Metro and Redmond propose transit, pedestrian and bike enhancements at Old Redmond Road and 148th Ave NE

Metro is working with the City of Redmond to improve the eastbound right-turn at the Old Redmond Road and 148th Avenue Northeast intersection.

The goals of this improvement are to enhance the performance of bus Route 245 and improve safety for everyone who bikes or walks through this location.

The intersection’s current approach includes a “pork chop” pedestrian island which separates the eastbound through-movement and a short eastbound right-turn ‘slip’ lane. Continue reading

Commute achievement unlocked! 70 percent of commuters to downtown Seattle don’t drive

The front page of the Seattle Times launched the big news for commuters today: “As downtown jobs grow, workers turn to transit.”

Driving that headline was the announcement that less than 30 percent of nearly 250,000 commuters to downtown Seattle drive alone, and 70 percent take transit, rideshare, bike, walk and telework.Pie chart displaying the mode split for downtown Seattle commuters, totaling 70 percent who don't drive alone

It’s something riders have watched evolve over time. Record downtown Seattle job growth spurred public and private transportation investment during the past decade. Voter-approved ballot measures continued to pay to expand transit service. And the downward spiral of solo drivers continued. (35 percent in 2010; 34 percent in 2012 and 31 percent in 2014.)

Downtown Seattle added 45,000 jobs from 2010 to 2016, and an impressive 95 percent of the net increase in daily commute trips have been absorbed by transit, rideshare, biking and walking.

Public transit remains the top choice for downtown commuters (47%), with ridesharing, (9%), walking (6%), bicycling (3%), and teleworking (3%) rounding out the 70 percent of commuters not driving alone.

Did you know there are 31,000 more daily peak transit commuters, 9,000 additional non-motorized commuters, and 2,300 more vanpool/carpool riders since 2010? Solo drivers increased by only 2,255 during peak hours.Job growth in downtown Seattle has grown from 200,000 jobs in 2010 to 247,000 in 2016.

The results fulfill a 10-year goal to reduce the downtown Seattle peak commute drive-alone rate to 30 percent, accomplished by Commute Seattle at the direction of the Downtown Transportation Alliance (DTA)—a public-private partnership comprised of the Downtown Seattle Association, the City of Seattle (SDOT & OPCD), King County Metro and Sound Transit.

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.

Alaska Junction bus shelter changes ahead

As part of an effort to address customer comfort and access to Metro bus service as well as to address non-transit use including illegal and uncivil behavior at the Alaska Junction, Metro is moving forward with the retention of two of the four oversized “double” shelters at one of the six transit bays in the area of California Avenue Southwest and Southwest Alaska Street as soon as Dec. 20.

The decision to remove two of the shelters was finalized after several weeks of public feedback and further analysis of rider usage. With this change, the remaining two double shelters at Bay 2 will continue to provide a weather-protected area sufficient for the riders who use these facilities. Metro also provides two RapidRide shelters at Bay 1 for transit riders. The removed shelters will be reused at other bus stops that are in need of shelters, and the artwork will be relocated to bus shelters within the Junction.

Bay 2 is served by routes 50 (Alki to Othello Station) and 128 (Admiral to White Center and Southcenter). Route 50 generally operates every 20-30 minutes and Route 128 every 30 minutes. Metro staff were sent to the location to observe how riders were using the stops at different times and days. Staff observed between zero and five customers waiting for buses at any one time under normal conditions, based on recent observations during peak and off-peak hours.

Metro solicited comments between October 28 and November 21 and received feedback from both riders and non-riders, some opposed and some supporting the change. The majority of comments opposed to the removal were based on the misconception that Metro intended to remove all shelters at this location.

The change is expected to reduce non-transportation use of Metro facilities, and to better match transit facility supply and demand.

Make Metro a safe place for everyone

By Rob Gannon, Metro Transit General Manager

In this moment of change and transition, County Executive Constantine has reaffirmed our values and principles.  King County is a place that values women, people of color, people with disabilities, people with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities, immigrants and refugees, and people of every religion, or of no religion.

In the delivery of our service to the public, Metro Transit does not tolerate harassment of any kind.  The vehicles we operate will remain safe places for our passengers.  Acts of harassment on our buses or at our shelters violate Metro Transit’s commitment to inclusion for all in our community and our rider Code of Conduct.  Should they occur, we ask people to report them to our employees or call 911 if law enforcement is needed immediately.

Metro Transit GM Rob Gannon portrait photo

Rob Gannon, Metro Transit General Manager

We will take enforcement actions against violators of this code.  And we are reminding operators of our procedures for addressing violations of the code of conduct aboard their coaches.

