Ticket vending machine issue affecting some ORCA customers

Staff are working to address a technical issue with Sound Transit’s ticket vending machines that may have affected some ORCA customers. TVM_ORCA.jpg

It has come to our attention some ORCA customers seeking to purchase monthly passes for October have instead purchased passes for November, resulting in “insufficient funds” messages when the cards are used. Any rider who encounters this issue can tap as they normally do when boarding, as transit operators and fare enforcement staff are aware of the technical issue.

Purchasers of monthly passes are given two options at vending machines: revalue an existing pass or add a new one. The technical issue is related to the “revalue” option. Until the resolution of the issue, estimated for later this month, customers are advised to choose the “add new” option and select the correct month.

Customers with affected cards can visit a Metro customer service office or call ORCA customer service number on the back of the ORCA card at 888-988-6722.

Metro’s reduced-fare ORCA LIFT program earns VISION 2040 award

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(L-R) Patty Hayes, Director of Public Health – Seattle & King County; Josh Brown, Executive Director of the Puget Sound Regional Council; Daphne Pie, Manager of the Access and Outreach program; Mike Fong, King County Chief Operating Officer; and Rob Gannon, General Manager of King County Metro.

King County Metro’s ORCA LIFT program was recognized Monday with the Puget Sound Regional Council’s VISION 2040 award.  The award recognizes innovative projects and programs that help ensure a sustainable future as the region grows.

ORCA LIFT, launched by County Executive Dow Constantine in 2015, is considered the nation’s leading reduced-fare program for transit passengers who earn a lower income. The 50,000-plus passengers who have signed up for ORCA LIFT have tapped their cards for more than 11 million boardings.

Much of ORCA LIFT’s success is due to the innovative partnership between Metro and Public Health – Seattle & King County, tapping into the effective network of community partners that King County created to help 200,000 people sign up for affordable healthcare.

“You have created a program that works,” said PSRC Executive Director Josh Brown, who presented the award during a ceremony at Public Health’s Access and Outreach Office in Pioneer Square, where customers can sign up for ORCA LIFT and other services like medical and food. “You’ve made it easy for people to sign up and use the transit system seamlessly with all users.”

See King County TV‘s coverage of the presentation below.

 

Passengers can sign up for an ORCA LIFT card at 45 locations, including colleges, food banks, human service providers, nonprofit organizations and health clinics. People with household income of less than double the federal poverty level (as established by US Health and Human Services Department) qualify for ORCA LIFT.

In feedback to Metro, customers have shared how ORCA LIFT is making a difference:

“ORCA LIFT completely affects the quality if my life. The stress of worrying about how much bus fare I need for the day, or where I’m going to get it; is totally alleviated by the Orca LIFT program.

“The discounted ORCA LIFT fare allows me to afford for job training program with school attending, so I can survive under the tough financial situation with my kids.”

Other metropolitan regions – including Boston, Charlotte, Minneapolis and Portland – have contacted King County about starting a similar reduced-fare program.

More information is available on the ORCA LIFT website.

 

Link Connections SR-520: Next steps on the future of Eastside-downtown bus service

Metro and Sound Transit recently asked for customer input on two concepts for improving bus service across State Route 520. Our concepts would restructure bus service to and from the Eastside to connect at Husky Stadium with fast, reliable Link light rail into downtown. The changes would help keep people moving as major construction and worsening congestion make the commute to and from downtown Seattle longer and less reliable. 520-Link-Connections

The savings from sending fewer buses into downtown would be re-invested into expanded service, more frequency and new direct connections to destinations such as South Lake Union.

This summer, we invited the public to weigh in during a second phase of outreach.  Our online survey drew 2,500 responses, and another 90 people attended our open houses. The Link Connections SR-520 Sounding Board, made up of 21 community volunteers, also provided feedback during regular meetings.

This feedback will be used to develop a single proposal to be presented to the public in spring 2018. Any changes in service could be implemented as early as 2019. Visit our Link Connections SR-520 website for more information.

