About Jeff Switzer, King County DOT

Communications and public information officer at KCDOT

What the new timeline for Convention Place Station means for riders

Crossposted from KCDOT’s Inside Transportation blog

This week’s King County Council approval of the sale of Convention Place Station for expansion of the Convention Center will bring a steady and reliable stream of revenue to Metro Transit – an aggregated $275 million over 32 years to support service and reliability improvements that begin to address the need for sustainable growth in bus service throughout the region.

Architectural rendering of the planned Washington State Convention Center expansion

Courtesy LMN Architects

Construction for Convention Center expansion will require closure of the site. The station was always slated for permanent closure – light rail already bypasses it by going straight from Westlake to Capitol Hill, and Metro has been planning for removal of all buses from the downtown transit tunnel as early as September 2018.Convention Place Station serves Metro and other bus routes

With the sale now complete, here’s what riders can expect:

  • Removal of the remaining seven bus routes that use the tunnel in March 2019 or September 2019, depending on when the Convention Center secures needed permits.
  • Initial work to continue at the site to relocate a transit power station which sends electricity to trolley buses in the area. A new traction power substation is being installed this weekend. Later, riders will see construction of a temporary ramp at Convention Place Station – providing a path for the seven bus routes up to temporary surface stops on Ninth Avenue.
  • Increased constraints on mobility for all modes of traffic in downtown Seattle, as private commercial construction (just count the number of cranes) and many public projects – including demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, waterfront construction, and new streetcar tracks – constrict downtown streets from 2019 to 2023.
  • Continued opportunities to tell Metro what you think about revisions to bus service which will be needed to maintain a reliable public transit system connecting downtown Seattle and the rest of the region.

With the new timeline for Convention Place Station and the Downtown Transit Tunnel, Metro is reassessing its plans and opportunities for the public to weigh in, and will have more information in the coming months on when and how the public can “Have a Say.”

In the meantime, Metro is continuing work with the City of Seattle, Sound Transit, and downtown businesses in a One Center City process to minimize impacts and provide reliable transit service to our customers.

Keep in touch on all these changes by following our social media:

Weekend construction: no bus service inside the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel July 1-2; Link light rail remains in service

Due to scheduled weekend construction at Convention Place Station, buses will not be operating in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel July 1-2. Customers who normally ride bus routes 41, 101, 150, 255 & Sound Transit Express Route 550 in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel will instead board or exit buses on surface streets.

Photo of rider alert sign posted at International District Station

This Rider Alert is posted at International District Station. Alerts are posted at each tunnel station with instructions to riders about changes to bus service July 1-2; Link trains will continue to operate in the tunnel.

NOTE! Sound Transit Link light rail will continue to operate in the tunnel. Buses are scheduled to return to service in the tunnel Monday morning, July 3.

Tunnel buses will travel the surface street routing they use when the tunnel is closed, as indicated on Rider Alerts posted at tunnel stations and on surface street bus stop signs along Second and Fourth avenues, Fifth Avenue South, Olive Way, Stewart and Virginia streets. Details are in Metro’s Alert Center.

Construction crews are scheduled to install a new traction power substation, which powers area electric trolley buses, as Metro’s Convention Place Station property is prepared for sale.

Nighttime construction continues after 9 p.m. on weekdays at Convention Place Station, during which riders board buses only at Bay letter “Ι.”

Ride with Pride: Metro celebrates and honors LGBTQ riders and employees

Editor’s Note: Plan to travel early and prepare for service delays and crowded transit service as an estimated 200,000 people will be downtown for the parade. Transit service will be rerouted Sunday, June 25, off of Fourth Avenue in Seattle from about 7 a.m. to the late evening during the Seattle Pride Parade.

This weekend, Metro is proud to participate in the Seattle Pride Parade. On behalf of our employees and riders who identify as LGBTQ, we march with you.

King County is reaffirming its steadfast commitment to fairness, justice and diversity. At a time when the rights of many in our country are under threat, our community is strong and supports our LGBTQ employees and customers.

When we hear stories of bus drivers and riders who help and care for each other, it represents the best of our greater community.

Every member of our community is entitled to travel without fear, free of harassment, intimidation or harm. Each customer is expected to ride in a way that is respectful of other customers and conforms with Metro’s Code of Conduct. Join us in our pledge to make our transit system safer, more inclusive, and we will be stronger together.

