Editor's Note: The following is a press release issued by King County this week.
SEATTLE – In just a few weeks, transit riders across King County face major changes as Metro Transit focuses bus service to serve more people, begins a pay-on-entry system and launches two new RapidRide lines serving downtown Seattle.
Thousands of riders will see changes to their routes starting Sept. 29. Dozens of routes will have different bus stops, travel on different streets or have changed schedules. Some low-ridership routes will be eliminated and buses moved to serve more people.
“It’s homework time for riders, and we are putting tools online and on the street to help,” said Kevin Desmond, Metro Transit general manager. “We need riders to start preparing now so they understand how they’ll be affected by our planned route changes.
“These changes make the best use of limited tax dollars, increase connections between routes and reduce route duplication – and by doing so we meet the needs of more people.”
Starting today, riders can go online and see a summary of the changes Metro has planned. Printed rider alert brochures will be distributed in coming weeks, and Metro’s online trip planner will be updated mid-September so riders can map out which routes work best for them. Also, teams of Metro personnel will be on the streets at the end of September and first week of October to answer rider questions.
Sept. 29, Metro also is transitioning to a pay-on-entry system on all buses. Eliminating the downtown Ride Free Area, which has been in place nearly 40 years, will raise needed revenue and preserve transit service. Riders should prepare for initial delays as lines form to pay fares when boarding.
“We expect the transition will take some getting used to, and we ask for everyone’s patience – especially the first week of October as riders and drivers adjust,” Desmond said. “It won’t be easy, but we can get to our new normal faster if riders know about how coming changes will affect them.”
Riders can speed up boarding times and be ready for the pay-on-entry system by getting an ORCA card. For those who relied most on the Ride Free Area to reach services in downtown Seattle, a free circulator shuttle will be implemented in association with the city of Seattle to serve those who need to access downtown human services and health resources.
Metro also is launching two new RapidRide lines Sept. 29, with frequent service and special features. RapidRide C Line will travel between downtown Seattle and West Seattle, and RapidRide D Line will travel between downtown Seattle and Ballard via Uptown.
“RapidRide service is so frequent, you don’t need a timetable,” Desmond said.
After just two years, the Metro RapidRide A Line carries an estimated 8,300 daily riders between Federal Way and Tukwila, a roughly 50 percent increase that meets the agency’s five-year ridership goal, Desmond said. RapidRide B Line launched last year, and carries an estimated 5,800 daily riders between Bellevue and Redmond.
“Together, the service changes, pay-on-entry system, and new RapidRide lines will make Metro’s transit service work better and serve more riders,” Desmond said.
Tools for riders
Metro Transit has many tools online, with more planned in coming weeks.
- Route changes and Metro’s online trip planner are online at metro.kingcounty.gov
- Pay-on-Entry/Ride free area elimination information:
- RapidRide information page: metro.kingcounty.gov/travel-options/bus/RapidRide
- ORCA card information page: www.orcacard.com
Information about Metro Transit services is online at www.metro.kingcounty.gov.