What we asked during outreach

Routes under review include Metro Routes 252, 255, 257, 268, 277, and 311, and ST Express Routes 540, 541, 542, and 545.

With no changes, bus service likely will get slower and less on time due to rapid growth and increased traffic. In addition, the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel will be closed to buses in 2019, moving routes such as the 255 to congested surfaces streets.

In our first round of outreach, customers told us they wanted buses to come more often, run later on weeknights and weekends, and connect to new destinations. In response, Metro and Sound Transit developed three service concepts that aim to keep riders moving through congestion and to improve transit in the SR-520 corridor.

They can generally be described as:

  • Option A: Maintain existing routes, with future congestion

(Learn more about Option A here)

  • Option B: Connects routes to Link, re-invests resources in added Frequency

(Learn more about Option B here)

  • Option C: Connects routes to Link, re-invests resources in New Connections.

(Learn more about Option C here)

What we heard from the public

Two key themes emerged from public feedback.

First, people are open to transferring to light rail for a more convenient and more reliable commute. They also want more frequent, reliable service and less overcrowding during peak periods. They also liked the idea of direct service to South Lake Union.

Secondly, people want a seamless transfer between buses and light rail. People had concerns about giving up their “one-seat ride” and wanted more information about what it will look like for customers to regularly transfer between the train and bus at the Montlake Triangle.

Some of their concerns:

  • Traffic from the Montlake Boulevard exit off of SR-520 and at the Montlake Triangle.
  • Ensuring Link light rail has room for additional riders at UW
  • Transit capacity during Husky games and other big events.
  • Impact of Montlake Bridge openings on bus service
  • Walking distance between the light rail platform and bus stops, especially for seniors and people with disabilities
  • Exposure to rain and elements.
  • Extra time needed to transfer to and from Link
  • Transfers between bus and Link for cash-paying customers.

 

UW Stadium

How this feedback will shape our next steps

Metro and Sound Transit are working with the Seattle Department of Transportation and University of Washington on plans for improvements to make the bus-rail transfer as convenient and seamless as possible.  This work is continuing and more information is expected in coming months. The public will have an opportunity next spring to review a refined proposal before it goes to the King County Council and Sound Transit Board of Directors for review.

How to stay involved

We appreciate the thousands of people who took time to share their feedback and look forward to your continued participation in the future.  Please subscribe to receive updates by email or text about the next opportunity to participate.

How we informed the public

  • Press release, ethnic media outreach
  • Social media
  • Metro Have a Say website, blog post and Sound Transit website
  • E-notifications: route subscribers, community partners, employers– (24,000+ notices)
  • Bus rack cards, posters at high-ridership stops
  • Street Teams/info tabling – (5,000 information cards were distributed)

How people provided feedback during Phase II

  • Peak Democracy online engagement tool – (nearly 2,500 responses)
  • Sounding Board – (22 members representing the communities affected by the restructure)
  • Emails and phone calls
  • At in-person outreach events, i.e. Open Houses and Street Teaming, etc. (Phase II – six events with an average attendance of 25 people)
  • Stakeholder briefings and meetings (employers, cities, stakeholder groups)

Who we heard from

Survey respondents included  communities served by the routes and those who use each of the 10 routes included in the service concepts.  We heard from a nearly equal number of people who ride the two highest ridership routes, Route 255 serving Kirkland, and Route 545, serving Redmond.

More than half said they were traveling to the northern end of downtown Seattle, about one-third said they were traveling to the southern end of downtown Seattle. Redmond, Kirkland, and the UW were the next most popular destination, followed by Bellevue, north Kirkland, Capitol Hill, and South Lake Union.