“Whether you arrived here last week or whether you’ve lived here for five generations, you belong here” – King County Executive Dow Constantine

Dow Constantinte and Joe McDermott raise the Pride flag at King County's administration building June 23, 2017.

Metro is taking action to address cost, quality, and equity in Access paratransit

(Editor’s Note: Updated 7/18/17 to include a chart of the audit’s recommendations and how Metro is addressing them, as presented to the King County Council)

By Chris O’Claire, Metro Transit Assistant General Manager, and Priscilla Vargas, Managing Director of Paratransit & Rideshare Operations

Metro Transit is committed to continuing to improve the Access paratransit service we provide to qualifying riders who cannot ride fixed-route bus service. The King County Auditor’s Office has presented the findings of a performance audit of Access Transportation to the King County Council. Metro concurs with the recommendations of the audit and is moving forward to address each of them.

The audit results echo feedback Metro staff solicited and received from customers over the last year, even as Metro worked collaboratively with the auditor. Metro listened to public feedback from customers, caregivers, stakeholders, and a community advisory group. Together, this feedback identified areas of improvement that Metro used to inform current and future service improvements.

How Metro is responding to the Paratransit Audit

How Metro is responding to the Paratransit Audit. (Click to enlarge)

In recent months, Metro has already taken steps to reduce costs, better monitor and enforce cost controls and good service quality, and assure equitable access to Access Transportation. Specifically,

  • Metro is buying smaller paratransit vans this summer to improve service flexibility and performance.
  • More fare payment options will be available to customers this summer.
  • New online scheduling features will be implemented later this year so customers can make ride requests outside of normal business hours.
  • Under a new contract expected in 2018, Metro will conduct a monthly review of the mix of service being used to provide rides with the goal to optimize the most cost-effective service. In addition, the contractor will have financial incentives to reduce the cost of each trip and financial disincentives intended to avoid higher trip costs.
  • Also under the new contract, Metro has defined a contract management plan that specifies contract compliance, methods for verifying compliance, and a schedule for reviewing and enforcing performance standards.
  • (Revised) Metro has agreed to adjust drop-off times has already taken action under our current contract to schedule drop-off to no more than 30 minutes from the start of an appointment time by the end of 2017.
  • Preventing excessively long trips: The scheduling system has a series of parameters that ensure trips are scheduled consistent with comparable fixed route trips; however, actual on street conditions can result in longer than a
    nticipated trips. Longer than anticipated trip times area also experienced by users of the fixed route system when the on-street conditions result in the actual trip taking longer than the scheduled trip. Metro staff currently monitor the trip lengths which are also subject to review by the FTA. If a customer feels they have experienced an excessively long trip, we encourage them to report it to Metro customer service so we can monitor emerging patterns in customer experiences and take action if performance falls short of FTA requirements.
  • Access will explore translating its “Access Ride Guide” into King County’s 13 top tier languages. A shorter summary of services is currently translated into 10 languages and some materials are translated online as part of our commitment to address language barriers to our materials. Translation and interpreter services already used by Access also bridge the language challenge experienced by some Access customers as they apply for and use services. Access also works with Community Access Transportation program to better meet the unique needs and help overcome the language barriers of various communities.
  • Access also will work with the Executive’s Office and DOT Director’s Office to begin the Equity Impact Review. The process will include review of the E
  • quity Impact Analysis tool as well as tools currently used by Metro to conduct equity analysis for the fixed route system.

More details about these actions are provided in a survey available to customers now. Access customer prepares to board service provided by MetroMetro mailed this survey to active Access users and has been talking directly with customers in outreach events targeted to hear from populations with limited English proficiency or other barriers to completing a paper or online survey. Metro is invested in making sure we heard from our customers and that the actions we intend to take will respond to their concerns. The survey is available online in English and Spanish is open through the end of June.

Metro’s bus fleet is currently 100 percent accessible to riders with disabilities. For riders with disabilities who cannot ride the public bus system, Metro provides a paratransit service, fully complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Metro also goes above and beyond the ADA to better serve areas and times not served by bus service and at a lower fare – a key element that can drive up costs while we fulfill King County’s greater mission of providing mobility to those who are most dependent.

Metro is committed to continually looking at improvements to the system as we move forward, and we will work with the King County Auditor’s Office and the public to make progress on the recommendations. We look forward to working together to providing a service that is responsive to our customer’s needs.

