Ride with Pride: Metro celebrates and honors LGBTQ riders and employees

Editor’s Note: Plan to travel early and prepare for service delays and crowded transit service as an estimated 200,000 people will be downtown for the parade. Transit service will be rerouted Sunday, June 25, off of Fourth Avenue in Seattle from about 7 a.m. to the late evening during the Seattle Pride Parade.

This weekend, Metro is proud to participate in the Seattle Pride Parade. On behalf of our employees and riders who identify as LGBTQ, we march with you.

King County is reaffirming its steadfast commitment to fairness, justice and diversity. At a time when the rights of many in our country are under threat, our community is strong and supports our LGBTQ employees and customers.

When we hear stories of bus drivers and riders who help and care for each other, it represents the best of our greater community.

Every member of our community is entitled to travel without fear, free of harassment, intimidation or harm. Each customer is expected to ride in a way that is respectful of other customers and conforms with Metro’s Code of Conduct. Join us in our pledge to make our transit system safer, more inclusive, and we will be stronger together.

“Whether you arrived here last week or whether you’ve lived here for five generations, you belong here” – King County Executive Dow Constantine

Dow Constantinte and Joe McDermott raise the Pride flag at King County's administration building June 23, 2017.

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

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

Fremont Solstice Parade/Saturday

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

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

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

Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon/Sunday

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

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

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

For information about regular transit service, or to plan other trips, visit Metro Online or Metro’s online Trip Planner. When planning your trip, check Metro’s Service Advisories page to find out about any known revisions to your routes.

Metro is taking action to address cost, quality, and equity in Access paratransit

(Editor’s Note: Updated 7/18/17 to include a chart of the audit’s recommendations and how Metro is addressing them, as presented to the King County Council)

By Chris O’Claire, Metro Transit Assistant General Manager, and Priscilla Vargas, Managing Director of Paratransit & Rideshare Operations

Metro Transit is committed to continuing to improve the Access paratransit service we provide to qualifying riders who cannot ride fixed-route bus service. The King County Auditor’s Office has presented the findings of a performance audit of Access Transportation to the King County Council. Metro concurs with the recommendations of the audit and is moving forward to address each of them.

The audit results echo feedback Metro staff solicited and received from customers over the last year, even as Metro worked collaboratively with the auditor. Metro listened to public feedback from customers, caregivers, stakeholders, and a community advisory group. Together, this feedback identified areas of improvement that Metro used to inform current and future service improvements.

How Metro is responding to the Paratransit Audit

How Metro is responding to the Paratransit Audit. (Click to enlarge)

In recent months, Metro has already taken steps to reduce costs, better monitor and enforce cost controls and good service quality, and assure equitable access to Access Transportation. Specifically,

  • Metro is buying smaller paratransit vans this summer to improve service flexibility and performance.
  • More fare payment options will be available to customers this summer.
  • New online scheduling features will be implemented later this year so customers can make ride requests outside of normal business hours.
  • Under a new contract expected in 2018, Metro will conduct a monthly review of the mix of service being used to provide rides with the goal to optimize the most cost-effective service. In addition, the contractor will have financial incentives to reduce the cost of each trip and financial disincentives intended to avoid higher trip costs.
  • Also under the new contract, Metro has defined a contract management plan that specifies contract compliance, methods for verifying compliance, and a schedule for reviewing and enforcing performance standards.
  • (Revised) Metro has agreed to adjust drop-off times has already taken action under our current contract to schedule drop-off to no more than 30 minutes from the start of an appointment time by the end of 2017.
  • Preventing excessively long trips: The scheduling system has a series of parameters that ensure trips are scheduled consistent with comparable fixed route trips; however, actual on street conditions can result in longer than a
    nticipated trips. Longer than anticipated trip times area also experienced by users of the fixed route system when the on-street conditions result in the actual trip taking longer than the scheduled trip. Metro staff currently monitor the trip lengths which are also subject to review by the FTA. If a customer feels they have experienced an excessively long trip, we encourage them to report it to Metro customer service so we can monitor emerging patterns in customer experiences and take action if performance falls short of FTA requirements.
  • Access will explore translating its “Access Ride Guide” into King County’s 13 top tier languages. A shorter summary of services is currently translated into 10 languages and some materials are translated online as part of our commitment to address language barriers to our materials. Translation and interpreter services already used by Access also bridge the language challenge experienced by some Access customers as they apply for and use services. Access also works with Community Access Transportation program to better meet the unique needs and help overcome the language barriers of various communities.
  • Access also will work with the Executive’s Office and DOT Director’s Office to begin the Equity Impact Review. The process will include review of the E
  • quity Impact Analysis tool as well as tools currently used by Metro to conduct equity analysis for the fixed route system.

More details about these actions are provided in a survey available to customers now. Access customer prepares to board service provided by MetroMetro mailed this survey to active Access users and has been talking directly with customers in outreach events targeted to hear from populations with limited English proficiency or other barriers to completing a paper or online survey. Metro is invested in making sure we heard from our customers and that the actions we intend to take will respond to their concerns. The survey is available online in English and Spanish is open through the end of June.

