Everyone remembers the headache last winter’s snow storm provided commuters—especially bus riders. From 1.5 hour waits at the bus stop to jam packed coaches, transit agencies around the region seemed to be caught off guard by the uninvited blizzard and the effect it had on bus service. But this year we’ve learned that King County Metro is helping riders get prepared before the snowfall as well as informing commuters on what to do during a storm. Here is Metro’s “know before you go” snow checklist:
Before snow season—make sure to sign-up or bookmark these NEW tools to get timely updates:
- Sign-up to get Metro Transit Alerts by e-mail: www.kingcounty.gov/metro/signup
Metro will send alerts about changes to service for bus routes you select.
- Visit the Metro Online Alerts Center: www.kingcounty.gov/metro/alerts
Learn about changes to bus service because of snow or other disruptions. The “Snow & Ice” section has a new map showing where buses have been rerouted because of snow, a list of all rerouted buses and links to descriptions of snow routes. The map also has seven areas that will be color-coded to show how bus routes are operating (see example of map to the right). When online, look at the color of areas where you want to travel:
Green = Buses are operating on regular routes in that area.
Yellow = Some buses are on their planned snow routes. By clicking on a yellow area you can find out which buses have been rerouted. Another click will get you detailed information about your selected route.
Red = All buses in that area are on planned snow routes and some routes may be cancelled. By clicking on a red area you can learn which routes are cancelled and find links to more information about snow routes.
Blue = Metro has declared a snow emergency and has activated its Emergency Service Network (see more info below) of about 70 core routes, 8 of which would still travel through the Bellevue Transit Center.
- Save Metro’s Customer Information Office number: (206) 553-3000
Metro’s customer information specialists will answer your questions about transit service. Interpreters are available. If you call during bad weather, wait times may be longer than usual, so consider using Metro Online and Metro Transit Alerts to get information faster—and free up phone lines for people without Web access.
When it snows:
- Before you travel, check weather reports and find out from Metro if your bus has been rerouted.
To find the snow route for your bus, follow these steps: Go to Metro Online; Find “Get a Timetable” and enter your bus route number; Click on the “Route Map” button; The map will show the regular route and a dashed line for the snow route.
- Expect delays.
Dress for the weather and prepare to wait longer at your bus stop. Travel times may be slower than normal.
- Know other bus routes or stops that would work for you if your regular service is delayed or rerouted.
You may find more bus service on cleared arterials, at major transit hubs, and at park-and-ride lots.
- Keep in mind that Metro has limited ability to provide “real-time” bus information during severe weather.
If buses are rerouted, Metro Online’s Tracker cannot provide precise information about bus locations or arrival and departure times. The online Trip Planner and timetables do not provide information about delayed or rerouted buses.
- If an extremely severe snowstorm occurs, Metro may activate its planned Emergency Service Network.
Metro’s regular network of more than 220 bus routes would be completely replaced with an emergency service network of about 70 routes designed to be reliable in the worst weather. Only 8 of these buses would come through the Bellevue Transit Center. Metro would maintain this core service as long as roads are passable for buses. The Emergency Service Network would provide bus service on major roads and connecting service in some neighborhoods. Some areas would have no bus service because of their location or terrain. If Metro must activate the Emergency Service Network, they will notify customers the day before it goes into effect through Metro Online and Metro Transit Alerts.