Beginning today, riders boarding King County Metro buses on Third Avenue between Pine and Stewart streets by Macy’s in downtown Seattle will have another option – buying their ticket before they even board the bus. Crews installed the ticket vending machine at the northbound stop on Third Avenue, last week. The machine is part of a new pilot project designed to side-step the onboard farebox to test the concept of pre-paying for tickets. The idea behind the new vending machine is simple. Before the bus even arrives, you can buy a ticket from the machine with either cash or by using a credit or debit card. Metro thinks this off-board payment option will help riders who don’t have ORCA cards board more quickly. Metro also wants to assess whether the machine has the potential to cut down on schedule delays that can occur while buses wait for riders as they pay with cash at the farebox. The new machine is being installed with help of Seattle Department of Transportation crews. Metro has been working closely with the city for more than a year on a number of Third Avenue improvements to better serve transit riders and pedestrians. The new machine is easy to use. Just choose the type of fare you need and pay with cash or a credit/debit card and the machine will issue you a ticket to show the bus driver when you board. Tickets are good for two hours—you can ride Metro as much as you like during that time – no need to get a paper transfer. The tickets are only good on Metro buses and are not valid on other transit systems. Following a six-month testing period, Metro will assess the pilot project and look at equipment performance, usage and potential benefits to bus schedules before deciding whether to expand the program. Riders can help by participating in a survey to assess how well the ticket vending machine served their needs. Learn more about the pilot by visiting Metro’s website.
This week, Metro received notice from Washington State Department of Labor & Industries, citing us for not providing transit operators with unrestricted access to bathroom facilities when operators need to relieve themselves. L&I has directed Metro to correct this issue and Metro will.
We remain committed to making sure our employees have access to restrooms. We currently have a network of about 280 comfort stations along about 200 bus routes across the county that operators have access to when they need. They are comprehensively listed and mapped in operator’s route books.
Of those about 50 restrooms are Metro owned and maintained. Others are located at public facilities, but most are inside private businesses.
We are creating an action plan to identify gaps within this network and work to fill those gaps by identifying locations and creating agreements for use of restroom facilities. A Metro staff person will ensure the ongoing availability of restrooms along all of our routes and will work directly with operators to make sure their needs are met.
We also will perform a comprehensive update of the status of all existing facilities along our routes so we have a clear understanding of what’s available, including hours of operation.
We will make sure our operators have written updated information on the status of restroom availability throughout our service area.
Longer term, we’ll also look at the feasibility of adding more Metro-owned restrooms (in addition to the roughly 50 we already own and operate), if other alternative facilities are not adequate.
Operators are working under schedules that were tightened as a result of a 2009 performance audit, which limited break times to reduce Metro’s costs. Operators have said they often must make a tough choice between taking a bathroom break or sticking to their schedule.
We have been working with Amalgamated Transit Union 587 since that audit, and an internal scheduling committee has worked to balance the need for break times and bus scheduling. We’ve spent $4 million to address scheduling and break time issues – and we have improved pending labor contract language to deal with these concerns.
We anticipate that Prop. 1 bus service slated to be added in Seattle will improve schedule reliability, in line with our Service Guidelines, which further helps operators get the break time they need.
Again, Metro is committed to making sure our operators have access to adequate restroom facilities. If there are insufficient restrooms, Metro will find an accommodation, including expending additional resources if necessary.
–Kevin Desmond, Metro Transit General Manager
The King County Council’s adoption of the 2015-2016 county budget on Nov. 17 marks a turning point for Metro. After extraordinary efforts to save as much bus service as possible during a six-year financial crisis, the new budget maintains current service levels for the next two years.
Metro’s ongoing efficiency gains, recent projections of lower fuel costs, and other financial improvements enabled the Council to adopt a budget that eliminates the need for previously proposed service cuts.
Earlier in November, Seattle voters approved funding for additional transit service. The City of Seattle will purchase Metro service through County Executive Dow Constantine’s Community Mobility Contracts Program. Seattle will expand service on Metro routes that serve the city by about 10 percent.
The need remains for long-term funding that fully meets King County’s current and future demand for bus service. According to Metro’s service guidelines, 15 percent more bus service is needed today—and ridership is growing. Although Metro’s budget will maintain the current service level for two years, and Seattle funding extends through 2020, neither enable sustainable long-term growth in transit service.