Demographics

  • About 73 percent identify as white or Caucasian
  • 12 percent identify as Asian or Pacific Islander
  • 1 percent identify as Black or African-American
  • 3 percent Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish, 1 percent American Indian or Alaska Native, 3 percent multiple ethnicities, and 1 percent “other”.
  • 13 percent reported a disability, with 5 percent reporting the disability affected their mobility

Seahawks park-and-ride shuttle service canceled for Oct. 1 night game

Metro’s “Seahawks Shuttle” from area park-and-rides will not operate for Sunday night’s game against the Indianapolis Colts.

The buses, which Metro operates on contract with the Seahawks, provides direct nonstop service from the Eastgate and South Kirkland park-and-rides to games at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks opted not to contract for the shuttle service for Sunday’s game.

Metro no longer operates shuttles from the Northgate Transit Center. 

Travel options to the game

Riding regularly scheduled transit service is still a great way to get to and from the Seahawks game on October 1. Visit Metro’s online regional Puget Sound Trip Planner desktop, mobile, Android or iOS apps to plan your trip, or just to see when your bus is scheduled.

Nearly all transit service that serves downtown Seattle travels to within walking distance of CenturyLink Field. In all cases, transit riders should be prepared for buses that are more crowded than usual and possible service delays due to traffic.  Regular fare is required on all transit service and can be paid with cash or ORCA card.

Metro will monitor service at key locations and will mitigate overcrowding if resources are available to do so, however transit riders are advised to use their routes’ regularly published schedules to plan transit trips, allow plenty of time and be prepared for crowds and delays.

Eastgate

While Sound Transit Express Route 554 provides regularly scheduled direct service from Eastgate to Fifth Avenue South at South Jackson Street near CenturyLink Field, fans who might have been traveling to Eastgate from other eastside locations may want to consider other options, such as ST Route 550 from the Bellevue Transit Center and Bellevue Way SE areas, or traveling to another part of the Eastside or nearby areas for alternate service.

Northgate

While Metro Route 41 provides frequent and efficient service to International District/Chinatown Station near CenturyLink Field, fans who were traveling to the Northgate Transit Center to connect with game day shuttles may want to consider other options, such as direct bus service from nearer to their starting points in many north Seattle and north King County neighborhoods, or north end bus service that connects with frequent, fast Link light rail at University of Washington Station.  Metro’s Sunday service that stops near the Link station includes routes 31, 32, 43, 44, 45, 48, 65, 67, 75, 271 and 372.

South Kirkland

While Metro Route 255 provides direct service to International District/Chinatown Station near CenturyLink Field from the Kirkland area, fans who may have been traveling to South Kirkland from other eastside or northeast areas to connect with direct shuttles may want to consider other options, such as Sound Transit routes 522 or 545, or itineraries that might include transfers with other buses or with Link light rail at UW Station.

Information on travel options to CenturyLink also is available at the Seahawks gameday transportation guide.

New bus stop is the first step to a two-way Columbia Street

The bus stop on Columbia Street and Second Avenue in downtown Seattle is a busy place for those commuting to West Seattle, Southwest Seattle, and Burien. Soon commuters who use the stop will have a more convenient location to catch the bus.

Columbia_2nd_Ave_bus_stop

The bus stop at Second Avenue and Columbia Street will move one block east to Third Avenue and Columbia, starting Sept. 23.

Work began in August to relocate the westbound bus stop one block up the hill to Third Avenue’s main transit thoroughfare. The new stop will open Sept 23 in coordination with Metro’s fall service change.

About 27,000 weekday riders will be affected, including those who use routes 21X, 37, 55, 56, 57, 113, 120, 125 and the RapidRide C Line.

Temporary wayfinding decals will be installed to point customers to the new location. A new street kiosk and off-board ORCA card reader will be installed for customers who ride the  C Line.

The new bus stop marks the beginning of major changes for Columbia Street. It will be transformed into a two-way transit corridor from First to Fourth Avenues to provide a vital connection for buses moving through downtown once the new State Route 99 tunnel opens and the Alaskan Way Viaduct is demolished. Buses traveling from the State Route 99 off-ramp in SODO will use the corridor to connect with  Third Avenue, downtown’s primary bus thoroughfare.

