Safety is always Metro’s #1 priority

By Grantley Martelly, Metro Transit Managing Director of Safety and Security

Metro Transit’s track record for safely operating service is among the best in the country – and an ongoing focus of everyone at the organization, from drivers to mechanics to managers.

That’s essential. We’re a transit agency that traveled about 44 million miles last year, carrying more than 121 million riders. We do that through congested streets and highways – and are mindful of more pedestrians each year.

Drivers must always be vigilant to operate our buses safely.

For all the millions of people served and millions of miles traveled, Metro experiences about two dozen pedestrian collisions each year, ranging from people running into the side of our moving buses to more serious collisions while turning in an intersection.

Metro cares about its customers, its drivers, pedestrians and the public it serves. That’s why Metro is focused on training operators to operate safely. We also are implementing a comprehensive safety review, funded by savings we achieved by reducing collisions in past years.

In February and April this year we recorded zero pedestrian collisions, and our year to date total is four collisions – much lower than 10 we had in the same time period in 2016.

graph of Metro pedestrian collisions 2006-2016, with totals peaking halfway through the time period and decreasing generally over time.

It’s good news, but not really a cause for celebration – each new day brings with it challenges and our 2,700 operators must always take great care to travel safely on our roads.

We check with customers regularly to make sure we are meeting their expectations, and strive to improve where we are not. We ask customers how safe they feel with how our drivers are driving, and 95% reported they are satisfied – 76% of which are very satisfied.

Based on 2015 reports to the National Transit Database, we rank sixth in the country among the 30 largest transit operators based on all collisions per miles traveled.

Each collision has the potential for serious injury and represents the highest and most costly risk as we operate transit service. When these rare collisions occur, we investigate, make corrections and sometimes are responsible for settlements to cover the injuries received by a pedestrian.

Working with King County Risk Management, Metro addresses claims and lawsuits deriving from incidents involving our transit system. The outcomes vary depending on many factors.

Our goal is zero collisions, zero incidents, and our work is focused on achieving that.

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, Sound Transit seek public input on future of SR 520 transit service

link-connections-sr-520-2For bus riders commuting between Eastside communities and downtown Seattle, potential new connections between Metro and Sound Transit bus service and Link light rail offer an appealing option for beating traffic congestion on Interstate 5.

This month, Metro and Sound Transit invited Eastside residents to weigh in on potential changes in transit service along the State Route 520 corridor.

Those changes could include stopping cross-lake buses at the University of Washington light rail station so riders can transfer onto trains headed to downtown, or providing Eastside communities with new transit connections to destinations such as South Lake Union.

Connecting SR 520 routes to light rail could connect riders with congestion-free service to Downtown Seattle.  Metro first considered this option when the University of Washington light rail station opened during the University Link Connections outreach process, but decided to hold a separate process with Eastside communities.

Routes potentially affected include the 252, 255, 257, 268, 277, 311, 540, 541, 542, 545, 555 and 556.

Feedback received during the public outreach process will be used to shape service concepts that will be presented for public review in May and June. Final proposals will be shared with the public later this fall for feedback, then pre520-Link-Connectionssented to the King County Council and Sound Transit Board for consideration.

At Metro’s Link Connections SR-520 website, you can:

Metro and Sound Transit are recruiting a sounding board of 15-20 community members to advise the agencies through the planning process. The sounding board will meet regularly through November 2017. People of diverse backgrounds who reflect the affected communities are encouraged to apply, via the website.

Nearly 230,000 peo0317Sr520Outreach114ple commute in and out of downtown Seattle from throughout the region, with many thousands more coming to shop and attend cultural events. Over the next 20 years, Seattle’s center city is projected to add 55,000 more jobs and 25,000 more households. That growth will occur as downtown traffic is affected by significant changes, including demotion of the Alaskan Way Viaduct; expansion of the Washington State Convention Center; and the long-planned conversion of the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel to a rail-only facility, which will send seven bus routes to the surface.

Changes outside downtown Seattle over the next five years include SR-520 construction and work along I-90 in preparation for the opening of East Link in 2023.

Additionally, an effort led by the Seattle Department of Transportation in partnership with King County Metro, Sound Transit and the Downtown Seattle Association called One Center City proposes potential strategies including bus route changes alongside street and traffic improvements and other measures in Downtown Seattle.

Help create the future RapidRide H Line – give feedback on Delridge improvements by Mar. 31

Have-a-Say-Spanish-500pwideIn 2020, Route 120 will become the RapidRide H Line. King County Metro is collaborating with the City of Seattle to improve riding transit, walking, and biking in the Delridge area. This month, we are sharing the latest on these improvements and seeking input on how best to balance the needs of everyone who uses the corridor, whether they’re in a bus, a car, walking, or riding a bike.

King County Metro will be bringing RapidRide amenities and improving service between the Seattle City limits and Burien.

Converting Route 120 into the RapidRide H Line will keep people moving by:

  • Keeping buses frequent and on-time
  • Adding more buses at night and on weekends
  • Upgrading RapidRide bus stops with lighting, real-time arrival info, and more
  • Improving sidewalks and paths for people walking and people riding bikes

What types of improvements is Seattle considering?

  • Option 1 would add bus-only lanes, both all day and at peak times along sections of Delridge Way SW. A widened sidewalk would accommodate people who bike and walk from 23rd Ave SW to SW Holden St. People who bike would be encouraged to use the existing neighborhood greenways, which run parallel to Delridge Way SW.
  • Option 2 would add bus-only lanes between the West Seattle Bridge and SW Alaska St. It would also add about 3 miles of southbound protected bike lane from SW Andover St to SW Kenyon St.

Learn more and comment by March 31

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