King County is a growing community rich in diversity and is one of the world’s great metropolitan areas.  Metro demonstrates our contribution by providing the best service possible, safely and with respect given to all our customers.  We ask all our riders to join in that commitment.

Ride safe, and help us keep our system safe for everyone.

Survey: Help Metro learn about transit gaps since Route 331 service was reduced

1016auroravillagetc001-2In September 2014, Metro reduced evening and night service on Route 331, which connects Kenmore, Lake Forest Park, Shoreline, and the Shoreline Community College campus. Now our Alternative Services Demonstration Program is working with the communities of Lake Forest Park and Shoreline and with Shoreline Community College to identify transit service gaps that might have been created by this reduction.

Do you live, work, or go to school in Shoreline or Lake Forest Park? Tell us about how you use or would like to use public transportation to get around.

Leading Metro into a new era

Metro Transit GM Rob Gannon portrait photoBy Rob Gannon, Metro Transit General Manager

I was deeply honored last week to be named the Metro Transit general manager by King County Executive Dow Constantine and Department of Transportation Director Harold Taniguchi, and look forward to confirmation by the King County Council.

This is an exciting time to lead Metro. We’re poised to begin implementing Metro Connects, our long-range plan for providing more and better transit service over the next 25 years. Not only does Metro Connects call for a 70 percent expansion of our transit system, it also envisions frequent service all day across the county, numerous safety and customer service enhancements, corridor investments to keep buses moving, and many more innovations and improvements.

We collaborated with community members, cities, and other transit agencies as we crafted this bold plan. As we move forward, strong relationships with communities and agencies will be critical to making our shared vision a reality.

Those partnerships will be one of my top priorities, along with customer and employee safety and strengthening Metro as a great place to work—the best way to ensure outstanding customer service.

While new to the general manager position, I’ve been at Metro for several years, serving as the interim general manager since March and as a deputy general manager from 2013-2016. In my time here I have interacted with employees throughout our agency—bus drivers and mechanics, customer service and facilities maintenance employees, planners and managers. They all share a devotion to providing the best possible service to the public, and I’m thrilled to be leading this great team.

I’ll keep you informed as we strive to deliver outstanding service every day while working toward our vision of a world-class transit system for King County.

 

Metro pausing removal of two Alaska Junction bus shelters

The King County Metro transit facility at Alaska Junction is incredibly important to our customers and to the functioning of the transit network in West Seattle.

Due to the attention possible changes have received over the weekend, Metro is willing to push “pause” on the shelter removal and actively solicit feedback before finalizing the shelter removal plan.

New information will be posted at the shelters within the next couple days and will provide the appropriate contact information.  We also read the West Seattle Blog and other forums and will compile comments along with all other feedback we receive.

But Metro would also like to take a moment to clarify the proposal to reduce the number of shelters on SW Alaska Street at the Junction.  The Alaska Junction transit facility consists of six individual bus stops or “Bays”.  Bays 1 through 4 are located on SW Alaska between California and 44th avenues Southwest.  Bay 2, on the south side of Alaska between 44th and the alley, is the subject of this discussion.  Bay 2 has about 200 Metro boardings per average weekday.  For comparison, Bay 1, between California and the alley, has about 1,300 boardings, while Bays 3 and 4 on the north side of Alaska each see about 400 boardings.  Bays 5 and 6 are on 44th north of Alaska, on the east side of the street and they remain unchanged by this proposal.

Bus shelter in West Seattle, with red box identifying two shelters to be removed.West Seattle businesses, residents, and others have been seeking to identify improvements to reduce illegal and uncivil behavior in the area.  The shelters closest to the City of Seattle provided porta-potty (visible in foreground in the photo) have been identified as facilitating this type of behavior and creating an unwelcoming if not unsafe environment for transit riders and others.

Two factors – ridership that does not justify the number of shelters, and numerous complaints of illegal and uncivil behavior – combined to prompt Metro to plan for removal of the two shelters closest to the Porta Potty, (highlighted in red in the photo).  The remaining two shelters would continue to provide very generous waiting space for Metro riders, as would the two Rapid Ride shelters in Bay 1 next to Key Bank.  Bay 4 (immediately across Alaska Street) currently has two large shelters and twice as many Metro boardings as Bay 2, and we have observed the Bay 4 shelters provide adequate space for riders.

