Metro, SDOT plan to expand late-night bus service in Sept. 2017

night_owl_1Riding the bus in Seattle between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. will soon be a lot more convenient for people all over the city.

King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced legislation Tuesday to expand and improve late-night bus service in the City of Seattle.  The proposal, which Executive Constantine will submit to the King County Council, better meets demand for transit from workers on non-traditional schedules, as well as those traveling off-hours to the airport and enjoying nightlife.

Metro and the Seattle Department of Transportation have worked together to develop the plan. It was crafted with input from the public, including 4,500 survey responses.We also spoke with riders on the buses, and engaged groups that represent the diverse needs of riders.

Replacing Night Owl routes

Metro currently has about 40 routes with some level of late-night service, including three Night Owl routes that loop through some Seattle neighborhoods between 2:15 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. and operate only during those hours.  The City of Seattle fully funds the Night Owl routes.

The proposal would add about 11,000 annual service hours, 8,800 of which the City of Seattle funds, and replace current Night Owl routes 82, 83, and 84 by adding late-night trips to existing daytime routes.

The City’s investment includes:

  • Two additional late-night round trips on the following routes: 3, 5, 11, 70, serving neighborhoods such as Capitol Hill, Central Area, Eastlake, Fremont, Green Lake, Phinney Ridge, Queen Anne, and University District. Other routes already provide late-night service to areas such as South Seattle and West Seattle.
  • Additional late-night service on routes 65 and 67 serving Northeast Seattle areas such as Lake City, Seattle Children’s Hospital, and Northgate for the first time.
  • Cross-town (non-downtown) connections through added service on routes 44 and 48, creating a grid pattern that expands late-night bus travel options without having to go through downtown and diversifying travel options to, from, and through the University District.

Metro will add 2,000 service hours, which include the following:

  • Additional late-night service at about 2 a.m. on route 120 serving Delridge, White Center and Burien.
  • Hourly all-night service on the RapidRide C, D, and E Lines, which currently operate all night but with less than hourly frequencies.
  • Extend Route 124 from Tukwila to Sea-Tac Airport after 1 a.m., increasing transit options for travelers and workers.
  • Added time to allow bus drivers adequate restroom breaks.

Metro and its partners invest about $7.7 million for all routes system-wide between midnight and 5 a.m. This proposal increases that total by $730,000, with $500,000 from the City of Seattle.

If approved, the late-night service plan would take effect in September 2017 with Metro’s semi-annual service change. More information on specific route changes is available at Metro’s late-night service page.map-of-service-changes-icon

 

Commute achievement unlocked! 70 percent of commuters to downtown Seattle don’t drive

The front page of the Seattle Times launched the big news for commuters today: “As downtown jobs grow, workers turn to transit.”

Driving that headline was the announcement that less than 30 percent of nearly 250,000 commuters to downtown Seattle drive alone, and 70 percent take transit, rideshare, bike, walk and telework.Pie chart displaying the mode split for downtown Seattle commuters, totaling 70 percent who don't drive alone

It’s something riders have watched evolve over time. Record downtown Seattle job growth spurred public and private transportation investment during the past decade. Voter-approved ballot measures continued to pay to expand transit service. And the downward spiral of solo drivers continued. (35 percent in 2010; 34 percent in 2012 and 31 percent in 2014.)

Downtown Seattle added 45,000 jobs from 2010 to 2016, and an impressive 95 percent of the net increase in daily commute trips have been absorbed by transit, rideshare, biking and walking.

Public transit remains the top choice for downtown commuters (47%), with ridesharing, (9%), walking (6%), bicycling (3%), and teleworking (3%) rounding out the 70 percent of commuters not driving alone.

Did you know there are 31,000 more daily peak transit commuters, 9,000 additional non-motorized commuters, and 2,300 more vanpool/carpool riders since 2010? Solo drivers increased by only 2,255 during peak hours.Job growth in downtown Seattle has grown from 200,000 jobs in 2010 to 247,000 in 2016.

