Teaming up with Seattle Children’s, Microsoft, and Metro to support employee shuttles. 

Employer shuttle shared stops. Say that three times fast!  

Transit is popular. Sometimes, a little too popular for us to keep pace with. And sometimes, folks aren’t well enough served by the current system (we’re working on that, thanks to investments supported by Seattle voters and King County Metro). It’s going to take a varied approach to meet the needs of Seattle’s growth and growing mobility appetite.

That’s where employer shuttles come in. They can help fill gaps in the public transit network, support travel between worksites, and provide another option to commuters (because really, who wants to drive alone to work?).

We’ve been working on a pilot with King County Metro, Seattle Children’s, and Microsoft, to share specific existing public transit stops with employer-based transportation shuttles, because sharing is caring. Actually, sharing is critical when it comes to curb space (that’s transpo-nerd speak for the space between the sidewalk and travel lanes, or what most people would think of as parking spaces). Anyway, it’s a highly sought-after resource.

Until this pilot started April 2017, employer-provided shuttle services weren’t allowed to legally pick up or drop off at bus stops in Seattle. Instead, they used loading zones, which weren’t always available. Creating new, special zones for this purpose would impact (read: remove) existing parking and loading spaces which generally isn’t a popular move. So we’ve turned toward testing the feasibility of allowing employer shuttles to use public transit stops without impeding public transit operations.

 

#squadgoals Pilot goals + desired outcomes

The goal here is to see whether we can all share this space. Together, we’ve defined three key desired outcomes:

  • Safety first. Provide a safe and reliable place for people to get on and off of shuttles. By providing a reliable and consistent pickup and drop off location, shuttle drivers won’t succumb to dropping off passengers in traffic, which creates safety issues and adds to congestion.
  • Maximize public and private transit ridership. Allowing employer-provided shuttles to use public transit stops will provide a reliable option for people who might otherwise drive to work, which means fewer single-occupancy cars on the road.
  • Limit the amount of curb space used for loading. By using existing transit spaces, we’re looking to minimize impacts to other parking and loading spaces. If the pilot is deemed successful and employer-provided shuttles are allowed to use select public transit stops on an ongoing basis, we might be able to get rid of some existing shuttle loading zones, freeing up space for other uses.

 

How’s it been going?

So far, so good!

We’re working closely with King County Metro to monitor the use of pilot bus stops through field observations, rider comments, public comments, feedback from public transit and private shuttle operators, and any records of citations or traffic incidents associated with this pilot. We’ve also been collecting and analyzing data to see whether this effort has caused any significant delays or operational challenges for Metro. So far, we haven’t observed any major issues. And thanks to close communication with our partners, we’ve been able to resolve any known issues quickly.

Within the pilot, we’ve carefully selected bus stops that have the capacity to accommodate shared use by employer-provided shuttles. To date, two independent research efforts have shown Metro bus service has been impacted very little by sharing stops with employer-provided shuttles at the selected locations. We also haven’t seen an increase in shuttle traffic in Seattle neighborhoods.

 

What’s next?

Next week, at the request of Seattle Children’s, we’ll be adding in a new stop along Sand Point Way NE to one of their existing routes starting on Monday, November 5.  We’ll work with them and Metro to monitor performance and operations thereafter shuttles begin using this additional stop.

 

Employer Shared Transit Stop Pilot – Evaluation Report (Oct 2018)

 

Comments or questions?

You can share your comments or get in touch with questions by connecting with us at sharedstoppilot@seattle.gov or 206.684.4209. Participating employers will also collect and share feedback they receive from employees.

Learn more about this pilot on our website.