Mercer Island Community Shuttle to be extended another 2 years

In partnership with the City of Mercer Island, King County Metro debuted the Mercer Island Community Shuttle Route 630 in June 2015 to give residents a new rush-hour option for getting to downtown Seattle after the loss of regular bus service. Launched initially as a two-year pilot, the shuttle is exceeding ridership goals and will be extended for another two years, until March 2019. Mercer Island Commnuity Shuttle_photo

The 630 Shuttle makes 10 trips per day during peak hours, from Southeast 46th Street/Island Crest Way and downtown Seattle via First Hill and includes a connection to the Mercer Island park-and-ride. It also includes flexible service for residents in the Shorewood area.

This week, Metro and Mercer Island are celebrating the 630 Shuttle’s two-year anniversary and previewing upcoming service improvements. Customers and others are invited to join the celebration from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 16, at the Mercer Island Community & Event Center.

Daily ridership is surpassing initial goals, and currently is 140 boardings per day. The shuttle is equipped with 19 seats and a wheelchair lift and a two-slot bike rack. Riders also are able to plan their trip using Metro’s online Trip Planner and track location status real time. Customers pay standard Metro fares and can use their ORCA cards.

Upcoming improvements will include moving the first stop to a sheltered location and extending the flexible service area.

The 630 Shuttle was launched under Metro’s Alternative Services program, now known as Community Connections, which focuses on cost-efficient solutions in areas that don’t have the infrastructure, density or land use to support, regular fixed-route bus service. Services can include routes with flexible service areas, real-time ridesharing between home neighborhoods and transit centers, reservation-based local trips and private carpool ridematching.

Plan ahead: Overlake Transit Center and South Bellevue Park-and-Rides to close

hero_riderguide_overlakeTCThe Overlake Transit Center Park-and- Ride closes for up to six years on Monday, May 1, and Metro and Sound Transit are ready with options and resources to help customers plan an alternate commute.

The park-and-ride will close for construction of the new East Link light rail extension from Seattle to Redmond. Metro and Sound Transit customers are encouraged to plan ahead and take advantage of trip-planning resources that are available.

East Link construction also will cause the South Bellevue Park-and-Ride to close May 30. Customers who use that park & ride also are encouraged to start planning ahead.

Sound Transit has leased several park & ride lots from property owners nearby and there are other existing lots with spaces available. More information on those locations is available via this map on Sound Transit’s website.

For commuters who want to try something new, Metro’s JustOneTrip.org has information on alternatives to driving such as carpooling, vanpooling and biking and walking connections; or where they can fill out a form to request a custom trip plan. Customers also can call (206) 553-3000 to speak with a customer service representative who can help plan a route.

Metro and Sound Transit buses and Microsoft shuttles will continue to serve the Overlake Transit Center while the park & ride is closed. Routes that serve the Overlake Transit Center include Metro routes 232, 243, 244, 245, 249, 268, 269, and the RapidRide B Line, and ST routes 541, 542, 545, 566 and 567.

For more information on Overlake Transit Center Park & Ride closure May 1:

Plan for service delays/reroutes during March for Science and weekend events

It’s going to be a busy weekend in the Seattle area, with big runs, walks and a March for Science that is expected to draw tens of thousands  downtown.

Transit riders should plan for reroutes and significant service delays due to traffic, crowds and congestion associated with these events. Riders are urged to sign up for transit alerts to get the latest information.

Saturday

March for Science — Earth Day:  Buses serving Pine Street and Fourth Avenue will be rerouted as thousands are expected to march from Cal Anderson Park to Seattle Center to show support for science and celebrate Earth Day. The march is scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to  3 p.m. See all the affected routes on Metro’s Service Advisories page.

Customers should plan for significant delays.eventLogo_MarchForScience_banner

The Tenacious Ten Run: From 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., routes 40 and 70 will be rerouted as follows:

  • Route 40: Heading toward Northgate, Route 40 will be rerouted off of Westlake Avenue N between Thomas Street and Fourth Avenue North, and will travel via Dexter Avenue North instead.
  • Routes  70: Heading toward downtown Seattle, route 70 will be rerouted off of Northeast Campus Parkway between Brooklyn Avenue Northeast and the southbound ramp to the University Bridge.  The 40 and 70 will serve all regular and temporary posted bus stops along their reroutes.
  • Route 40 to downtown Seattle, and route 70 to the University District: These buses will operate via their regular routes and stops, but may experience delays.

