Employer Shared Transit Stop Pilot

Pilot Description

The City of Seattle and King County Metro are collaborating with Seattle Children's Hospital and Microsoft to conduct a pilot program allowing these participating organizations' employer-provided shuttles to share select public transit stops with King County Metro buses. This pilot was carefully developed by participating organizations over the past several years. The terms of the pilot are outlined in a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) among the public and private partners.  

This pilot is being evaluated by Seattle Department of Transportation and King County Metro representatives using agreed-upon performance metrics and evaluation criteria. Should the pilot be deemed successful, it may be expanded to include additional local employers and public transit stops.  

Background

A number of Seattle-area employers operate shuttle services for their workforces. The goals of these shuttles are to facilitate inter-worksite travel, fill gaps in the public transit network that affect their employees' commutes, reduce employee dependence on drive-alone commuting, and reduce regional greenhouse gas emissions.  

Previously, employer-provided shuttle services were not allowed to pick-up or drop-off passengers at public transit stops in the City of Seattle. Instead, these shuttles used three-minute passenger load zones (i.e., white curbs), 30-minute load zones (i.e., yellow curbs), and shuttle bus load zones. Some loading zones are not reliable places to pick up/drop off passengers because they are frequently used by other vehicles such as delivery trucks for local businesses or other short-term passenger loading. Establishing new locations for these zone types can be inefficient and impact neighborhoods by removing already limited on-street parking. Because of this, employers providing shuttle service to their employees sometimes find it difficult to secure reliable locations for their vehicles to pick up/drop off passengers. Limiting employer-provided shuttles to only use these existing load zones results in the potential for a less efficient transit system, diminished shuttle ridership, and increased traffic congestion.  

Goal of this Pilot

To test the feasibility of allowing employer-provided shuttles to use public transit stops while minimizing impacts to public transit operations.

  1. Increasing the safety of all road users by providing reliably safe and efficient stop locations for employer-provided shuttles and their riders. Some loading zones are not reliable places for employer-provided shuttle operators to pick up or drop off riders because they are frequently used by other vehicles, forcing shuttle operators to pick up and drop off passengers in traffic, which creates safety issues and increases traffic congestion.
  2. Maximizing ridership on public transit and employer-provided shuttles. Allowing employer-provided shuttles to use public transit stops will attract more riders who may otherwise drive to work, taking single-occupancy cars off our roads.
  3. Limiting the amount of public curb space allocated to loading zones, thereby preserving on-street parking for adjacent businesses and the public. Today, employer-provided shuttles operating in Seattle use three-minute passenger load zones (i.e., white curbs), 30-minute loading zones (i.e., yellow curbs), and shuttle bus load zones to pick up and drop off passengers. Establishing these types of zones in new locations often requires the removal of existing public parking spaces. If the pilot is deemed successful and employer-provided shuttles are allowed to use select public transit stops on an ongoing basis, it may be possible to eliminate some existing zones currently used by shuttles, freeing up curb space for other uses.

Has this pilot made congestion in neighborhoods worse?

There has been no increase in shuttle traffic in Seattle neighborhoods as a result of the pilot. This pilot is testing the feasibility of allowing employer-provided shuttles to use existing public transit stops, which are almost always located on major arterial roadways. What's more, employer-provided shuttles already operate throughout the city, helping to reduce vehicle trips by providing employees with an attractive alternative to driving alone. Previously, shuttles picked up and dropped off passengers only in the load zone types mentioned above, or worse, in traffic if the designated curb space was unavailable. Those activities, which can negatively impact neighborhood traffic and safety, are being reduced by the pilot, especially during peak periods.

Has the pilot impacted Metro bus service at the designated stops?

One of the goals of the pilot has been to determine how best to minimize impacts to Metro bus service. The bus stops included in the pilot have shown to have enough capacity to accommodate shared use by employer-provided shuttles. Performance at the selected bus stops has been monitored throughout the pilot to determine if employer-provided shuttles are negatively impacting Metro buses and how those effects could be mitigated. So far, two independent research efforts have shown that Metro bus service has been impacted very little by sharing stops with employer-provided shuttles at the selected locations.

How is the pilot funded?

The employer-provided shuttles already pay a permit fee to operate in the City and some of those funds are being used to conduct the pilot. The cost to monitor and evaluate the pilot has been paid for by the participating employers.

Why should the City of Seattle offer private employers access to public services, such as bus stops, for no fee?

There is a permit fee. Each of the participating employers will be required to purchase Shuttle Bus Loading Permits from the City of Seattle for every vehicle that stops at the limited number of public bus stops included in the pilot project. The cost for a permit is $300 per vehicle.

Who determined which stops would be used in the pilot? Did the public/neighborhoods get to participate in the decision?

