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.

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.

Ride transit to Sounders victory celebration – but plan for downtown street closures

Congratulations to the Seattle Sounders FC on their 2016 MLS Cup championship! Now it’s time for all of Seattle to celebrate during a victory march Tuesday (Dec. 13)  through downtown, followed by a rally at Seattle Center.

Thousands of people are expected to attend. The march is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. at Westlake Center from Fourth Avenue and Pine Street and travel north before turning right on Cedar Street, and then north on Fifth Avenue before stopping at Seattle Center.

A rally is expected to follow from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

sounders_frie

Sounders FC goalkeeper Stefan Frei is greeted as the team arrived Sunday at King County International Airport/Boeing Field. 

Fans can ride transit to and from the parade, either by Metro, Link light rail or Sounder train. But plan ahead, and make sure to leave early, as several streets, including Fourth Avenue, will be closed during the march. Metro will reroute buses from Fourth Avenue once the street is closed to traffic. Specific route information is posted on Metro’s Service Advisories page.

Metro urges all transit riders Tuesday morning to plan ahead and prepare for possible delays. Riders also can sign up for Transit Alerts to get the most current information before you travel. to get the most current information before you travel. Information is available via text, email, tweets  @kcmetrobus, RSS via desktop or the mobile RSS reader.

Any transit service that travels to or through downtown Seattle will get fans close to the event. Returning downtown from Seattle Center, transit riders can ride the Seattle Center Monorail, or any bus southbound on Queen Anne, Fifth, Dexter, or Westlake Avenues. Again, expect crowds and likely delays.

For those traveling by light rail, Sound Transit will operate extra 3-car trains to accommodate crowds. Fans from South King County can return home via midday Sounder train service to Lakewood, which departs King Street Station at 2:32 p.m. Tuesday’s train will have four cars instead of the usual 2-car train.

 

RapidRide D Line gets extra bus trip to cover growing student ridership

Metro is always monitoring bus routes for reliability and frequency. Starting Dec. 1, Metro added an extra afternoon bus trip to the Rapidrapidride_d_scheduleRide D Line through Ballard to alleviate overcrowding as increasing numbers of students from Ballard High School ride the bus home.

Over the last few months, we heard from riders and operators about an increase in high school students boarding the D Line buses after the school bell rings. Metro has been using a standby bus on some days, which are placed along the route to fill gaps in service, typically when traffic is bad or buses are getting crowded.

Metro has now assigned the standby bus permanently. It enters service at 3:16 p.m., heading southbound from 15th Avenue Northwest and Northwest 85th Street to help cover the overflow near the high school and continue service to downtown.

The D Line is the second busiest of Metro’s six RapidRide routes and continues growing strong since it was extended to Pioneer Square. In October, the D Line hauled an average of more than 15,000 passengers every day. That’s a 22 percent increase over its ridership in October 2015.

The extra trip is an example of little changes Metro makes when possible to respond to concerns and emerging challenges. Twice a year, Metro also unveils big system-wide service changes — in March and September — to improve the frequency, reliability and access of our bus routes.