The results fulfill a 10-year goal to reduce the downtown Seattle peak commute drive-alone rate to 30 percent, accomplished by Commute Seattle at the direction of the Downtown Transportation Alliance (DTA)—a public-private partnership comprised of the Downtown Seattle Association, the City of Seattle (SDOT & OPCD), King County Metro and Sound Transit.

Metro preparing to operate snow routes during early Monday commute

Travelers in King County should plan for snow late Sunday and Monday morning, and be ready for disruptions to transit service and unincorporated roads.

King County Metro Transit is preparing to shift buses to snow routes in all areas of King County forMonday morning’s commute, and plans to equip all buses in service with chains. Subscribers of email and text transit alerts will receive notifications and information will be posted to Metro’s Snow and Ice page. Customers are urged to sign up for transit alerts and familiarize themselves with the planned snow route for their regular bus by visiting Metrowinter.com.

Typically, snow routes move buses away from hills and neighborhood streets and onto less-steep streets and arterials that are likely to be plowed. Buses also will coordinate with specially-chained shuttles equipped to connect riders from hilly or difficult-to-access areas with transit service on major corridors.

Metro will continue to monitor weather conditions as they develop and issue transit alerts  as more information becomes available. Crews are prepared to adjust service where needed.

The King County Department of Transportation urges Metro Transit customers and people who travel unincorporated county roads to monitor weather conditions and plan for possible travel delays.

For weather and route information

Riders should also:

  • Familiarize themselves with the planned snow route for their regular bus by visitingMetrowinter.com.
  • Be aware of conditions in areas where they will be traveling and allow extra time. Buses may not operate on schedule and may be crowded.
  • Be patient. Increased ridership during bad weather can result in crowded buses and a longer-than-usual wait when calling the Customer Information Office. Metro staff will not be able to tell you when a bus will arrive at a specific stop.
  • Dress warmly for the walk to the bus stop and wear appropriate footwear.
  • Head for bus stops on main arterials or at major transfer points such as park-and-ride lots, transit centers, or shopping centers.
  • Walk to bus stops where the street is level when safely possible. Avoid hills where buses may not be able to stop.

Department of Transportation divisions

Road Services crews are on rotation and available to sand and plow mapped snow routes. The Snow and Ice page has more information.

Metro Transit supervisors are staffing the agency’s control center, actively monitoring the forecast and will respond to changing weather conditions in the event they affect roads across King County. Vehicle maintenance staff are prepared to respond to stuck coaches. As weather conditions continue to develop, Metro customers are urged to familiarize themselves with the planned snow route for their regular bus.

Water Taxi crews are prepared to respond to icy conditions should they develop at the docks served by the water taxi, which currently operates weekday service. West Seattle customers who ride Metro shuttles to the water taxi are encouraged to subscribe to Metro transit alerts for routes 773 and 775 for any service disruptions.

Airport personnel monitor airfield conditions, including during periods of very cold temperatures and possible snow. Crews are prepared to remove snow from the runways when needed.

Resources for travelers

VIDEO: Reserved parking now available to carpoolers at 6 Metro park-and-rides

Reserved parking is now available for carpoolers at six Metro park-and-rides. All they have to do is apply for a free Carpool Parking Permit and display it on their vehicle.

King County Metro Transit will reserve parking spaces at six area park-and-rides until 8:30 a.m. for groups of two more riders with permits. Reserved spaces will be marked clearly with a sign in front of each stall. After 8:30 a.m., permit spaces open to the general public.

Permits are available through Republic Parking Northwest, and went into effect Feb. 1. They are part of a pilot program intended to better manage demand at park-and-rides, which often are already full or nearly full by early morning.

For some commuters, such as shift workers or working parents who have to drop off children at daycare, that can be a disadvant
age.

More information is available in he video above or at Metro’s Carpool Parking Permit website. You can also find our most commonly-asked questions at the bottom of this page.

Carpool Parking Permits will be offered for Redmond, Issaquah Highlands, South Kirkland, South Renton, Northgate and Eastgate — six of the busiest park-and-rides in King County.

Only a small number of spaces will be allocated to carpool permits at the start of the program, and most park-and-ride spaces still will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.  The number of reserved parking spaces will be based on the number of permits issued per location.