UPDATE! WORK COMPLETE! UW buses (no longer) face reroutes on campus June 12-25


From Monday, June 12 until about Sunday, June 25, with one 2-day exception, Metro routes 32, 67, 75, 78, 277 and 372, and Sound Transit Express Route 540 will be rerouted off of Grant Lane and Stevens Way, due to construction on the University of Washington campus. We’ve made a handy map to help it all make sense.

During this time, these routes, while traveling in any direction, will travel instead via 15th Avenue Northeast, Northeast Pacific Street and Montlake Boulevard Northeast to and from their regular routes, and depending on the route, destination and direction of travel.

Map depicts bus stops temporarily closed on UW campus June 12-25 and alternate stop locations.

Click map to access PDF of planned bus stop closures on UW Campus June 12-25

The one exception to the approximate two-week UW campus road closure is the weekend of Saturday and Sunday, June 17 and 18, during which the UW campus and bus stops will be open and these reroutes will not be in effect.

At times when the campus roads are closed and these reroutes are in effect, transit riders should expect possible delays in service for the affected routes. Use the regularly published timetables, wait at designated stops along the reroute and expect possible delays.  Allow plenty of travel time for trips that use these routes.


Safety is always Metro’s #1 priority

By Grantley Martelly, Metro Transit Managing Director of Safety and Security

Metro Transit’s track record for safely operating service is among the best in the country – and an ongoing focus of everyone at the organization, from drivers to mechanics to managers.

That’s essential. We’re a transit agency that traveled about 44 million miles last year, carrying more than 121 million riders. We do that through congested streets and highways – and are mindful of more pedestrians each year.

Drivers must always be vigilant to operate our buses safely.

For all the millions of people served and millions of miles traveled, Metro experiences about two dozen pedestrian collisions each year, ranging from people running into the side of our moving buses to more serious collisions while turning in an intersection.

Metro cares about its customers, its drivers, pedestrians and the public it serves. That’s why Metro is focused on training operators to operate safely. We also are implementing a comprehensive safety review, funded by savings we achieved by reducing collisions in past years.

In February and April this year we recorded zero pedestrian collisions, and our year to date total is four collisions – much lower than 10 we had in the same time period in 2016.

graph of Metro pedestrian collisions 2006-2016, with totals peaking halfway through the time period and decreasing generally over time.

It’s good news, but not really a cause for celebration – each new day brings with it challenges and our 2,700 operators must always take great care to travel safely on our roads.

We check with customers regularly to make sure we are meeting their expectations, and strive to improve where we are not. We ask customers how safe they feel with how our drivers are driving, and 95% reported they are satisfied – 76% of which are very satisfied.

Based on 2015 reports to the National Transit Database, we rank sixth in the country among the 30 largest transit operators based on all collisions per miles traveled.

Each collision has the potential for serious injury and represents the highest and most costly risk as we operate transit service. When these rare collisions occur, we investigate, make corrections and sometimes are responsible for settlements to cover the injuries received by a pedestrian.

Working with King County Risk Management, Metro addresses claims and lawsuits deriving from incidents involving our transit system. The outcomes vary depending on many factors.

Our goal is zero collisions, zero incidents, and our work is focused on achieving that.

Visit our online open house through May 22 to learn about Northgate TOD effort

Thank you to those who attended our open house this past weekend for the Northgate Transit Oriented Development (TOD) project. We appreciate the nearly 300 community members and transit riders who took the time to learn about the project and share their thoughts with the team.

For those that were unable to attend, information presented at the meeting and the opportunity to provide feedback is available online through May 22 at NorthgateTOD.Participate.Online. Please visit and share your thoughts.

About the Northgate Transit Oriented  Development project

King County and the City of Seattle are working together to redevelop King County’s property near the Northgate Mall and future Northgate Link Light Rail Station. The project will replace an existing surface parking lot and transit center with a residential, commercial, and retail development. A portion of the redevelopment is planned to open as soon as 2021 when the new bus and light rail station opens. This project will also provide an opportunity for new public benefits such as open space, pedestrian and bicycle paths, and affordable housing in this area.

Para solicitar esta información en español, sírvase llamar al 206-263-9988 o envíe un mensaje de correo electrónico a deanna.martin@kingcounty.gov.

If you have questions, please contact DeAnna Martin, King County Community Relations Planner, deanna.martin@kingcounty.gov or visit the project website kingcounty.gov/northgate.

Do you use Access Transportation? Find out what Metro has planned and let us know how well we listened 

Invitation to provide feedback on changes planned in near, mid, and long-term

King County Metro is inviting more feedback through a survey of customers on how actions planned now, under a new contract, and in the future address key concerns identified by customers.

