Metro adding partitions and, on some routes, free mask dispensers as bus service ramps back up

After months of “ESSENTIAL TRIPS ONLY” service, King County Metro is getting ready for its shift back to more normal operation. With the planned return of fares next month. buses will also be equipped with new partitions to allow front-door boarding and protect drivers and riders plus new dispensers with free masks on the busiest routes.

Metro is now installing safety partitions to allow front-door boarding in preparation for restoring fares, targeted for Oct. 1, although a firm date has yet to be announced. The plexiglass safety partitions will swing into position when a driver opens the front door, minimizing interaction between boarding passengers and the driver. The partition also can be opened manually by the driver to allow them to leave their seat to assist passengers, including those who use mobility devices.

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King County Council vote another stop on making RapidRide G a 2022 reality

The King County Council’s Mobility and Environment Committee is expected to vote Tuesday afternoon on final approval for the alignment of RapidRide G on Madison connecting downtown to Madison Valley through First Hill and Capitol Hill.

The vote will make official the county’s RapidRide program for the planned “bus rapid transit” project expected to begin construction in mid to late 2020 and create a new east-west Metro route along Madison between 1st Ave and Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

CHS reported on the project this summer as it moved into the “90%” design phase and decisions were being finalized on features and changes along the $120 million, 2.3 mile, 10-station route including what planners hope are improved crossings for pedestrians and the major decision to focus on a new diesel-hybrid bus fleet for the line.

Pending approval of federal funding that will cover about half of the costs, the start of construction is slated to start next year with service starting late in 2022.

Perfect 10 — Metro touts another service update with increase in trips

King County Metro says it plans to increase service with more trips on its routes for the tenth update in a row since 2015.

The agency rolled out its Fall 2019 service changes this week. The new schedules begin Saturday, September 21st.

Metro says it is increasing service, adding 200 new trips each weekday, 150 trips on Saturdays, and 200 trips on Sundays totaling 1,350 trips per week, thanks to “investments and Seattle Transportation Benefit District funds from City of Seattle.” Continue reading

‘It’s good to remind folks how the system works’ — On first day of school, students get lesson in Sound Transit fare enforcement

The start of the year for Seattle Public School students who rode Sound Transit light rail to school Wednesday included an important lesson. The fare enforcement process deployed by the transit agency is draconian.

And you can’t trust adults.

A photo posted by SPS educator Jesse Hagopian showing an enforcement employee reportedly requesting and photographing student IDs on light rail Wednesday morning sparked backlash about the practices and policies deployed by the agents. Continue reading

Last chance this year to hike from Broadway to the mountains

Sunday is the final day of service for the inaugural year of Trailhead Direct service from Broadway to hiking trails up Mt. Si and Mt. Teneriffe.

King County Metro is running a survey to get feedback on the service to help plan the 2019 season.

CHS reported here on the addition of service from Capitol Hill Station under the program created to help ease parking problems at the popular trailheads as the region’s population continues to boom.

Trailhead Direct includes 19 and 27-seat vans with capacity for two bicycles for each trip. Passengers pay a $2.75 flat fare under the public-private partnership between King County and the Seattle Department of Transportation. The 2018 season was also boosted with sponsor support by REI and Clif Bar.

Did you put the new service to use? Where’d you go?

Changes on Denny Way and Capitol Hill hoped to make the 8 less late

Delayed work — including new parking restrictions and expanded bus stops on Capitol Hill — to make the heavily-used but notoriously behind schedule Metro Route 8 line more dependable is expected to be wrapped up this week.

SDOT announced the construction update Monday on the most significant piece of the street puzzle — lane changes on Denny Way: Continue reading

Metro #metoo: County calls on riders to report sexual misconduct

Metro has started a new campaign it hopes will help reduce incidents of lewd comments on its buses and increase reporting of sexual misconduct.

The “Report it to Stop It” campaign focuses on encouraging riders to report the problem: Metro is calling on riders to report misconduct by:

  • Telling their Metro bus driver at the time of the incident,
  • Calling the King County Sheriff’s Office/Metro Transit Police 206-296-3311,
  • Calling 911.

The push to encourage reporting comes amid a huge increase in reported incidents, according to officials. “Since the #MeToo movement gained widespread attention in October 2017, calls to KCSARC’s Resource Line have increased by more than 50% compared to the previous year,” Metro says.
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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 kingcounty.gov.