Metro’s program was designed to be integrated with Sound Transit’s new carpool permit program, which also offers permits at nine additional area park-and-rides.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How do I obtain a permit?carpool_permit_sign_020117

Applicants must provide basic contact information, ORCA card numbers, vanpool ID, or RideshareOnline.com email for each member of the carpool. Permits are free.

Regular transit use is not initially required to obtain a permit, but at least two carpool permit-holders must average three days a transit ridership per week (12 days per month) to stay qualified. Permits can be obtained through Republic Parking Northwest, and must be renewed monthly.

.If you have questions about permit eligibility, applications and payments call Republic Parking Northwest at 206-783-4144, extension 0. More information can be found at Metro’s Permit Parking website.

Why is Metro offering carpool permits?

Of the 54 permanent park-and-rides Metro operates, half are at 80 percent capacity or higher, and some fill up completely before the morning commute ends. In addition to being inconvenient, the “first-come-first-served” system now in place is unfair for people with later work, school or appointment schedules.

In response to increased demand, Metro is currently exploring a range of options to both manage and expand parking supply. One way to do this is to encourage people to carpool to the park-and-ride. In February 2017, we are launching a pilot program at six of our busiest park and rides that will offer free carpool parking permits to regular transit riders.

Are Metro carpool parking permits free?

Yes. This pilot carpool parking program we plan to launch in February is strictly voluntary, and the permits for carpool users are free. Our partner agency Sound Transit also offers carpool permits and reserved parking for $5 per month.

What’s the perk for permit holders?

In return for signing up, carpool permit holders will have reserved parking until 8:30 a.m., after which time the stalls will be available for all transit riders.

How long will the pilot program operate?

The pilot program will last for one year. At that point, permit holders and riders will be able to share their feedback about what worked well, and what could be improved.

How many permits will be issued?

The number of permits will depend on demand each month. Metro’s target is about 5 percent of current parking spaces will be reserved for carpoolers. The program limits the number of reserved spaces to 50 percent of parking stalls at each lot. After 8:30 a.m., reserved spaces open to the general public.

How will the permits be enforced?

Drivers who park in reserved spaces without a permit between 4 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. will be subject to two warnings – subsequent violations will result in having the vehicle towed. Republic Parking Northwest will monitor permit spaces each morning and issue warnings if needed.

 Is Sound Transit also offering carpool permits? How is Metro’s program different? 

Sound Transit kicked off a carpool parking program last fall at nine area park-and-rides after completing its own public outreach campaign and pilot program. Metro’s program was designed to be integrated with Sound Transit’s new carpool permit program, but Metro’s carpool parking permits will be free of charge. Sound Transit’s permits cost $5 per month.

If people can’t find parking, shouldn’t they just get to the park-and-ride earlier?

Flexible work schedules aren’t an option for everyone, and many Metro customers work in a variety of occupations with schedules that don’t conform to a typical 8-to-5 business day. Those who don’t work outside the home still depend on transit to get to classes, job interviews or appointments. Making sure all riders have access to consistent service level, including parking availability, is a priority.

What if people obtain permits and don’t carpool?

At least two carpool permit-holders must average three days a transit ridership per week (12 days per month) to stay qualified. Permits can be obtained through Republic Parking Northwest, and must be renewed monthly. Metro staff will review information to make sure permit holders meet the eligibility requirements, and revoke permits for those who no longer qualify.

 Will Metro start charging for carpool permits? Or require paid parking for all riders?

Metro has no plans at this time for a paid parking system. Any changes in these plans would involve discussion with a number of local governments and other stakeholders, and we would also give transit customers an opportunity to be part of this process.

Plan for transit delays during Inauguration Day events

Several rallies and events planned around Inauguration Day in Seattle may cause delays for transit riders. That includes the Womxn’s March on Seattle  this Saturday that is expected to draw tens of thousands of participants.

King County Metro Transit riders are urged to plan ahead, allow plenty of time and prepare for traffic delays. Marches that are expected to pass through downtown may cause significant delays for buses. Riders also should sign up for Transit Alerts on Metro’s website to keep apprised of reroutes.

