Metro seeks companies for ‘shared employer shuttle’ pilot

A Microsoft bus (Image: CHS)

If you can’t beat them, join them. King County Metro is looking to form a consortium of “two to five employers” to form a “shared employer shuttle” pilot.

“Metro is exploring these partnerships to find new ways to connect people to transit service and provide customers with mobility options,” Metro GM Rob Gannon said.

The one-year pilot seeks to band together a group of employers somewhere in the county for a Metro shuttle program to transport employees to their jobs and homes. “Only workers at those companies would be eligible to ride shared shuttles,” the Metro notice on the call for proposals reads. Continue reading

$2.75 — Metro will have simplified fare structure starting next summer

If the complicated pricing of transit zones and peak fares were keeping you from enjoying the services of King County Metro, boy is 2018 going to be a good year for you.

The King County Council Monday voted on a new flat pricing for Metro transit fares — $2.75.

“We’ve heard from the community, and we are responding by making riding Metro Transit in King County easier and more convenient,” said Rod Dembowski, chair of the county council’s transportation committee and prime sponsor of the legislation, said. “Riders, especially ones new to the system, should have the confidence to board a Metro bus and know the required fare. I hope the flat fare makes using Metro more understandable and encourages first-time users to ride Metro.”

“The new fare plan eliminates a payment system that fluctuated between time and distance and could cost an adult rider between the ages 19-64 anywhere from $2.50 to $3.25 a ride,” the county said in its announcement.

The new adult fare also will not affect the roughly Metro riders who pay ORCA Lift—Metro’s low income fare program— or youth, senior, and disabled fares. The agency says roughly 2/3 of its riders will pay the standard adult fare.

The new flat rate goes into effect starting July 2018.

Metro wants feedback on simplifying fares

If you have an ORCA card supplied by your employer, sorting out what you’re going to pay to ride a Metro bus is pretty simple. But, for the rest of us, King County’s fare system is, as the Seattle Transit Blog says, unfair and complex.

Metro is rolling out a survey to help shape a proposal planned to get in front of the county council by June. You can add your thoughts in the first planned survey here by April 7th. You can read what the experts at STB have to say about the plan and what is behind the effort to change the system here:

The background materials presented to the Advisory Committee convened for this project show that Metro is primarily focused on two goals: in the short term, potential elimination of zone and peak surcharges, and in the longer term, moving gingerly toward cashlessness and/or universal off-board payment. Please take the survey, and we’ll keep you updated with additional feedback opportunities as the project progresses. You may also email comments to Metro’s DeAnna Martin.

Given the tight turnaround time to get the proposal in front of the King County Council, a second survey on options for how to best shape a new fare structure will follow in April.

Metro is also holding public meetings on the fare review. The next is April 4th at King Street Station from 3:30 to 5:30 PM.

You can learn more at

Metro has $161 million deal to sell downtown bus center for convention center expansion

(Image: King County)

(Image: King County)

Screen-Shot-2015-03-02-at-10.49.16-AM-400x337King County has agreed on a price for the Washington State Convention Center to acquire the Convention Place Station bus facility, part of the $1.6 billion project to expand the center and a harbinger of the end of Metro’s use of the downtown transit tunnel.

The WSCC will pay $161 million for the land over the next 30 or so years — $275 million with interest.

“This proposed sale will help support Metro’s service and reliability improvements for the next three decades,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said in the announcement of the agreement. “Meanwhile, the expansion of the Convention Center will generate thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic growth for the region. This agreement is good for taxpayers, transit riders, and workers.” Continue reading

With officials touting ‘record transit’ numbers, Capitol Hill riders trading bus for light rail

Opposite Day On the Escalator, Capitol Hill Link Light Rail Station

More Capitol Hill commuters are traveling by public transportation — and they’re ditching buses in favor of light rail and the First Hill Streetcar in droves. The new numbers come from the Seattle Transit Blog’s analysis of the first release of systemwide ridership data following the opening of Capitol Hill Station, UW Station, and the U-Link restructure that optimized Metro’s lines around the opening of light rail service between downtown and the University of Washington via Broadway.