Construction to create a new eastbound transit lane from First to Third Avenues is expected to start in early 2018, and will take about four months.

Post_viaduct_transit_path

Initially after construction, Columbia Street will function as it does today; the project will simply reconstruct the pavement and prepare the curb line for the future configuration. When WSDOT opens the State Route tunnel in early 2019, the Columbia Street on-ramp will be permanently closed and Columbia Street will temporarily end at First Avenue; West Seattle buses will be routed via interim pathways.

After the Columbia Street on-ramp is demolished, the City will reconstruct Columbia Street between First Avenue and Alaskan Way as part of the Waterfront Seattle Main Corridor project, with Columbia Street reopening to traffic in late 2019.

King County is funding reconstruction of Columbia Street between First and Fourth Avenues. Columbia Street between First Avenue and Alaskan Way will be reconstructed as part of Waterfront Seattle’s Main Corridor project, which also includes dedicated transit lanes on Alaskan Way south of Columbia Street that will be operational once that project is completed in 2023.

More information is available at the Seattle Department of Transportation‘s website.

Riding Metro to the game? Plan for reroutes and changes to Husky football shuttle service

The UW Huskies play their first home game of the season this Saturday against the Montana Grizzlies. Fans and regular Metro riders should prepare for heavy traffic, reroutes and delays in and around the University District and Montlake Triangle immediately before and after the game, which is scheduled to start at 5 p.m.

UW Stadium

Park-and-ride shuttles to the game

Metro offers nonstop football shuttle service partnership with the UW Huskies from six park-and-ride locations, including Eastgate, Houghton, Kingsgate, Federal Way/South 320th Street, South Kirkland, and South Renton.

Metro will no longer operate dedicated Husky service from the Shoreline park-and-ride and Northgate Transit Center. The University of Washington is contracting for private shuttles to provide direct service from those locations. The Huskies gameday transportation website has information on private shuttle service for fans traveling from those locations.

Metro’s pre-game shuttles leave park-and-ride lots as they fill starting 2½ hours prior to kick-off time. The last buses leave from each park-and-ride approximately 40 minutes before kick-off, except for the Federal Way bus; this trip can take up to one hour and the service is scheduled accordingly.

A $7 round trip voucher is required for each person age 6 and older to board any Metro-operated Husky service. Vouchers can be purchased from the vendor located at each park-and-ride lot. No passes or transfers are accepted on the Husky park-and-ride direct service, including ORCA and UPASS. Game tickets are not accepted as fare on any service.

Post-game park-and-ride direct service buses depart from designated locations near UW Husky Stadium. The last bus to each park-and-ride leaves the Husky Stadium area 30 minutes after the game.

Fans also can ride any regularly-scheduled bus service and Link light rail from south-end locations or downtown Seattle to the University of Washington station outside Husky Stadium. Check for reroutes on some regularly-scheduled bus service in the Husky Stadium area.

Buses rerouted/U-District shuttle

With bus and car traffic on Montlake Boulevard and Northeast Pacific Street, riders of most regular Metro routes serving the UW Link light rail station (31, 32, 44, 45, 65, 67, 71, 73, 75, and 372) will be rerouted to 15th Avenue Northeast and Northeast Campus Parkway before and immediately after the game (see details online).  Riders headed to or from Husky Stadium can walk or ride a free Metro shuttle bus the rest of the way.

The U-District shuttle bus operates about every 7½ minutes from the regular posted bus stop southbound on University Avenue Northeast just north of Northeast Pacific Street. It will serve stops along Pacific Street in both directions.