While every  effort is made to keep transit customers informed, Metro may not be able to provide real time service updates.depending on the time and the nature of such events. Transit riders are advised to be aware of conditions in their immediate vicinity – such as street closures, detours, police directions, etc. – and be prepared for delays or to make changes to travel plans – such as using a different bus stop or a different route.

What follows is a list of events that may affect traffic and transit service this Friday and Saturday:

Friday, Jan. 20

Inauguration Day Student rally: Seattle Central College plaza, from noon to 3 p.m. — about 250 people are expected to attend.

Immigrant and Refugee Defend Our Rights March: Expected to start with a rally at 1 p.m. at Judkins Park, followed by a march to Westlake Park downtown at 2:30 p.m. About 525 people are expected to attend.

Inauguration Day Demonstration at Westlake Park from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. About 530 people are expected to participate.

Saturday, Jan. 21

Womxn’s March on Seattle: Tens of thousands of participants are expected to attend the event, which will start with a rally at 10 a.m. at Judkins Park. The march is expected to begin at 11 a.m. and proceed to downtown to Seattle Center. King County Metro urges riders to plan for significant delays (see more information).

Ethiopian Orthodox Church Annual Epiphany Procession: The procession will begin from two starting points — at 949 Martin Luther King Jr. Way S. and 5500 S. Roxbury St. at 1 p.m. — and converge at South Roxbury Street and 51st Avenue South and continue south to 11030 E. Marginal Way. The processions return to the churches Sunday at 3 p.m.

Transit users also can follow these tips Friday and Saturday:

  • Plan to arrive early to avoid traffic congestion and full buses.
  • Prepare for overcrowding on buses.
  • Prepare for significant delays during larger events through downtown.
  • Have your transit fare or an ORCA card ready
  • Sign up for Transit Alerts on Metro’s website.

Usuarios de Access le dicen a Metro qué es lo que funciona o no funciona y comparten ideas

En julio, Metro invitó a los usuarios de Access Transportation y a sus cuidadores a ofrecer sus observaciones sobre el servicio de Access. Más de 800 personas opinaron sobre lo que estamos haciendo, lo que es más importante para ellos y cómo podemos mejorar el servicio de Access.

Un resumen detallado de los comentarios está disponible en el sitio web de Metro, pero aquí tenemos un resumen rápido.

A quiénes escuchamos

access-heardfrom-2015-spanishA través de la encuesta en línea –

  • Gente de todo el condado de King (aquí se encuentra un mapa de Google con los códigos postales de quienes respondieron).
  • Clientes de Access (46%) y cuidadores de clientes (21%); clientes que reúnen los requisitos y cuidadores que nunca han utilizado el servicio (6%); organizaciones que atienden a clientes (16%); y las personas interesadas en asuntos de discapacitados, pero que no utilizan Access (11%).

A través de nueve reuniones de las partes interesadas – Centenares de usuarios de Access, profesionales interesados en el programa Access, cuidadores y grupos de apoyo.

Por llamadas telefónicas, correos electrónicos y cartas – Cerca de 100 personas, la vasta mayoría de las cuales eran usuarios de

Lo que hemos escuchado

Hicimos preguntas acerca de la satisfacción con los diferentes aspectos de Access, incluyendo la calidad del servicio, centro de llamadas / servicio al cliente, conductores, comodidad y limpieza de los vehículos, y seguridad personal. También preguntamos qué opinión general  tenían de Access. Lo que es difícil de reflejar son las innumerables historias que escuchamos que captan los comentarios resumidos aquí y la urgencia con que, según ellos, se necesitan hacer las mejoras.  Aquí están algunos de los principales temas que escuchamos:

Las cosas buenas que Access debe seguir haciendoaccess-wordle-spanish

  1. Los usuarios necesitan y valoran el servicio de Access. Una persona escribió: “Continúen proporcionando un servicio a discapacitados y a personas mayores de una manera profesional y cortés, con conductores competentes y el personal que toma las llamadas”.
  2. Access permite que nuestros clientes tengan libertad. Uno escribió que Access ofrece “… la posibilidad de llegar a lugares de difícil acceso para mí”.
  3. Mantener  la capacitación de los conductores y contrata aquéllos que tienen compasión. Los clientes notan el arduo trabajo de los conductores y valoran a quienes son cariñosos y respetuosos.
  4. Seguir contratando a personal cortés, amable y profesional en el Centro de Llamadas. En general, la gente expresó gran satisfacción con el personal por la ventaja de poder llamar y hablar con alguien directamente cuando quieren programar un viaje y averiguar lo que se necesita para el viaje.

