King County employee Metro commuter van pilot: Four-month update 

In October 2019, the Employee Transportation Program (ETP) launched a one-year pilot program offering 100% Metro Vanpool and Vanshare benefits to all King County employees.  Since the launch, employees formed eight new vanpools and one vanshare.  This pilot is an effort to decrease the drive-alone rate to King County worksites not served well by transit as well as provide all employees with an additional ORCA Passport fare-free mode to get to and from work. If the pilot program’s success continues through September, ETP plans to request that this benefit be a permanent transportation benefit for all King County employees.

With more than 14,000 employees at more than 130 King County locations throughout the County, having fully covered Metro commuter van fares opened up a new, fare-free transportation option.  Most County locations in downtown cores have multiple transit choices while other County worksites have limited fixed route options.  Sharing the ride to work in a Metro Vanpool or to a transit connection in a Vanshare is often the best alternative to driving alone for employees, especially those without access to fixed transit due to geographical or scheduling limitations. Vanpools provide a reliable, convenient and affordable one-seat ride for employees.

Since the pilot started, more than 55 King County employees have partnered to form eight new Metro Vanpools and one Vanshare at multiple locations.  So far, vans have formed by employees who have a long commute averaging an 85-mile round trip each day.  These employees commute from locations such as Arlington, Bonney Lake, Lynwood and Puyallup and work at various County worksites including Metro Transit Bases and the Adult Detention Center.  We now have 20 King County vans heading to multiple locations – visit our King Count Metro vanpool list and see if there is a van going your way!

Employees have multiple choices with this new, fare-free mode. Employees may join an existing Metro van along their commute route if there is space, or form their own vanpool with at least four other people. Employees may also form a van to link to or from transit to make that first/last mile connection. Each van needs to have at least two approved volunteer drivers and a bookkeeper for reporting. The free pilot fares cover the van, fuel, maintenance, insurance, roadside assistance and an emergency ride home program. The pilot offer is valid only with King County Metro commuter vans.

So, what are King County employees saying after vanpooling for a few weeks? Employees working at King County Metro’s Transit East Base facility expressed their enthusiasm for their new commute:

  • “I save wear and tear on my personal vehicle, saving money on fuel and toll fees, it’s great being in a vanpool!”
  • “I haven’t had to put gas in my car in two weeks.”
  • “A huge plus side to this program is the effect it has on traffic – reducing the cars on the road and cars parked at East Base, it’s pretty cool”

Concerned about being stuck at work when you have a sick family member or unexpected overtime? Not to worry as all King County employees have access to a  Home Free Guarantee program which provides a ride home during an illness, emergency or unexpected overtime, up to eight verified trips each year. The County reimburses for these emergency trips home to employees who come to work via bus, rail, streetcar, carpool, vanpool, biking or walking.

Learn more about King County Employees 100% subsidized Vanpool/Vanshare program.  If you or your employees have any questions about employee transportation benefits, contact your ETP manager, Hossein at Hossein.Barahimi@Kingcounty .gov.  Share this link with your staff and workgroups today! Current List of Metro Vans to County worksites.