Free Metro rides in snowstorms?

(Photo from February snow, courtesy Jeff B)

Should Metro be free when we have major snow, as was the case back in February? At least one King County Councilmember thinks so. Announced today:

Legislation is being filed this morning by King County Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles that would allow for free Metro transit during snow emergencies. The measure comes in response to a massive storm that devastated roads and highways across the region earlier this year.

“This past winter our region was hammered with one of the worst snow storms the region has seen,” said Kohl-Welles. “Cars skidded out of control or got stuck, pedestrians struggled to gain footing and slipped on sidewalks, and too many of our most vulnerable citizens were left stranded. Free Metro fares will keep people safe and is the right thing to do.”

Here’s the proposed legislation (PDF); we’re checking with our area’s King County Councilmember Joe McDermott to see what he thinks of the proposal.

28 Replies to "Free Metro rides in snowstorms?"

  • Graciano April 22, 2019 (11:52 am)

    Free rides to nowhere! If you take the bus in the snow, bring your hiking gear.

  • Blbl April 22, 2019 (12:04 pm)

    What?  How is giving people a free ride going to keep the most vulnerable from being stranded?  In times of a major snowstorm, the City should be encouraging people to stay home, not making it easier for them to get out on the road.  The busses were the ones stranded, so more people on the bus just means more people stranded.  Free rides are certainly not going to convince people driving in the snow to suddenly stand outside instead and hope a bus comes. This is stupid. 

  • ARPigeonPoint April 22, 2019 (12:32 pm)

    We should send her all of the pics of stuck buses.  She also seems to think people don’t have to walk/hike/slide/skid to and from the bus stops.

  • Q April 22, 2019 (12:35 pm)

    Transit should be free and fully subsidized by private motor vehicle users, regardless of the weather.

    • 120rider April 23, 2019 (6:28 am)


  • Terri April 22, 2019 (12:53 pm)

    If you read the actual legislation, waiving the fares makes sense in the context of the new snow plan whereby many of the bus routes are cancelled or curtailed. It’s not so much an incentive for people to ride, but a little compensation for the shared misery encountered in these kinds of emergencies. 

    • Blbl April 22, 2019 (3:22 pm)

       I read the legislation.  It is intended to increase access to transit, not give people a little compensation for their share of misery. “Waiving transit fares during severe snowstorms could increase the accessibility of transit service for those experiencing homelessness andother difficulties, and could increase safety by encouraging people to use transit as transportation to reach shelter and avoid driving”.  It is an attempt to encourage homeless people to use the busses during a snowstorm.  If the City cared about safety, they would not be encouraging people to find a bus in the middle of a snowstorm. 

  • zark00 April 22, 2019 (1:08 pm)

    What a waste of time – I think they have more important things to focus on.

  • West Seattle Hipster April 22, 2019 (1:10 pm)

    I rode multiple buses during the last snow storm and made a point of telling each driver I appreciated them for going to work and doing a great job in less than ideal conditions.   I normally don’t like people not paying fares on buses but this idea I support.

  • Jort April 22, 2019 (1:13 pm)

    Sounds great, but I wouldn’t stop at snowstorms. Public transportation should be fare-free for all users, all the time. The missing revenue can be generated from automobile enthusiasts.

    • Jethro Marx April 22, 2019 (2:04 pm)

      You’re right, transit should be free, because it is beneficial to everyone when anyone rides public transit, and high ridership ensures a well-maintained system. Do you not understand that creating an us vs. them, bus/bike/foot vs. car dynamic is purely antagonistic and helps no one? That is a philosophical problem; the mathematical problem is that fares are a joke, revenue-wise. Everyone is already subsidizing transit, car registrants a bit more than others. The only real reason we collect fares is to keep poor people away.

      • Jon Wright April 22, 2019 (3:40 pm)

        The frustrating thing about  complaints of transit subsidies is that they never address the fact that every form of transportation is subsidized, cars most of all!

      • Jort April 22, 2019 (4:15 pm)

        Hi Jethro, I think you’re mistaken and perhaps are seeking out intentions of conflict where none exist. In my fare-free transit plan, I would rely on taxation of automobile drivers to make up the lost revenue from missing fares. I’m not sure how you are interpret this as being an “us vs. them” issue. Indeed, I would very much rely on the continued existence of automobile drivers to financially sustain a robust public transportation system. I think it would be a fair compromise for everybody! Automobile drivers would continue to be allowed to drive their private vehicles on our public lands, and public transportation becomes easier for all citizens to ride! It’s really a win-win situation. Thank you for your support!

        • Canton April 23, 2019 (7:34 am)

          By all means, let’s make everything free. Free rent, free clothes, free transportation, free food, free WiFi, free college, free library books, free legal fines. If everything is free, no need to get up and go to work. Win- win.

          • Jort April 23, 2019 (11:20 am)

            Thank you for your support, Canton! I appreciate it!

          • Canton April 24, 2019 (10:03 pm)

            Any idea, where to get free fish and chips?, preferably cod. I’d like to catch up on some reading, I’ve had these library books for around 2 years now.

          • Jethro Marx April 23, 2019 (2:31 pm)

            I have a problem with “free legal fines” as they’re oxymoronic. Not a great capstone for your list. But yeah, college should be free, if by free you mean, paid for by taxes on everyone, like roads, schools, streetlights, and other luxuries of the first world.

          • Canton April 24, 2019 (8:37 pm)

            @ Jethro. Guess you didn’t hear about the county’s new idea to use taxes to pay for people’s bail.

  • Rick April 22, 2019 (1:27 pm)

    Every thing for free! Until you run out of people actually paying for free! It’s worked around the world throughout history, you know. Let’s be like them.

  • newnative April 22, 2019 (2:13 pm)

    The “most vulnerable” should not have to pay prohibitive bus fares in any circumstance but I’m with a lot of the comments, the buses were the ones stranding and being stranded. How about improving ACCESS, that new Ride2 and overall access to the bus stops? Everything just shut down, sidewalks were impassable and buses were not even running in my neighborhood. This is a weird focus. 

  • Peter April 22, 2019 (2:44 pm)

    Transit should be free all the time, not just in bad weather.    

  • Swede. April 22, 2019 (3:39 pm)

    Fail!We work to much as it already is, with much to little vacation to the rest of the developed world, so if the weather isn’t exactly ideal to travel in – stay home! Especially in this area where people are horrid drivers and have a melt dow. If they even just see two snow flakes. 

  • KM April 22, 2019 (3:54 pm)

    Several cars were also stranded during the snow storm, that was not just a bus issue. Same as other snowstorms of the past as well–vehicles of all types get stuck. 

  • KT April 22, 2019 (8:40 pm)

    Interesting idea.  Of course when 75% of the routes are not running it doesn’t help anything!

  • 1994 April 22, 2019 (10:14 pm)

    Maybe the idea is to have a small army of people available to push the bus if it gets stuck?

  • bolo April 22, 2019 (10:18 pm)

    Maybe use the money instead to buy more snowplows to help keep the buses from getting stuck in the first place?

  • Jennifer April 23, 2019 (8:57 am)

    What good is free if the busses you need to get to work all were canceled so you couldn’t get there anyway?

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