¿Qué es lo que Access no hace bien y que hay que cambiar?

  1. Programación y elaboración del itinerario de rutas: estar en el vehículo demasiado tiempo; conducir por todos lados para llegar de un punto a otro, saltando a veces la parada de un cliente para recoger a alguien más; los conductores dependen de un GPS deficiente y no están facultados para realizar ajustes sensatos en tiempo real para responder al tráfico. Esta fue la preocupación más común que escuchamos.
  2. Falta de fiabilidad en el servicio: no llegar a tiempo; llegar demasiado temprano o demasiado tarde; largas esperas por la llegada del autobús.
  3. Comunicación deficiente o inexistente sobre la hora de llegada o de salida. Es particularmente estresante cuando surge algún problema y no se puede localiza al despachador.
  4. No hay flexibilidad para el pasajero: problemas con la política de cancelaciones; un cliente escribió, “Para mí es un castigo tener que reprogramar mi horario, reajustar mi viaje o cansarme de esperar a Access cuando tengo que llegar a tiempo al trabajo; los conductores de Access, por el contrario, pueden darse el lujo de retrasarse y soy yo quien paga las consecuencias.”
  5. Poca uniformidad en la calidad de la conducción y del servicio del centro de llamadas: muchos elogios y alta satisfacción con los conductores, especialmente los experimentados, pero hay mucho trabajo que hacer con los menos experimentados; se necesita más capacitación; la comunicación y las cuestiones interculturales fueron planteadas por pasajeros cuando el conductor no dominaba bien el inglés.

Sugerencias de los clientes para mejorar el servicio

  • Utilizar una tecnología diferente para elaborar horarios y rutas.
  • Ofrecer más flexibilidad y adaptabilidad a los conductores para responder a las necesidades de viaje en tiempo real de los pasajeros; la tecnología GPS mejorada podría ayudar.
  • Proporcionar la capacidad de hacer reservaciones usando tecnología diferente. Comunicarse de manera más eficiente en tiempo real. Un sistema reservación en línea sería genial, o confirmaciones de texto o de aplicación de los tiempos de recogida o descarga; seguimiento de cada vehículo; proporcionando a los conductores fotos de los pasajeros que van a recoger.
  • Ofrecer más flexibilidad en la programación y cambio de viajes. Un elevado interés en reservaciones del mismo día; deseo de hacer reservaciones con más antelación y ser capaz de hacer ajustes de viaje en tiempo real si las necesidades cambian.
  • Mejor seguimiento de quejas y preguntas. Tener un equipo independiente para manejar las quejas; mejorar el seguimiento para no transferir la llamada a otro agente al que habrá que volver a contar los hechos.
  • Valorar a los miembros del personal. Incentivar y recompensar a los excelentes conductores y al personal del Centro de Llamadas; aprovechar los comentarios para mejorar el rendimiento de aquellos que no están proporcionando un buen servicio al cliente.
  • Ofrecer diferentes formas de pago. Mayor integración de ORCA con Access y tener la capacidad de deducir la tarifa de tarjetas ORCA, pagar con tarjetas de crédito, o tener una tarifa que no implique cambio.
  • Ofrecer más oportunidades para recibir comentarios de los clientes.

access-glance-2015-spanishLos pasos siguientes

Esté pendiente de la información que se brinda en este espacio sobre cómo estamos respondiendo a los comentarios y a las oportunidades para proporcionar comentarios adicionales. Nuestra próxima fase de diálogo se llevará a cabo a finales de este invierno cuando esperamos recibir comentarios sobre nuestras respuestas a las sugerencias que se dieron.