For more information

Huskies 2017 home schedule

  • 5 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 9, vs. Montana
  • 6:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 16, vs. Fresno State
  • TBA, Saturday, Oct. 7, vs. California
  • TBA, Saturday, Oct. 28, vs. UCLA
  • TBA, Saturday, Nov. 4, vs. Oregon
  • TBA, Saturday, Nov. 18, vs. Utah
  • TBA, Saturday, Nov. 25, vs. Washington State

 

Metro employee receives lifesaving award

By Hannah Debenedetto / King County DOT intern

When an elderly man suffered a heart attack last April outside a Burien Starbucks cafe, Metro’s Marc Anderson knew what to do.

anderson_upthegrove

Metro’s Marc Anderson (L) stands with King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove after being honored for using CPR skills to save a man who suffered a heart attack in Burien. 

Anderson monitored the man’s vital signs as a Starbucks employee provided chest compressions. They continued performing cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) until paramedics from nearby King County Fire District 28 arrived.

In August, Metro Transit Risk Program Manager Marc Anderson was honored with the City of Burien’s 2017 Heroism Award for helping save the man’s life. The patient, Christopher Smith of Port Orchard, was able to leave the hospital a few weeks after the April 6 incident.

In a letter, Smith’s daughters said Anderson and others’ actions increased their father’s chances dramatically. “Were it not for these people knowing what to do and their immediate response, our dad would have died,” they wrote.

The King County Council also recently recognized Anderson for using emergency skills he learned through King County’s free emergency training program for employees. In 2016, Anderson was among nearly 1,000 county employees who enrolled in the courses.

At the Burien City Council’s award ceremony, Anderson stressed the importance of CPR training and encouraged more employees to take advantage. “This is one training that everyone should have,” Anderson said. “You never know when you will need it.”

As a result of the classes, Anderson was immediately able to assess Smith for tell-tale signs of distress, such as skin color and overall body condition.

“The first thing is to be willing to do something,” Anderson said. “The CPR/First Aid training gives a person the confidence to do something.”

“As his experience illustrates, CPR/AED training isn’t just for medics,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said. “The more people who hold a certification, whether they’re a County employee or not, the safer our county is.”

All King County employees are encouraged to attend free Basic First Aid/CPR/AED classes. You can find out more at KingCounty.gov. Residents of Seattle & King County can also take a free CPR class through the City of Seattle’s Medic II program.

Metro has options for hikers, music fans over Labor Day weekend

Metro has transportation options over Labor Day weekend for those heading to Bumbershoot or to hike in the outdoors.

For regular Metro customers, remember that regular bus service will operate on a Sunday/holiday schedule on Monday, Sept. 4 in observance of Labor Day.

Transit to the trails with Trailhead Direct

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A three-day weekend means plenty of Western Washingtonians will be out enjoying nature. Trailhead parking is likely to get a little crowded, which is why Trailhead Direct is a convenient option for those heading to the Issaquah Alps this weekend.

Trailhead Direct is a new seasonal service sponsored by Metro’s Community Connections Program and King County Parks that loops between the Issaquah Transit Center and three trailheads on Squak and Tiger Mountains. Transit vans leave the Issaquah Transit Center every 30 minutes between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.

This weekend,  the first 50 riders on Saturday, Sunday and Monday will receive a free gift pack that includes an ORCA card preloaded with $10 value. ORCA can be used to pay the Trailhead Direct fare.

Visit the Trailhead Direct website for details on other promotions offered through King County Parks .

Hikers can ride the transit vans to Margaret’s Way trailhead at Cougar-Squak Corridor Park, the Poo Poo Point trailhead on West Tiger Mountain, and the East Sunset Way Trailhead in Issaquah. The service continues its route with a stop at the Issaquah Highlands park-and-ride before returning to the Issaquah Transit Center to begin another loop.

For those who want to connect with the Trailhead Direct on public transit, ST Route 554 serves both the Issaquah Transit Center and the Issaquah Highlands park-and-ride on weekends. Metro route 271 serves the Issaquah Transit Center on weekends with the 208 serving the transit center on Saturdays.

Ride Metro to Bumbershoot

While Metro does not operate any extra or other special service for Bumbershoot at Seattle Center over the holiday weekend, there is plenty of regularly scheduled transit service that serves the festival.