Nalamasu Baraat Processional: From 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., route 125 will be rerouted off First Avenue in downtown Seattle and will not serve the stop on First Avenue at University Street.  It will travel instead via Third Avenue.

Sunday

All in for Autism Run/Walk in Bellevue: From 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Routes 240, 241, 249 and Sound Transit’s ST 550 will be rerouted off Northeast Fourth Street, Bellevue Way Northeast/Southeast and 112th Avenue Northeast/Southeast.

Have a say on simpler bus fares

King County Metro wants to hear from riders as we work to simplify our bus fares. This month, Metro launched the second round of our fare review process, with an online survey for people to tell us which of two potential options they prefer.

Adult fare riders currently pay $2.50, $2.75 or $3.25, depending on time of day and whether they travel across zone boundaries. It’s a complex fare structure that can confuse riders, and consequently, slow down boarding.fare_image

Metro presented two options this week for simplifying fares:

  • Option 1: A $2.75 flat fare with no surcharges for traveling during peak commute hours or across zones.
  • Option 2: A $3 peak/$2.50 off-peak fare. Riders would no longer pay extra for crossing zones but would still pay a higher rate during peak hours (6–9 a.m. and 3 – 6 p.m. weekdays).

Now it’s your turn to tell us what you think by participating in an online questionnaire by May 5 or by attending a public meeting on April 25 or 27. The April 27 meeting will be held online.

Details are available at www.kingcounty.gov/metro/farereview.

Metro and the six other regional transit agencies that make up the ORCA smart-card system are looking at simplifying fares across all agencies in preparation for modernization of the ORCA system.

The two options listed above would not include changes to ORCA Lift, youth, senior, disabled or Access fares. ORCA_cards

In addition to seeking broad public input, Metro has convened an advisory group to consider various fare options and advise on additional work Metro needs to do to decrease barriers for fare payment. The group, which has already met twice and will meet a third time in May, represents employers, human service organizations, advocacy groups and others. They provide advice on the near and long-term fare options. Meetings are open to the public for observation.

Metro will incorporate the recommendations in a final proposal, which is expected to be transmitted to the King County Council this summer.

More than 4,500 people participated in a Metro survey earlier this month that asked customers to list their priorities for a simpler bus fare. Faster boarding, promoting safety for operators and passengers by reducing fare disputes, and keeping fares affordable for people with low incomes were top priorities. Metro has heard from customers, including many who pay with cash, that fares can be difficult to understand. Simpler fares promote the safety of operators and customers by reducing the potential for fare disputes, and can lead to faster boarding.

Metro encourages all transit riders to participate, including youth, older adults, students, ORCA LIFT riders, riders with disabilities, as well as schools, employers and community-based organizations. Metro also is contracting with community organizations to hear from harder-to-reach populations so their input is considered as Metro assesses options and develops programs to address affordability and access to transit.

 

Metro’s Anita Whitfield: Paving the way for equity in public transit

0317AnitaWhitfieldWTSaward175As Metro’s EEO/Diversity and Inclusion Manager, Anita Whitfield has been breaking down barriers and instilling a shared sense of responsibility for promoting equity and social justice.

Whitfield has worked to create a culture where employees feel safe to have difficult discussions about historical and current inequities. She’s led training for many employees (which she calls “shared learning opportunities”), and played an instrumental role in shaping a vision for making Metro and King County government more equitable for all employees and residents.

Whitfield recently was honored by the Puget Sound chapter of the Women’s Transportation Seminar with the Rosa Parks Diversity Leadership Award. The award recognizes outstanding efforts in promoting opportunities for women and minorities in the transportation industry.

“Mobility is a civil right,” said Whitfield, who currently doubles as interim general manager for employee services. “I accept this award on behalf of the managers and employees at King County Metro Transit who are stepping authentically into this work and striving together to equitably serve all King County residents — especially those who are transit dependent.”