Metro will continue striving to make the most of every available transit dollar, and county leaders have pledged to continue working for a transportation funding solution.
Central Link light rail will not operate passenger service while Sound Transit implements system upgrades related to the planned 2016 implementation of University Link service.
All regular bus service that normally operates in the DSTT will operate instead via designated surface street routing and stops, and alternate shuttle bus service will be provided to serve Link stations and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
During the closure:
- All downtown tunnel stations and all other Link stations will be closed.
- Metro-operated Link Shuttle Route 97 will serve surface stops near Link stations in downtown Seattle, SODO and along Martin Luther King Jr. Way South.
- Direct, non-stop service between downtown Seattle and Sea-Tac Airport on Nov. 15, ride the Pierce Transit-operated Route 97A:
- From downtown Seattle: Westbound on Pine Street between Fourth and Third avenues at Macy’s.
- From Sea-Tac Airport: Northbound on International Boulevard South just north of South 176th Street.
- Metro bus routes 41, 71, 72, 73 & 255 heading toward Northgate, the University District or Kirkland respectively, will travel through downtown Seattle via Fourth Avenue and Olive Way; heading south into downtown Seattle they will travel via Second Avenue.
- Metro routes 101, 106 and 150 heading to their south end destinations, and Sound Transit Route 550 to Bellevue, will travel through downtown Seattle via Stewart Street and Second Avenue; heading north into town they will travel via Fourth Avenue.
- All SODO Busway service will operate via normal routes and stops.
Tunnel routes and the Link Shuttle Route 97 do not make all posted bus stops along their surface street routing. Visit Metro’s Service Advisories page to find out the routing and stops for specific routes.
For information about this project and Link light rail visit Sound Transit’s website.
Thank you for your patience during this temporary closure.
Many veterans who served their country go on to dedicate their careers to public service. To better honor their experiences and continued commitment to our communities, we sat down with employees across King County’s Department of Transportation. Their work is woven into the fabric of the services we provide – behind the wheel of a Metro bus, piloting a water taxi, managing our vehicle fleet and airport, and keeping our county roadways safe and clear. Hear their stories in this album of four #Veterans videos.
They are purple and we think they’re pretty cool.
By now you may have gotten a glimpse of our two 40-foot prototype trolleys on Seattle city streets. They are the vehicles that will replace our existing aging electric trolley fleet beginning late in 2015.
But before full fleet production begins, we will be testing both our new 40-foot and larger 60-foot prototype New Flyer trolleys to simulate actual service. The testing will last about three months, and will allow us to identify the need for any minor adjustments.
When factors such as capital cost, fuel consumption, maintenance and available grant funding are considered, this electric trolley system is expected to be cheaper to operate than our hybrid fleet during the projected life of the vehicles.
We’ve teamed up with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA) to purchase replacement coaches from the same contract – a move that ensures both Metro and SFMTA get highly competitive pricing. Approximately $138 million in federal grants will help fund the trolley purchases – that’s about 75 percent of the total cost of the new fleet.
About our trolley fleet
Did you know Metro operates the second largest electric trolley fleet in the nation? We plan to initially purchase 141 New Flyer trolleys that will operate on 70 miles of two-way overhead wire in Seattle. Of those, 86 will be 40-foot trolleys and 55 will be larger 60-foot vehicles to replace Metro’s aging fleet of Breda and Gillig trolleys. This purchase represents about 10 percent of Metro’s entire fleet.
Metro and Sound Transit are thinking about ways to connect the new light rail service with buses to make an efficient network of service. Some buses will connect with new Link stations to make it easy for riders to transfer between buses and light rail. Other changes will restructure service to create a faster, more reliable, and easy-to-use transit network.
Do you use transit on Capitol Hill, in the University District, or in northeast Seattle?
Please join the conversation and tell us how you use bus service today, what works well, and what you’d like to see change. Your input will help shape the future of transit in these areas.
How to participate:
- Fill out our survey by Nov. 30
- Come to a meeting or outreach event
- Apply to serve on a sounding board – applications are due by Nov. 30
- Join the conversation on our blog, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram – #Bus2Link
See www.kingcounty.gov/metro/LinkConnections to fill our our survey, see a calendar of events, and learn more.