King County Metro implements new rider limits for social distancing

KING COUNTY, Wash. — To promote social distancing on buses, King County Metro announced Wednesday that it had implemented new rider limits

The agency said the new limits would help each person maintain the 6 feet of separation as guided by Public Health – Seattle & King County.

For buses that are 40 feet long, the optimal number of passengers allowed at one time is 12, and for 60-foot buses, the optimal amount is 18.

However, if a bus is below the optimal number, the agency said passengers would be allowed to board at a stop even if the total number of new riders means a bus’s optimal number is exceeded. The agency said in cases like this, a passenger may decide to wait for the next bus.

The agency said it is also developing additional mobility options for customers taking essential trips.

As for the ADA seating section of a bus, the optimal number for a rider is one, which will be counted as part of the overall number, Metro said.

Officials said when a bus reaches or exceeds the optimal number, a driver will pass a stop unless someone on board wants to be dropped off. However, drivers can show their bus is at capacity by switching an external sign to “Coach is full, sorry.”

While operations are reduced, the agency is asking riders to please reserve transit for first responders, health care workers, essential workers and people who rely on Metro to get places for food, medicine and similar critical needs.

As a reminder from Metro, customers taking essential trips on transit should:

• Visit the Reduced Schedule page to ensure their route is operating;

• Check the Canceled Trips page and use Text for Departure to confirm the status of their specific trip; and

• Allow extra time in case their first-choice trip is already at capacity.

As for those with disabilities whose essential travel needs are not being met during reduced operations, they can also use Metro’s Access Paratransit service, even if the customer is not a certified user and would not usually be eligible.

Contact the Access Transportation Call Center at 206-205-5000 for assistance.

Metro Vanpool may also 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, officials said.