Metro’s bus fleet is currently 100 percent accessible to riders with disabilities. For riders with disabilities who cannot ride the public bus system, Metro provides a paratransit service, fully complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Metro also goes above and beyond the ADA to better serve areas and times not served by bus service and at a lower fare – a key element that can drive up costs while we fulfill King County’s greater mission of providing mobility to those who are most dependent.

Metro is committed to continually looking at improvements to the system as we move forward, and we will work with the King County Auditor’s Office and the public to make progress on the recommendations. We look forward to working together to providing a service that is responsive to our customer’s needs.

UPDATE! WORK COMPLETE! UW buses (no longer) face reroutes on campus June 12-25


From Monday, June 12 until about Sunday, June 25, with one 2-day exception, Metro routes 32, 67, 75, 78, 277 and 372, and Sound Transit Express Route 540 will be rerouted off of Grant Lane and Stevens Way, due to construction on the University of Washington campus. We’ve made a handy map to help it all make sense.

During this time, these routes, while traveling in any direction, will travel instead via 15th Avenue Northeast, Northeast Pacific Street and Montlake Boulevard Northeast to and from their regular routes, and depending on the route, destination and direction of travel.

Map depicts bus stops temporarily closed on UW campus June 12-25 and alternate stop locations.

Click map to access PDF of planned bus stop closures on UW Campus June 12-25

The one exception to the approximate two-week UW campus road closure is the weekend of Saturday and Sunday, June 17 and 18, during which the UW campus and bus stops will be open and these reroutes will not be in effect.

At times when the campus roads are closed and these reroutes are in effect, transit riders should expect possible delays in service for the affected routes. Use the regularly published timetables, wait at designated stops along the reroute and expect possible delays.  Allow plenty of travel time for trips that use these routes.


Metro has new ideas for transportation in Sammamish

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

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

Tell us what you think by June 16

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

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

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

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

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

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

New locations

Sound Transit has leased several park-and-ride lots from property owners nearby and there are other existing lots with spaces available. More information on those locations is available via this map on Sound Transit’s website.

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

ST Park_and_Ride map

Park-and-ride options during East Link construction.

How to get more info

For commuters who want to try something new, Metro’s JustOneTrip.org has information on alternatives to driving such as carpooling, vanpooling, and biking and walking connections; or where they can fill out a form online to request assistance creating a custom trip plan.

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

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

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

Carpool Parking Permit program

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

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

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.

Visit our online open house through May 22 to learn about Northgate TOD effort

Thank you to those who attended our open house this past weekend for the Northgate Transit Oriented Development (TOD) project. We appreciate the nearly 300 community members and transit riders who took the time to learn about the project and share their thoughts with the team.

For those that were unable to attend, information presented at the meeting and the opportunity to provide feedback is available online through May 22 at NorthgateTOD.Participate.Online. Please visit and share your thoughts.

About the Northgate Transit Oriented  Development project

King County and the City of Seattle are working together to redevelop King County’s property near the Northgate Mall and future Northgate Link Light Rail Station. The project will replace an existing surface parking lot and transit center with a residential, commercial, and retail development. A portion of the redevelopment is planned to open as soon as 2021 when the new bus and light rail station opens. This project will also provide an opportunity for new public benefits such as open space, pedestrian and bicycle paths, and affordable housing in this area.

Para solicitar esta información en español, sírvase llamar al 206-263-9988 o envíe un mensaje de correo electrónico a deanna.martin@kingcounty.gov.

If you have questions, please contact DeAnna Martin, King County Community Relations Planner, deanna.martin@kingcounty.gov or visit the project website kingcounty.gov/northgate.

Do you use Access Transportation? Find out what Metro has planned and let us know how well we listened 

Invitation to provide feedback on changes planned in near, mid, and long-term

King County Metro is inviting more feedback through a survey of customers on how actions planned now, under a new contract, and in the future address key concerns identified by customers.

To better serve Access Transportation customers, Metro already is taking steps to improve service under existing contracts. Those steps include improved scheduling and routing for customers, an upcoming option later this year for making online reservations, and updated travel time estimates that account for current traffic congestion levels.

Access vanUnder a new contract, Metro will do a number of things, including increasing performance goals and incentives and disincentives for meeting those goals, have Metro customer service handle customer complaints, and provide more travel options for customers at the time of booking.

More work remains aside from the current and upcoming contracts, and Metro will continue to explore other changes requested by riders, including flexible pilot programs, vehicle tracking and arrival time estimates and options for paying fares.

Members of the public can learn more about these actions and provide feedback on them via a survey or attending an outreach event through June 5. A link to the survey and calendar of events is available on the project website.

On April 13, Metro released a Request for Proposal for Access Transportation service. Customer feedback, work with a national consultant to help identify service models that were appropriate for King County, outreach to multiple agencies across the Country to gain insight into best practices being applied at other transit locations, and preliminary findings from a King County audit, which is still in process, were taken into consideration in preparing the request for proposals. Information about the Request for Proposals is available at King County’s procurement website.

Metro and its contractors work to provide safe, reliable and consistent Access Transportation services for customers. We appreciate and value the feedback of customers and advocates as we work to improve existing service and strive to improve service going forward.

Need information about this process, the survey, or a calendar of events in a different format?

Leave us a message at 206-263-9768 with your phone number and a good time to reach you. We’ll call you back to discuss options.