Para obtener más información, visite metro.kingcounty.gov/programs-projects/access-transportation o comuníquese con DeAnna Martin, planificadora de relaciones con la comunidad, al 206-477-3835 o deanna.martin@kingcounty.gov.


How’s our translation? If you speak English and Spanish and want to help us improve our translations, compare this post to the same post we made in English and share your feedback by emailing community.relations@kingcounty.gov.

Access users tell Metro what is and isn’t working, share ideas

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In July, Metro invited Access Transportation riders and their caregivers to give us feedback about Access service. More than 800 people weighed in on how we’re doing, what’s most important to them, and how we might improve Access.

A detailed summary of the feedback we received is available on Metro’s website, but here’s a quick rundown.

Who we heard from

access-heardfrom-2015-englishVia online survey –

  • People all over King County (here’s a Google map showing the zip codes of responders).
  • Access customers (46%) and customer caregivers (21%); eligible customers and caregivers who have never used the service (6%); organizations that serve customers (16%); and people who have an interest in disability issues but do not use Access (11%).

Via nine stakeholder meetings – Hundreds of Access riders, professionals interested in the Access program, caregivers, and advocacy groups.

Via phone, e-mails, and letters – Nearly 100 people, the vast majority of whom were Access riders.

What we heard

access-wordle-englishWe asked questions about satisfaction with different aspects of Access, including service quality, call center/customer service, drivers, comfort and cleanliness of vehicles, and personal safety. We also asked for people’s overall opinions of Access. What is hard to reflect back are the countless stories we heard that capture the feedback we’ve summarized here and the urgency with which people feel improvements are needed. That being said, here are some of the main themes we heard:

What does Access do well and should keep doing?

  1. Access is very much needed and is appreciated by users. One person wrote, “Continue to provide service for people with disabilities and seniors in a professional manner with courtesy, skilled drivers, and call takers.”
  2. Access gives our customers freedom. One wrote that it provides “…the ability to get to places I wouldn’t otherwise be able to get to.”
  3. Keep training and hiring compassionate drivers. Customers notice the hard job drivers have and appreciate those who are caring and respectful of them.
  4. Keep hiring courteous, kind, and professional Call Center staff members. In general, people expressed high satisfaction with the staff and with the ability to call and speak with someone directly to schedule a trip and communicate about trip needs.

What does Access not do so well and should be changed?

  1. Ride scheduling and routing: being on the vans too long; driving all over to get from point A to point B, including sometimes past one customer’s drop-off location to pick up someone else; drivers depending on poorly functioning GPS and not empowered to make sensible adjustments in real time to respond to traffic. This was the most common concern we heard.
  2. Lack of service reliability: not arriving on time; arriving too early or too late; long waits for rides to arrive.
  3. Poor or no communication about arrival time or at pickup. It’s especially stressful when there’s a problem and dispatch can’t be reached.
  4. Inflexibility for riders: cancellation policy issues; one customer wrote, “If I have to rearrange my schedule, adjust my trips or give up on waiting for Access to get to work on time, I am punished; but Access can be late as much as they want and I have to deal with the consequences.”
  5. Inconsistency of driver quality, call center: many commendations and high satisfaction with drivers, especially the experienced ones, but we have work to do with the less-experienced drivers; more training is needed; communication and cross-cultural issues were raised by riders whose drivers are English language learners.

Customer ideas for improvement

  • Use different scheduling and routing technology.
  • Offer more flexibility and adaptability to drivers to respond to real-time travel needs of passengers; improved GPS technology could help.
  • Provide the ability to make reservations using different technology and communicate more effectively in real time about trips. An online reservation system would be great, or text/app confirmations of pickup or drop-off times; tracking of each van; providing drivers with pictures of passengers they are picking up.
  • Offer more flexibility in scheduling and changing trips. High interest in same-day reservations; desire to make reservations further in advance and be able to make trip adjustments in real-time if needs change.
  • Better follow-up on complaints and questions. Have an independent team handle complaints; improve tracking so people don’t get passed around to different places and have to re-tell their stories.
  • Value staff members. Incentivize and reward excellent drivers and Call Center staff; use feedback to improve performance of those who aren’t providing good customer service.
  • Offer different forms of payment. Better integrate ORCA with Access and be able to have fare deducted from ORCA cards, pay with credit cards, or have a fee that doesn’t involve change.
  • Provide more opportunities for customer input.

access-glance-2015-englishNext steps

Watch this space for information about how we are responding to this feedback and opportunities to provide additional feedback. Our next phase of engagement will take place later this winter, when we’ll seek feedback how we did at responding to what we heard.