While Capitol Hill-area riders are less likely to be hopping on a bus, the data comparing Fall 2015 with Fall 2016 activity show Metro’s restructure apparently paid off by putting the county system to work serving areas away from the light rail circuit and feeding riders to the stations. “Despite an aggressive ULink restructure, Metro ridership stayed flat, declining by just 0.2%,” the STB wonks write. Continue reading

Get on the battery bus: King County leads way with $90M+ plan for new electric buses

(Image: King County)

(Image: King County)

You likely won’t see one regularly crossing Capitol Hill until 2020 but King County Metro is accelerating its efforts to reduce emissions and become a carbon neutral system with a $90 million-plus plan to add more than 100 battery-only electric buses to its fleet.

“This puts us in on the forefront of innovation and technology,” King County Council member Rod Dembowski said. “We were innovators in wheelchair lifts. We were innovators in hybrid electric. Transit agencies look to us for what they’re going to adopt.”

“We are signaling that is is proven technology,” the county District 1 rep tells CHS. Continue reading

Starting in 2017, the 8 won’t be (as?) late thanks to changes on Denny and Capitol Hill

route-8-improvements-diagramThe notoriously undependable but much-depended on Metro 8 might be a little more trustworthy thanks to changes planned on Denny Way including two stretches of bus-only lanes and improved bus stops on Capitol Hill segments of its route.

“Though reliability increased when Route 8 was divided into two separate routes in March 2016, late buses are still a problem, especially during rush hour and major events at the Seattle Center,” the agency said in its announcement of the planned streamlining.

On Capitol Hill, Metro announced that “on-street parking will be restricted on short sections of Denny Way, Olive Way, East John Street, and East Thomas Street” and two bus stops on E Olive Way and E John will be expanded “so buses don’t have to leave and re-enter heavy traffic, and to provide more space and amenities for waiting passengers.” Continue reading

Metro wants Night Owl feedback on plan to boost late-night service

304/365 - On a Rainy Night

King County Metro will field public comment through October on a proposal to expand its late night bus service:

The public is encouraged to review the proposal and offer comments via an online survey until Oct. 30. Public comments will help shape a final proposal, which could go before the County Council later this year. If approved, it will take effect in September 2017.

The agency says late night passengers represent “a small portion of Metro’s total ridership,” but that demand appears to be growing, with boarding increasing “by 20 percent in the last five years.”

Details of the proposal can be found at and the full announcement from Metro is below. Across the Hill, Route 11 would see boosted service along with possible tweaks to improve transfers on other routes. Continue reading

First look at how light rail, route revisions have changed Capitol Hill bus ridership

Over the weekend, CHS’s Re:Take history series took a look back at some of the lost bus routes of Capitol Hill. We don’t have to look back far in time to find the changes. Late last year, Metro planned out a wave of revisions and reroutes to optimize its service around the opening of light rail service to Capitol Hill Station and UW.

Now, the Seattle Transit Blog has provided the first look at how ridership on the altered bus lines has changed in the first months as ridership on light rail has soared.

STB grouped the impacted Capitol Hill routes into a set of winners…

  • Route 11: up 38% — The #11 is likely absorbing demand on Pine Street east of Broadway for former Route 10 riders unwilling to walk to Link. Continue reading

Metro willing to give you prizes to stop driving alone on Capitol Hill

"Riding the 43 at dusk" (Image: Patricia via Flickr)

“Riding the 43 at dusk” (Image: Patricia via Flickr)

unnamed (4)Metro is bringing a program to encourage people who live, work, and/or go to school on Capitol Hill to get out of cars — and keep track of it — for prizes, giveaways, and a strong sense of public transit righteousness. “By taking part in the program, residents can find more ways to give their car a break and explore healthier transportation options available in their neighborhood by taking the bus, walking, bicycling, carpooling and more,” Metro’s marketing exclaims.

You can sign up for Capitol Hill In Motion here.

For those who already don’t regularly use a car, Metro is also offering rewards for sharing your story — but, just saying, the prizes seem better for ditching a car.

The program is run by Alta Planning Colehour + Cohen for Metro and has been previously introduced in Juanita, South Park – White Center, Squire Park, West Seattle, and North Seattle/Shoreline. (Alta ran the first iterations of the program.) CHS is a community partner in the project to help spread the word.

The full announcement and information on signing up is below.

Continue reading