With snowfall and freezing temperatures across the region, King County Executive Dow Constantine directed Metro to shift bus service to the Emergency Snow Network starting Monday, Dec. 27, reducing service to about 60 core routes that the City of Seattle and other jurisdictions prioritized for snow and ice removal.

King County Metro shifted bus service to snow routes Sunday, Dec. 26, due to widespread snow accumulations, challenging road conditions and available regional workforce levels. The National Weather Service predicts ongoing freezing temperatures through the week and the possibility of additional snow accumulation.

The Emergency Snow Network (ESN) will be effective at 4 a.m. Monday, Dec. 27, until further notice. Metro will reassess daily whether snow clearing efforts have adequately improved road conditions and determine if there is sufficient staffing and buses to restore service and operate the broader all-day transit network.

Customers will be able to board service on about 60 core bus routes and shuttles primarily serving key arterials and transit centers. The network prioritizes service based on equity and high-ridership demand and to serve areas that avoid steep hills. The routes were developed in coordination and collaboration with jurisdictions and take advantage of designated snow plow plans, including the City of Seattle.

Metro will be monitoring performance of this network and making adjustments as needed to improve operations. Customers in outlying areas and neighborhoods should prepare for reduced or temporarily unavailable bus service on Monday and for several days due to inclement weather, difficult travel conditions and topography.

“Shifting to the emergency snow network positions Metro to equitably and safely serve customers on a core system for those who need transit most,” said King County Metro General Manager Terry White. “Road conditions continue to be a challenge across the system, and our staff are working around the clock to retrieve and chain buses. With several days of freezing temperatures in the forecast, transit customers should prepare for reduced service levels until road conditions improve.”

Emergency Snow Network – Bus routes operating (starting Monday, Dec. 27 and until further notice)

RapidRide A, B, C, D, E and F lines, routes 3, 4*, 5, 7, 10, 21, 24, 31, 32, 36, 40, 44, 45, 48, 60, 62, 65, 67, 70, 75, 101, 102, 105, 106, 120, 124, 128, 131, 132, 148, 150, 160, 161, 165, 168, 181, 184, 230, 231, 239, 245, 250, 255, 271*, 331, 345, 348, 372, Sound Transit Express routes 522, 545, 550, 554, DART 773, 775, 903, 906, 907 and 930. Shuttles: routes 24, 90, 106, 255, 348, 554 and RapidRide C Line.

* Route 4 between Queen Anne/Seattle Center and Downtown Seattle; Route 271 between Eastgate and UW only

ESN – Access paratransit

Access Services is currently providing only life-saving and emergency trips depending on conditions and availability. On Monday, Dec. 27, Access also will move to the ESN to mirror fixed route services. Access’ main objective under the ESN will be to provide life sustaining medical transportation. During this time, customers who are not certified to use Access that need to connect to life sustaining medical services can call 206-205-5000 to request services between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Access will also be working closely with fixed route services to help support customers who are stranded due to breakdowns or weather conditions.

ESN – Water Taxi

Water taxi service to West Seattle is currently suspended on Sunday, Dec. 26, due to high winds. With calmer winds in the forecast, regular service is expected to resume Monday. The West Seattle water taxi shuttles are expected to operate if the Water Taxi is operating and if staff and road conditions allow. Customers can receive service updates by subscribing to alerts.

ESN – On-demand services

Via to Transit in south Seattle and south King County, and Ride Pingo to Transit in Kent are temporarily not operating due to roadway conditions.

What Riders Should Know

  • During this period of adverse weather, we encourage people to avoid traveling if at all possible.
  • Riders who intend to use Metro’s services Monday, Dec. 27, should visit the Emergency Snow Network webpage to view details about routes in operation and to identify their options.
  • Posted timetables on Metro’s Schedules and Maps page are a good point of reference for the 60 ESN routes that are operating, but unforeseen roadway and weather conditions may result in delays or unplanned reroutes.
  • Customers should be aware that Puget Sound Trip Planner and third-party apps will not reflect ESN service and will not be accurate for planning itineraries on ESN days.  However, once intending riders know which ESN route they want to use, other Puget Sound Trip Planner features, such as maps, bus stop locations and timetables for ESN routes are valid.  Puget Sound Trip Planner and other apps are still accurate for planning trips or getting schedules for regular service days.
  • Masks are required on all public transportation.

 Metro has tools to help riders plan winter trips.

  • Visit MetroWinter.com for information on how to travel during snow and other difficult weather. If snow routes are implemented, riders can click on the regional map to access status updates on their routes.
  • Transit Alerts: Riders should sign up or update route subscriptions to receive Transit Alerts via text and email for their bus routes. Routes can change quickly depending on snow accumulations.
  • Real-time updates show whether a bus trip is operating, when it’s due to depart or if it’s been canceled.
    • Text for Departures allows riders to text their bus stop number to 62550 and receive the next bus trips headed their way or a cancellation notice. Riders can save 62550 in their phones in advance. During a storm and rough road conditions, Metro’s real-time departure information can become less accurate.
    • “Next departures” is available on both the Puget Sound Trip Planner webpage and the Puget Sound Trip Planner App. Riders can check these sites to see whether their trip is reporting its position and estimated arrival time.
  • Masks are still required on public transportation, with the added benefit that they also keep your face warm in winter weather.
  • Follow @kcmetrobus on Twitter to see the latest travel tips and service information.

 Travel advice during winter weather

  • Whenever there’s a chance of snow, we ask riders to bundle up, pack their patience, and have a plan for traveling during adverse weather. This is important because sometimes routes get changed or modified as we respond to conditions.
  • If a rider’s usual bus route moves to a snow route, it may not serve stops on hills and generally will serve stops at main arterials, transit centers and shopping centers.
  • We also urge riders to monitor news media during severe weather for announcements or information from counties, cities and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT).
  • Be prepared with weather-appropriate clothing and footwear when traveling during storms. Remember, visibility is vital when the weather’s bad and when it’s dark. Riders can use a flashlight or a phone to signal buses while waiting at a bus stop. They might also consider carrying water and snacks. And as always, we ask riders to use crosswalks.

Metro customer service call center, offices

  • Pass-sales office: Depending on road conditions and staffing availability, customers should prepare for the possibility that the service counter opens later than 8 a.m.
  • Lost & Found: Customers can call Metro Customer Service at 206-553-3000 between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday for Lost & Found inquiries.
  • Call us or contact us online:
    • Call us at 206-553-3000, Monday 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. for trip planning and lost & found inquiries and between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. for ORCA information and customer comments. You can also use our online comment form.

MetroWinter.com translated links

Relevant Links