To learn more, visit metro.kingcounty.gov/programs-projects/access-transportation or contact DeAnna Martin, community relations planner, at 206-477-3835 or deanna.martin@kingcounty.gov.

Carpooling to park-and-rides? You can get a free permit for reserved parking

kirkland-pr

Park-and-rides are a great way to access transit from the suburbs and areas that lack frequent transit service. As demand for transit grows, many of Metro’s park-and-rides are already full or nearly full by early morning. At some park-and-rides, you might not find a space if you don’t arrive by 6:30 a.m.

Metro wants to make it easier for those who regularly use park-and-rides and who also are interested in carpooling. Starting February 1, some parking spaces at Metro park-and-rides will be reserved until 8:30 a.m. each morning for groups of two or more who regularly ride the bus, or use park-and-rides to meet a vanpool or other carpool.

All they have to do is obtain a free Carpool Parking Permit. Those permits are now available through Republic Parking Northwest, and customers are encouraged to obtain them early. More information can be found at Metro’s Permit Parking website.

“Metro is committed to developing innovative solutions that better serve our customers,” Metro General Manager Rob Gannon said. “This pilot program offers regular transit users more convenience as demand increases at park-and-rides.”

pr-permit-sign

Starting Feb. 1, six Metro park-and-rides will have reserved spaces until 8:30 a.m. for groups of two or more who carpool to catch the bus and display a free permit. Metro’s Daniel Rowe shows an example of new parking signs that will identify those spaces.

When park-and-rides fill up so early, many commuters — such as shift workers and working parents who have to drop off kids at daycare — are unfairly disadvantaged.

“Commuters who carpool to these busy park-and-rides now can have certainty they can find a parking space,” said Transportation Planner Daniel Rowe, who is managing the program. “That makes transit more accessible, and it does so without having to build more parking spaces at additional expense to taxpayers.”

Most park-and-ride spaces still will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. The number of reserved parking spaces will be based on the number of permits issued per location.

The program will be tested at six of the busiest park-and-rides in King County, including Redmond, Issaquah Highlands, South Kirkland, South Renton, Northgate and Eastgate. Metro’s program was designed to be integrated with Sound Transit’s new carpool permit program, which also offers permits at nine additional area park-and-rides.

Frequently asked questions

How do I obtain a permit?

Applicants must provide basic contact information, ORCA card numbers, vanpool ID, or RideshareOnline.com email for each member of the carpool. Permits are free.

Regular transit use is not initially required to obtain a permit, but at least two carpool permit-holders must average three days a transit ridership per week (12 days per month) to stay qualified. Permits can be obtained through Republic Parking Northwest, and must be renewed monthly.

Metro also is aware that customers are increasingly having to deal with those who don’t follow park-and-ride rules. In February, Metro will step up enforcement for violations, with a focus on trouble spots at the Redmond, Northgate and Eastgate park-and-rides.

Drivers who park in reserved spaces without a permit will be subject to three warnings – subsequent violations will result in having the vehicle towed.

If you have questions about permit eligibility, applications and payments call Republic Parking Northwest at 206-783-4144, extension 0. More information can be found at Metro’s Permit Parking website.

Why is Metro offering carpool permits?

Of the 54 permanent park-and-rides Metro operates, half are at 80 percent capacity or higher, and some fill up completely before the morning commute ends. In addition to being inconvenient, the “first-come-first-served” system now in place is unfair for people with later work, school or appointment schedules.

In response to increased demand, Metro is currently exploring a range of options to both manage and expand parking supply. One way to do this is to encourage people to carpool to the park-and-ride. In February 2017, we are launching a pilot program at six of our busiest park and rides that will offer free carpool parking permits to regular transit riders.

