SEATTLE - Five days after the Alaskan Way Viaduct was closed for good and three days into workweek commuting, there was cautious optimism about how the area is handling the changes from King County Metro’s Service Development Managing Director.
Bill Bryant told members of the King County Council’s Mobility and Environmental Committee on Wednesday that it appears more people are avoiding the commute completely, taking public transportation and traveling off-peak.
“So far, so good,” he said.
Bryant said he’s watching Metro bus ridership “very closely.”
“We have been carrying about 1,500 to 1,700 people per day during the first couple days on the extra buses alone,” Bryant told councilmembers.
Those “extra” buses are the 20 on standby, “strategically placed around the county for deployment as needed,” according to King County Metro.
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Bryant told KIRO 7 the agency does not yet know how many people total have been riding public transportation in the early days of the viaduct closure, but he said commuters seem to be trying new ways to get to work.
Council member Dave Upthegrove said he’s one of them. The closure “has changed my commuting habits for the better,” Upthegrove said during the council meeting. “I am back to exploring options to connect myself with the light rail station. I have left my car home since the New Year.”
David Sowers, Deputy Program Administrator at the Washington State Department of Transportation, attended the briefing today and agreed all is going smoothly so far.
However, Sowers is concerned about what will happen when it starts to rain. He also said, “Thursdays are typically our heaviest travel days for commuting.”
“We’re concerned about tomorrow. We want to make sure that people stay in the habits they’ve developed over the course of the week,” Sowers told KIRO 7 after the Council meeting. “It’s a three-week marathon.”
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