In nominating Whitfield for the award, Metro General Manager Rob Gannon said she is at the forefront of a cultural change at Metro.

“She is leading trainings, acting as a confidant and liaison, and paving the way for change,” he said.

Gannon wrote:

 “When we had the unfortunate experience of having our Martin Luther King Jr. Logo defaced in combination with a racial slur, Anita used this experience as a teachable moment to bring together staff, talk about what happened, and address the issue head-on. In another example, when women wearing traditional attire were harassed on a bus, Anita took the initiative to use that negative and harmful experience to partner with the Council on American-Islamic Relations and host them at Metro for a Lunch and Learn.

“Anita practices what she preaches and confronts difficult situations head on with grace and humility, taking a stand against racism and hate, while providing a space for conversation, dialogue and the opportunity to move forward.

Whitfield says her goal is for everyone to see they are in this together, and to understand that the harm done to some actually hurts us all.

She credits Gannon for his leadership on this work in public transit and “who himself is traveling his own journey to understand his own privilege.” She also credits Director of Transportation Harold Taniguchi, as well as County Executive Dow Constantine for his courage in leading King County’s first Equity and Social Justice Strategic Plan.

Whitfield returned to the Department of Transportation three years ago to help shape the agency’s execution of its commitment to Equity and Social Justice.  Ultimately, she joined Metro and became part of the PACE (Partnership to Achieve Comprehensive Equity) leadership team. PACE, a partnership between employees, management and unions, was formed to address longstanding inequities in the workplace, and resulted in numerous recommendations on how to make Metro a more equitable organization for all employees.  Those recommendations and others are being implemented across Metro.

Under her guidance, Metro is moving forward to reach the PACE goal of building and sustaining an inclusive, fair and equitable workplace for everyone.

Whitfield’s first stop at Metro was 30 years ago before the merger of Metro and King County. She worked as a clerk typist at Metro’s East Base in Bellevue.  The job listing said applicants were required to have a car to commute from Seattle. She was coming from Seattle’s South End, but didn’t own a car.

So her new boss stepped in.

“He would pick me up every day and bring me to work until I could save up enough money to buy a car,” she said.

In the years in between her current and former roles at Metro, Whitfield went on to become a lawyer, open a business, and serve as Human Resources director for King County among other things.

Whitfield says she is encouraged by the Rosa Parks award, but knows there is more work to do.

“I don’t accept this award for the achievement because there is still so much farther to go to reach our goal of true equity and inclusiveness, but I accept it for the encouragement,” she said.

“It is more important now than ever that we come together and stay true to who we want to be as a community.”

New Blanchard bus lane to improve travel times for riders

Bus riders on three busy Metro routes will see faster travel times with the installation of a new bus-only lane on five blocks of Blanchard Street through BellBlanchard_lane_graphictown.

The new eastbound bus lane between Third Avenue and Westlake Avenue, along with a bus-only signal at one-way Blanchard Street and Westlake Avenue, will help improve reliability for the route 40, route 62 and the C Line. More than 200 bus trips will be able to bypass traffic-clogged lanes during the weekday rush hours, saving many riders 4 minutes per trip and much more on days when traffic is severely congested.

The bus-only lane was funded by the Seattle Department of Transportation, and initially will be active from 6 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m. on weekdays only.

At the same time, Metro has selected the Route 40, which connects downtown, Fremont, Ballard and Northgate; the 62, which stretches from downtown to Sand Point,  and the C Line between South Lake Union and West Seattle, for additional bus trips as part of the March 11 service change. The three routes are among several throughout King County to get additional trips during peak hours to help keep pace with high demand and reduce crowding on buses.

The changes are part of the first round of improvements approved in the 2017-2018 budget. Metro Transit’s two-year budget invests $30 million in better service and better schedules, including investments in some transit schedules that provide transit operators with improved restroom access and break to help ensure that bus trips start on schedule.

Details are now posted on Metro’s website and people can begin pre-planning their trips using Metro’s Trip Planner app by entering a travel date of March 11 or later.  Changes are also included in a Rider Alert brochure and new teal-colored timetables that are being distributed on buses and at customer service locations.

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

 

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.