Expect transit delays during Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon and Fremont Solstice Parade

Seattle celebrates two big annual traditions this weekend for those ready to rock ‘n’ run and bike in the buff. Metro buses The Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon and Fremont Solstice Parade both will affect transit service, so riders should plan ahead and prepare for delays due to street closures and crowds.

Fremont Solstice Parade/Saturday

The Fremont Solstice Parade  starts Saturday at 1 p.m. from Northwest 39th Street and Fremont_solstice_avatarLeary Way Northwest and travels east along North 36th Street on its way to Gas Works Park.

Metro will operate a special shuttle from downtown to the south end of the Fremont Bridge. The shuttle service will operate every 15 minutes, from  10 a.m. to 7 p.m., starting from Sixth Avenue and Blanchard Street. Regular fares, transit passes and paper transfers will be accepted. (Try not to get body paint or glitter on the seats, please!)

Several bus routes that normally serve the Fremont area will be rerouted during Saturday’s parade, including routes 31, 32, 40 and 62. Sign up for transit alerts or check Metro online for service alerts.

Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon/Sunday

On Sunday, runners will be out bright and early for the Alaska Airlines Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon and half-marathon. The full race starts this year from Husky Stadium and makes its way through the Arboretum, down along Seward Park, up through the Rainier Valley and over to State Route 99 before looping back to CenturyLink Field.

For transit service during the race, the following routes will be affected by street closures: 2, 5, 7, 8, 14, 26, 27, 28, 43, 44, 45, 48, 50, 65, 106, 120, 125, 271, RapidRide C, D and E Lines, ST 522, ST 545 and ST 554. The Route 7 reroute will temporarily end at at Rainier Avenue South and South McClellan Street.

While runners are in the Rainier Valley, between 5:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., regular Route 7 service will operate between downtown Seattle and the Mount Baker Transit Center, and a free shuttle bus will provide service every 20 minutes between the Mount Baker Transit Center and South Henderson Street.

For information about regular transit service, 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 has new ideas for transportation in Sammamish

Metro is IMG_1704working with the City of Sammamish to develop innovative, customized services to meet local transportation needs.

Almost 500 people took our survey in January to tell us about transportation needs in Sammamish. We reviewed this feedback with the help of a stakeholder group and developed four service ideas that are tailor-made for Sammamish.

Tell us what you think by June 16

Take a survey: www.surveymonkey.com/r/SammamishMCC.

Learn about Metro’s Community Connections project in Sammamish: http://kingcounty.gov/metro/alt-sammamish

Plan ahead: South Bellevue Park-and-Ride closes May 30

The South Bellevue Park-and-Ride closes Tuesday, May 30, and Metro and Sound Transit are ready to help commuters who use the 519-stall facility find new options.

Sound Transit has to close the park-and-ride for up to five years to make room for construction of the East Link light rail extension from Seattle to Redmond. It’s the second big change this month for Eastside commuters, following closure of the Overlake Transit Center on May 1 — also to accommodate light rail construction.

While it may be stressful for some commuters to adjust, Metro and Sound Transit are here to help.

New locations

Sound Transit has leased several park-and-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.

Customers may also want to try an alternate location that has spots available and offers direct bus service to Seattle, such as the South Sammamish, Tibbetts Creek, and South Kirkland Park-and-Rides. But plan ahead because those locations may fill up sooner.

ST Park_and_Ride map

Park-and-ride options during East Link construction.

How to get more info

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 online to request assistance creating a custom trip plan.

Metro’s customer service representatives (commute counselors) are available to help with online requests or to answer questions over the phone at (206) 553-3000.

Metro also is working to more efficiently manage other park-and-ride locations so as many transit customers can use them as possible.  This month, Metro stepped up enforcement at park-and-rides to ensure people are following the rules and spaces are being used by transit customers.

Metro will have extra staff monitoring park-and-rides with high rates of complaints and violations, such as Eastgate, Kingsgate, Redmond and Northgate, to make more room for transit customers and maintain a safe parking environment.

Carpool Parking Permit program

Metro also leases park-and-ride spaces on available properties near transit hubs (provided at no cost to transit riders) and launched a Carpool Parking Permit program in February that allows drivers with two or more regular transit riders (average of three days of ridership per week) to reserve spaces at any of six area park-and-rides.

Metro also launched a new partnership with Diamond Parking Service that connects people with new fee-based parking on commercial and residential properties near major bus routes.

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