Metro regularly evaluates issues with Metro bus shelters and makes decisions on the installation and removal of bus shelters, as ridership and circumstances change at bus stops. The plan to remove these two Metro shelters arose out of concerns raised by the West Seattle Junction Association (WSJA), and subsequent meetings between WSJA, Metro Transit Police, the Seattle Police Department, and others regarding security issues in the junction, including loitering, public inebriation, fights, illegal dumping, public urination, and harassment of Metro bus riders and others.  The removal of these shelters is one of several efforts in the Junction area that is attempting to address quality of life issues.

Removal of the two shelters at Bay 2 is one of several actions that WSJA and Metro are taking to improve security and maintenance at the Junction. Other efforts include:

  • Metro Transit Police have started a “Problem Solving Project” in partnership with the Seattle Police Department SW Precinct to deal with code of conduct and quality of life issues to improve safety and security for business and citizens using the junction
  • Possible additional lighting in the adjacent parking lots by WSJA
  • Tree and bush trimming by WSJA in the adjacent parking lots to improve visibility into the lots
  • Metro will increase custodial maintenance at the Junction bus stops from three times per week to five times per week.

Metro is looking forward to hearing further public comment and adjusting the proposal in ways that can both serve riders and improve public safety.

Univision honors Metro’s Penny Lara during Latinx Heritage Month

The people of King County are fortunate to have Penny Lara. A longtime advocate for equity, Lara is a transportation planner at King County Metro focused on improving access to transportation for communities with special needs.

Lara came from the Department of Public Health, Seattle-King County, where she played a key role in implementing ORCA LIFT –the reduced fare card for low-income riders —  and building upon her experience leading efforts to enroll King County’s Latinx community in health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Lara’s energy, enthusiasm and efficacy has not gone unnoticed. This month, Univision recognized her as one of three community members who have done outstanding work to engage the Latinx community. She was featured in a video that aired during Latinx Heritage Month.

“Knowing that I’ve been an instrument in helping build healthy and connected communities for families such as my own is an honor,” Lara said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to work in many capacities for my community, both locally and across the border, and hope to continue to work with the amazing teams at King County to bring more resources to all of our families.”

Lara has 20-years of knowledge and experience working with diverse and immigrant populations on health, social justice and equity. Among her accomplishments:

  • She was first to implement the “Promotoras” (Community Health Worker) model for health education outreach in King County;
  • She was creator of the Washington chapter of One Billion Rising – a global movement to raise awareness about domestic violence.
  • Founding member and implementer of the innovative health program Ventanilla de Salud (Health Window) – a top performing program at Mexican Consulates in the U.S.
  • Served as a strategic advisor and cross-cultural liaison for Vicente Fox,  former president of Mexico, on the Advisory Council to the Institute of Mexicans Abroad.

Recognizing the “cultural, educational and political influences of Latinxs in the Northwest,” King County Executive Dow Constantine proclaimed Latinx Heritage Month in King County from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. King County is home to nearly 200,000 residents of Latinx ancestry.

As Penny Lara continues her work to build a more inclusive community, Metro is proud to have her on board.

Get ready: Fall storms = time to sign up for transportation alerts

The weather forecast doesn’t look pretty. Heavy wind and rain is coming our way starting Oct. 13, and now is the time to sign up for King County’s travel alerts, whether you ride Metro, the Water Taxi, or drive on King County roads, or want to receive regional emergency updates.

Looking out a window through raindrops on a Metro bus.Where do I sign up?

Regional updates will be posted on the King County Emergency blog.

The combination of wind and rainfall increases the possibility of clogged storm drains and urban flooding. Sudden bursts of rainfall can temporarily make roads impassable. King County’s My Commute page is a key resource for monitoring the status of closed county roads. Stay up to date with river flooding information by visiting kingcounty.gov/flood.

Road Services crews are on rotation and available to respond to reports of blocked roadways. For your safety, never drive through standing water and respect signs marking closed roads. Call the 24/7 Roads Helpline to report road maintenance and traffic safety issues in unincorporated King County, such as downed stop signs, signals that are out or trees over the roadway. The 24/7 Helpline: 206-477-8100 or 1-800-527-6237 (1-800-KC-ROADS).

Metro Transit supervisors are staffing the agency’s control center and actively monitoring the forecast and changing weather conditions. They are prepared to adjust transit service if routes become blocked.

Water Taxi captains are monitoring wind conditions at three shoreside facilities as well as on the water, and communicate with Washington State Ferries at the Vashon Island ferry terminal. If wave and wind conditions are determined to not be safe for travel, crews will temporarily halt water taxi service until winds subside. Vessels not in service will utilize additional mooring lines.

Airport personnel will be monitoring airfield conditions during the period of high winds and heavy rain.