To better serve Access Transportation customers, Metro already is taking steps to improve service under existing contracts. Those steps include improved scheduling and routing for customers, an upcoming option later this year for making online reservations, and updated travel time estimates that account for current traffic congestion levels.

Access vanUnder a new contract, Metro will do a number of things, including increasing performance goals and incentives and disincentives for meeting those goals, have Metro customer service handle customer complaints, and provide more travel options for customers at the time of booking.

More work remains aside from the current and upcoming contracts, and Metro will continue to explore other changes requested by riders, including flexible pilot programs, vehicle tracking and arrival time estimates and options for paying fares.

Members of the public can learn more about these actions and provide feedback on them via a survey or attending an outreach event through June 5. A link to the survey and calendar of events is available on the project website.

On April 13, Metro released a Request for Proposal for Access Transportation service. Customer feedback, work with a national consultant to help identify service models that were appropriate for King County, outreach to multiple agencies across the Country to gain insight into best practices being applied at other transit locations, and preliminary findings from a King County audit, which is still in process, were taken into consideration in preparing the request for proposals. Information about the Request for Proposals is available at King County’s procurement website.

Metro and its contractors work to provide safe, reliable and consistent Access Transportation services for customers. We appreciate and value the feedback of customers and advocates as we work to improve existing service and strive to improve service going forward.

Need information about this process, the survey, or a calendar of events in a different format?

Leave us a message at 206-263-9768 with your phone number and a good time to reach you. We’ll call you back to discuss options.


Convention Place Station will have nighttime construction

The Convention Place Station at the north end of the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel will undergo construction activity from spring to fall 2017. Most work will take place on weeknights after 9 p.m.

Impacts will be minimal to customers, and signage will be posted at the facility to help customers understand what changes will be taking place that may impact their route or bus stop locations. Customers should follow signs to access available escalators, stairs and elevators to reach transit service.

Beginning May 2, on weeknights from 9 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., Metro routes 101, 150 and Sound Transit Route 550 will serve Bay letter “I” at Convention Place Station for both boarding and exiting buses, instead of Bays C, D and E.  At all other times, all buses that serve Convention Place Station will serve their normal stops. No schedule impacts are expected.

May Day is today: Expect major transit service disruptions Monday, May 1

(Editor’s note: UPDATED INFORMATION Monday 11 a.m.: Revised map from SDOT, now showing only this afternoon’s march.)

Transit riders should prepare for significant traffic delays and rerouted buses in downtown Seattle on Monday, May 1, especially during the afternoon and evening commute, as dozens of Metro and Sound Transit routes will be temporarily rerouted or intermittently delayed during May Day events. Seattle First Hill and South Lake Union streetcar service also will be affected on May 1 as a result of planned marches.

As city streets temporarily close as a result of planned May Day activities, certain Metro Transit buses will be rerouted; others will face delays starting midday and likely well into the evening.

  • Bus reroutes are planned around the Immigration March (Judkins Park to Seattle Center) around 1 p.m., rerouting 11 Metro routes (7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 36, 43, 47, 49 & 106) and delaying ST Express Routes 522, 545, 554 and all other transit service traveling downtown Seattle streets.

    SDOT map of planned march, click for details on their blog

  • Bus rolling slowdowns or temporary short-term reroutes will be implemented as needed for all other expected and unexpected demonstrations, marches and rallies, managed by transit chiefs using information from Seattle Police Department, Seattle Emergency Operations Center and the Metro Transit Control Center.
  • First Hill Streetcar service is expected to be disrupted during the day, and part of the route will not be served while marchers are on the street.
  • South Lake Union Streetcar service might be disrupted by a march expected to occur between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. As a result, streetcar service will be halted at 9 a.m. after the end of the morning peak service, with cars tentatively scheduled to return to the base yard until supervisors determine service can be reliably restored.
  • Link light rail service will operate more three-car trains during the day.

What do riders need to know?

  • All bus service that travels near or through the downtown Seattle area might be subject to delays during and after Monday afternoon’s events. Bus riders are advised to plan ahead for longer trips, revise travel plans if necessary and allow plenty of travel time.
  • Though we’ll try to keep bus service moving, if demonstrations temporarily block a street, buses will have to wait until traffic begins moving again. Safety is Metro’s top priority.
  • If gridlock happens, predicted arrival times on apps and real-time signs will not be accurate in estimating when buses will be at stops.

Tools for riders