The transit stops included in the pilot were approved by the City of Seattle and King County Metro. The locations were selected so existing shuttle routes could use them, minimizing changes to existing traffic levels. The number and types of bus stops selected were intended to represent locations with enough situational variability to test employer-provided shuttles' effects on transit stops, where shared use would have a limited impact on public transit operations. Because this is only a pilot, any permanent use of these stops would require future legislative action and would provide opportunities for public input.

What employers/groups/agencies can use the shared stops?

Currently, Microsoft and Seattle Children's Hospital are the only employers participating in the pilot and only their shuttles can use the transit stops at this time. All other types of transportation services, such as vanpools, carpools, transportation network companies (TNCs), charter buses, and shuttle services provided by other employers are not permitted to use the transit stops being tested in the pilot.

How will the City of Seattle ensure proper use of the public bus stops during the pilot?

King County Metro and other public transit buses will continue to have priority at the bus stops, but all transit and shuttle vehicles using shared stops are directed to minimize dwell times of passengers being picked up and dropped off. All employer-provided shuttles participating in the pilot must display a special permit to access the transit stops identified in the pilot project and are restricted to active loading and unloading of passengers at those locations. Existing parking rules and regulations otherwise apply throughout the city and will continue to be enforced by Seattle Police Parking Enforcement.

Will the employees taking the employer shuttles use park-and-ride lots?

The employer-provided shuttles in the program do not serve public park-and-ride lots and the designated stops in the pilot are not next to park-and-ride lots.

How will success of the pilot be determined?

The City of Seattle and King County Metro are evaluating the usage of the pilot bus stops by the employer-provided shuttles 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 employer-provided shuttles using public bus stops. Data has been collected and analyzed to determine whether shared use of the pilot bus stops have caused any significant delays or other operational challenges for King County Metro Transit using the pilot zones. So far, no major operational issues have been observed at the pilot stop locations, and close communication with the private shuttle partners has helped resolve any known issues quickly and thoroughly. Employer Shared Transit Stop Pilot - Evaluation Report (October 2018)

What changes to the pilot are happening in November 2018?

At the request of Seattle Children's Hospital, an additional stop is being added to the pilot to allow operational enhancements to one of their current shuttle routes using existing stops in the pilot. The City of Seattle and King County Metro analyzed the proposed stop and found that its addition would not have adverse impacts to transit service or traffic operations, and that its addition met the intent of the program. Seattle Children's Hospital will begin serving this stop on Monday, November 5, 2018. The City, Metro, and Seattle Children's Hospital will monitor performance at this stop after it goes into operation.

If the pilot is deemed successful, what happens next?

Following evaluation of the pilot, the City of Seattle will review and determine if a policy and permitting process is feasible. The decision to allow employer-provided shuttles to share public transit stops will be based upon specific reviews and approval by the City of Seattle and King County Metro. Such a change would likely require new legislation to amend the Seattle Municipal Code, and could occur no earlier than 2019. This process would include an opportunity for extensive public comment and input before being finalized.

How will the City of Seattle and King County Metro balance employer-provided shuttle demand with bus stop capacity?

The City of Seattle and King County Metro will evaluate all of the bus stops in the pilot to determine if they have reasonable capacity to accommodate employer-provided shuttle use. Bus stops without the necessary capacity to accommodate employer-provided shuttles will be excluded from the pilot. The City and Metro will undertake a similar evaluation if the pilot is expanded or made permanent in the future. Lessons learned from the pilot program will inform how the City and Metro will evaluate proposed use of transit stops for employer shuttles going forward.

How will the City of Seattle collect public feedback about this pilot?

Public comment can be submitted by calling 206-684-4209 or emailing sharedstoppilot@seattle.gov. Participating employers will also collect and share feedback they receive from employees.


Employee Chuttle Pilot Map

Legend

C Children's
Other Bus Stop
M Microsoft
Transit Routes
Metro Zone #On StreetCross StreetIntersection LocationTravel DirectionEmployer
Stops Launched April 2017
2180 Queen Anne Ave N W Harrison St Farside Southbound Microsoft
10562 Sand Point Way NE 40th Ave NE Mid-block Northbound Children's
11420 15th Ave E E Mercer St Farside Southbound Microsoft
12340 E Madison St 25th Ave E Farside Westbound Microsoft
13250 19th Ave E E Harrison St Farside Southbound Microsoft
25200 NE 45th St Union Bay Pl NE Mid-block Westbound Children's
25765 Montlake Blvd NE NE Pacific Pl Farside Northbound Children's
29720 NW Market St 20th Ave NW Farside Westbound Microsoft
29920 NE 45th St Mary Gates Memorial Dr Farside Eastbound Children's
31970 California Ave SW SW Spokane St Farside Southbound Microsoft
37920 NE 65th St 39th Ave NE Nearside Westbound Microsoft
Stops Added November 2018
10580 Sand Point Way NE NE Windermere Rd Farside Northbound Children's