is willing and able to provide such service. Plaintiffs request that the Court declare unconstitutional section 172 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2010 (“Appropriations Act”), Pub. L. No. 111-117, § 172, 123 Stat. 3034, 3065-66 (Dec. 16, 2009), also known as the “Murray Amendment,” because it singles out Washington state’s King County Department of Transportation Metro Transit Division (“KCM”) as the sole federally funded transit agency against whom FTA may not enforce the Charter Rule, to the detriment of private charter operators in the King County area.

Click here to read the court decision.