To support the health of passengers, drivers, and community members, King County Metro has instituted new passenger limits to promote social distancing. Metro is also developing additional mobility options for customers taking essential trips.

To better help each person maintain six feet of separation from others as guided by Public Health – Seattle & King County, the optimal number of passengers is 12 on a 40-foot bus and 18 on a 60-foot bus.

If a bus is below the optimal number, drivers will allow passengers to board at a stop even if the total number of new passengers means the coach’s limit will be exceeded. However, in such a case, passengers may make their own decision to wait for the next bus if they are able.

The optimal number of passengers in the ADA priority seating area is one, which will be counted as part of the total number. However, if the ADA seating area is empty, a customer needing that space will be allowed to board.

Also, if the bus stops to allow passengers to exit, the driver will allow all intending customers to board even if doing so exceeds the optimal number.

When a bus reaches or exceeds the optimal number, the driver will pass subsequent bus stops unless current passengers wish to exit. Drivers may show their bus is at capacity by switching the external destination sign from the “Essential Trips Only” reminder, to “Coach is Full, Sorry.”

Bus drivers will stay in frequent contact with Metro’s Transit Control Center, alerting them if they reach capacity, if they have to pass up a stop where passengers wish to board, and when the number of passengers drops back below capacity.

During reduced schedule operation, customers are urged to please reserve transit for first-responders, medical personnel, other essential workers, and people who rely on Metro for access to food, medicine, and similar essential needs. Space is at a premium to preserve room to safely conduct essential trips.

Customers taking essential trips on transit should:

Customers with disabilities whose essential travel needs are not being met during Reduced Schedule can also use Metro’s Access Paratransit service—even if the customer is not a certified user and would not normally be eligible. Contact the Access Transportation Call Center at 206-205-5000 for assistance.

Metro apologizes in advance to customers who could be passed by at-capacity buses and other transit vehicles. Within the constraints of reduced schedule operation, a limited workforce, and social distancing guidance, Metro has assembled a task force to develop and implement more options for essential travel.

Metro Vanpool may be an option for essential workers. The requirements for participating in the Metro Vanpool program have been loosened to allow for social distancing and to support essential workers whose regular transit service is temporarily unavailable or unfeasible. Metro Vanpool is a commuter service that uses Metro vans for several people – such as coworkers, friends, or neighbors – with a similar origin or destination.

Until further notice, the minimum number of group members in an existing vanpool has been reduced from five to two for mini-vans, and from eight to three for larger vans, and a limited supply of vans has been designated for new, temporary vanpools for 2 or more essential workers. Those interested in forming a new vanpool can email with “Emergency Vanpool Formation” in the subject line to get started or for more information. As of now, the process takes seven to ten days from application to approval, so interested essential workers are encouraged to begin the application process immediately.

Metro continues to monitor passenger counts to see how ridership is evolving and to ensure the transit system is best supporting essential travel.

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