Routes 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 13, 24, 32, 33 and the RapidRide D Line serve Seattle Center directly, while routes 5, 26, 28, 40, 62 and the RapidRide C, and E lines go to within a few blocks.

Holiday schedule on Labor Day

Metro buses will operate Sunday/holiday schedules for Labor Day, meaning some commuter bus routes will not be in service and other routes may operate on a reduced schedule.

Buses that do not usually operate on Sunday will not be in service on Labor Day. Customers should check schedules for route information, as well as planned  reroutes for events and construction.

Sunday fares will be in effect on all Metro service on Labor Day.

Complete transit information is available on Metro OnlineDetails about planned reroutes are on Metro’s Service Advisories page. Sign up for Metro Transit Alerts.

Riders also can visit Metro’s online Trip Planner or call Metro’s Customer Information Office on weekdays at 206-553-3000 to plan transit trips.

 

 

 

Executive Constantine: Go simple with a $2.75 flat fare

 

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Metro’s bus fares may get a lot simpler next year.

King County Executive Dow Constantine has announced a proposal to establish a single $2.75 fare for all adult Metro passengers, no matter the time of day or where they travel in King County.

Metro currently has one of the most complex fare structures in the nation, with one zone for the City of Seattle and another for all areas outside the city, as well as extra charges during the morning and evening commute.

Metro customers currently pay $2.50, $2.75 and $3.25 for regular adult fares, depending on zone boundaries and time of day.

One-third of riders in a recent survey said the current system is too complex and difficult to understand. In a proposal to the King County Council announced at a press conference, Constantine streamlined Metro fares to $2.75, and increased funding for discounted tickets.

About 65 percent of Metro customers will see no change or a fare reduction, according to boarding data.

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Metro spent six months hearing from customers, and received more than 11,000 responses to two public surveys, including one in which 80 percent expressed support for a flat fare.

You can hear Constantine, other elected officials, and Metro General Manager Rob Gannon discuss the proposal in the above video. Customers can check Metro’s fare review website for updates on this fare proposal, as well as Metro’s overall fare review process.

If the King County Council approves the proposed ordinance, it could take effect as soon as July 2018.

An estimated 35 percent of Metro boardings take place during off-peak hours, and those passengers would pay 25 cents more.

  • 21 percent of off-peak riders pay full adult fares without any subsidy or employer-sponsored pass.
  • 14 percent of off-peak riders use employer or organization-sponsored transit passes.

About 31 percent of Metro riders qualify for ORCA Lift, youth, senior and disabled fares. They would see no change.

The ordinance would include additional funding to help passengers who earn very low incomes not covered by ORCA Lift and passengers least able to pay during off-peak hours:

  • Increased funding for the Human Services Ticket Program, from $3.6 million to $4 million, to offset higher cost for social service agencies that distribute discount tickets. Forty-four percent of tickets sold through the program are for off-peak trips.
  • Working with ORCA partners to reduce fees for adult and youth ORCA cards and eliminate the $3 card fee for seniors and people with disabilities.
  • Continuing to work with schools, colleges and universities to enhance fare programs for students.

Help develop innovative transportation options in Shoreline, Lake Forest Park

Metro recently conducted a survey about transportation needs for people who live, work, or attend school in Shoreline and Lake Forest Park. We’re exploring some ideas and potential partnerships to better meet mobility needs in areas where traditional fixed-route bus service isn’t the best solution.  have_a_say_graphic2

Based on community input, Metro has developed two proposals. Now we want to get the community’s feedback on whether these proposals would help improve transportation in Shoreline and Lake Forest Park.

Have a Say! Learn more about the service options, take the survey and tell us what you think by Monday, Sept. 4. The options under consideration:

  • Community Ride – A reservation-based service that travels within a specific service area based on where people want to go.
  • Community Van – Metro vans provided for local group trips scheduled by a Community Transportation Coordinator to meet local needs.

Take the Metro Community Connections Survey today.