 

Are Metro carpool parking permits free?

Yes. This pilot carpool parking program we plan to launch in February is strictly voluntary, and the permits for carpool users are free. Our partner agency Sound Transit also offers carpool permits and reserved parking for $5 per month.

What’s the perk for permit holders?

In return for signing up, carpool permit holders will have reserved parking until 8:30 a.m., after which time the stalls will be available for all transit riders.

How long will the pilot program operate?

The pilot program will last for one year. At that point, permit holders and riders will be able to share their feedback about what worked well, and what could be improved.

Is Sound Transit also offering carpool permits? How is Metro’s program different? 

Sound Transit kicked off a carpool parking program last fall at nine area park-and-rides after completing its own public outreach campaign and pilot program. Metro’s program was designed to be integrated with Sound Transit’s new carpool permit program, but Metro’s carpool parking permits will be free of charge. Sound Transit’s permits cost $5 per month.

If people can’t find parking, shouldn’t they just get to the park-and-ride earlier?

Flexible work schedules aren’t an option for everyone, and many Metro customers work in a variety of occupations with schedules that don’t conform to a typical 8-to-5 business day. Those who don’t work outside the home still depend on transit to get to classes, job interviews or appointments. Making sure all riders have access to consistent service level, including parking availability, is a priority.

 What if people obtain permits and don’t carpool?

At least two carpool permit-holders must average three days a transit ridership per week (12 days per month) to stay qualified. Permits can be obtained through Republic Parking Northwest, and must be renewed monthly. Metro staff will review information to make sure permit holders meet the eligibility requirements, and revoke permits for those who no longer qualify.

Will Metro start charging for carpool permits? Or require paid parking for all riders?

Metro has no plans at this time for a paid parking system. Any changes in these plans would involve discussion with a number of local governments and other stakeholders, and we would also give transit customers an opportunity to be part of this process.

Ride Metro to Seahawks Saturday game

The Seahawks play the Arizona Cardinals Dec. 24 for a rare Saturday game, and Metro has options for fans headed to CenturyLink Field who want to avoid driving in holiday traffic. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:25 p.m.

0914transitnflstar033Visit Metro Online or Metro’s online Trip Planner to find your options for riding transit to and from the game . When planning your trip, check Metro’s Service Advisories page to find out about any known revisions to your routes.

Nearly all regularly scheduled transit service – including Sound Transit Link light rail and the First Hill Streetcar – that serves downtown Seattle also travels to or near CenturyLink Field and is a great way to get to Seahawks games and other stadium events.

Seahawks Shuttle

Metro also operates Seahawks shuttles, which serve the Eastgate park-and-ride, Northgate Transit Center, and South Kirkland park-and-ride and travel nonstop to CenturyLink Field. Metro’s park-and-ride shuttles leave parking areas two hours prior to kick off time and as they fill, with the last bus leaving about 30 minutes before kickoff. Fans who miss the shuttles can ride regularly scheduled service from the same locations to get to the game.

A cash-only, exact fare of $4 one way or $8 round trip per person is required on the shuttles. No ORCA cards, passes or transfers are accepted.  A valid regular fare is required on all other regularly scheduled Metro service. All pre-game shuttles arrive near CenturyLink Field on Fifth Avenue South at South Weller Street.

After the game, shuttle buses returning non-stop to Eastgate and South Kirkland leave from southbound on Fifth Avenue South at South Weller Street, and the Northgate shuttle leaves northbound on Fifth Avenue South from just north of South Weller Street. The last bus leaves 45 minutes after the end of the game.

For information about regular transit service to games, or to plan other trips, visit Metro Online or Metro’s online Trip Planner. When planning your trip, check Metro’s Service Advisories page to find out about any known revisions to your routes.

Metro employees deliver a busload of joy

King County Metro Transit employees have had a busy 2016 holiday season collecting toys, food and clothing to donate to children and families. So far this December, Metro employees have donated 70 coats and knit scarves and caps to the DESC-Crisis Solutions Center in Seattle. They collected 1,845 toys for Toys for Tots in King County, and roughly 500 pounds of food for the Des Moines Area Food Bank, which serves South King County.