1:37 PM: In addition to Metro schedule changes starting Saturday, another big change announced, starting tomorrow, for buses and the Water Taxi. Here’s the announcement:
Effective with the start of service Saturday, March 21, riders will not be required to pay fare when riding King County Metro services, including buses, water taxi and Access paratransit, until further notice.
Riders also will be directed to board and exit at the rear doors of buses, reserving front-door access for customers using mobility devices or who require use of the boarding ramp.
“As this crisis evolves, we are constantly reviewing all of our practices and policies to provide the best service while keeping people safe,” said Executive Constantine. “Changing how riders board and exit our bus fleet and also suspending all fares is part of that effort. It is essential to keep this community on the move, and I thank all the operators, mechanics, support staff, and riders who are helping us get through this, together.”
These moves acknowledge the direction of public health to take steps necessary to limit the spread of COVID-19 and we continue to call on riders to do all they can by avoiding traveling when sick, covering coughs and sneezes.
Metro is relaying these planned changes to our partners at Sound Transit and the City of Seattle as they consider changes to ST Express bus service, Link light rail and Streetcar.
Metro is communicating this upcoming change with transit operators today and working to develop and install signage directing customers to board and exit at the rear doors unless and that fare payment is not required starting March 21.
We’re on the media call about the schedule change right now – any updates on that (the actual schedules are due out tomorrow), we’ll add.
2:38 PM: Some notes from the call- we asked why the 125 was deemed disposable – Metro managers said that it’s certainly not disposable but it’s a route that connects to no others and some of it is replicated by the 120 – so they are going to watch the 120 closely. They don’t expect to be making day to day changes but will assess weekly to see about re-evaluation. They are not planning any layoffs, though this will reduce revenue (farebox and sales tax total are down about $6 million a week). They say the schedule cuts will reduce the need for drivers and coaches by about 25 percent – that means they will be OK even if more are out sick. So far, no COVID-19 cases at Metro, they said.
ADDED 6:22 PM: Sound Transit is going fare-free too.