In response to customer input, Metro Transit will add a later Route 24 trip to and from Magnolia starting Saturday, Feb. 16.

The new northbound trip will leave Fourth Avenue South and South Royal Brougham Way at 10:15 p.m. on weekdays and 10:20 p.m. on weekends.

A southbound trip to Downtown Seattle will leave 35th Avenue West and West McGraw Street at 10:18 p.m. on weekdays and 10:10 p.m. on weekends.

The additional late-night trip on Route 24 is possible due to a small amount of reserve funding set aside in the large September service change to address operational problems that arose. Most of the reserve was spent addressing crowding and on-time performance problems as they occurred. Once things settled down, Metro determined that a later Magnolia trip could be added using remaining reserve funds.

While transit ridership and demand are growing sharply throughout King County, Metro has faced a significant gap between revenues and the cost of providing current levels of transit service since the Great Recession.

Metro and the County Council have taken many actions to manage this shortfall, including making deep cuts in staff positions and programs, raising fares four times in four consecutive years, implementing new efficiency measures identified in a performance audit, and partnering with employees to reduce labor costs. Despite those efforts, when reserves and temporary funding run out in 2014, Metro faces a $75 million annual shortfall unless permanent, stable funding is secured.

Using a new strategic plan and service guidelines approved by the County Council in 2011, Metro has been revamping the transit system to make it more efficient and productive. Under that policy direction, nighttime transit service in Magnolia carried significantly fewer riders per hour than comparable service and was reduced to address overcrowding on other routes.