Metro just announced that during Bike to Work Week (May 14-18), any cyclist loading their bike on a Metro bus will ride free. All Metro-operated Sound Transit routes (540, 542, 545, 550, 554, 555, 556, and 560) are also included.
More information and a link to the promotion will be added when it becomes available.
30 Replies to “Free Transit for Cyclists May 14-18”
So leave early, cyclists – you may need to wait for two or three buses before you get a space on the rack.
– or –
Be prepared for delays as people who have never used the rack before attempt to load their bike.
Maybe I’ve gotten a little too cynical.
I think the idea is good. But I’m worried that people who will have to watch 2 or 3 buses go by before they find one with rack space might actually be deterred from taking their bike on the bus in the future. And for those who want to put their bike on the bus to cross the 520 bridge, I offer this advice – as soon as you anything crossing the lake with an open rack spot, hop on – don’t wait for the bus going closest to your destination, as you might have to wait and wait and wait, especially if your destination is Redmond and you’re trying to squeeze onto the 545.
For me, I will make a point not to attempt to put my bike on the bus this week – I will either bike the full way to work around the lake, or not bike at all.
I think two or three buses is probably a bit optimistic. I already miss buses due to not having free space for my bike.
Many places celebrate Bike to Work Week with, say, sponsored (read: revenue-neutral) refreshment stations and giveaways. Perhaps they roll out temporary bike valet services or extra-visible temporary bike parking (again, all sponsored). Or they get museums to offer free admission (negligible marginal costs) for those who arrive on bicycles.
We throw away perfectly legitimate fare revenue, while inviting people unfamiliar with the racks to significantly slow down the commute for everyone else… all while violating the very name of the event, which isn’t “Bike Part-Way to the Bus to Work Week.”
We do most of that stuff too, at least for a day.
But yeah, the free bus rides isn’t the best thought out idea.
(oops, slightly wrong link. try this one)
I tend to agree. I guess I don’t get the point. Metro should be providing service that allows people to NOT ride their bike.
It solves the so-called “last mile” problem, Mark… Many folks don’t use transit because it either doesn’t pick up close enough to their home or drop off close enough to their destination. Encouraging riders to bike that initial or last 1-2 miles completes their non-car trip — and has the added benefit of getting in some good exercise.
No, I get that, I just don’t think it’s necessary to give away fares. There are other ways the could have supported biking without giving away free trips for the entire week.
Really stupid idea, Sound Transit.
Maybe on Sounder where there is exponentially more space for bikes, but on buses?
Idiots. Does anyone at Union Station ACTUALLY USE THE SYSTEM???!!!???
Sorry, just realized my venom should be aimed at KC Metro. Well, no surprise.
Wow, haters gonna hate, I guess. I can tell you that the bike/bus combo actually made riding the bus to a work a feasible option for me, and eventually, I found riding my bike the whole way was even better. Also, being able to take my bike on the bus did a lot to help me warm up to riding the bus at all (even when I didn’t have my bike). For an organization that is incredibly lacking in the marketing and promotions department, I applaud Metro on this one.
I don’t have any philosophical problem with the bike+bus combo, as long as you’re as efficient as possible with the rack, and you pay the full fare so as to acknowledge that you’re actually using greater resources than a non-bike-loading passenger.
Here’s the problem with bike+bus as a practical matter:
Taking Bikes On-Board
This is an important option, but remember: Successful transit is crowded! Depending on the overall ridership and peak-demand patterns, most rapid transit agencies will need to impose some limits on bringing non-folding bikes on board, because they take so much space.
Buses rarely allow bikes on-board, even at low-demand times, but if Bus Rapid Transit is intended to fully imitate all the attractions of light rail, perhaps it should imitate this one as well. In general, this requires an interior design that includes substantial side-facing seating so that at low-demand times there’s room to sit with your bicycle, and also adequate opportunites to stand with a bike while holding it.
Bike racks on the exterior of buses are only useful if every rapid bus has them, and even so their capacity is so limited that you can only count on them if they’re not very popular. This is one of those features that only works as long as not many people use it — and those, by definition, don’t scale to the kind of future we’re planning for.
Note: scroll down, and the problem gets solved with solutions that involve cycling to/from the bus without dragging it along the rest of your journey.
tl;dr Bike racks on buses don’t scale.
I get that, but I guess I’m more annoyed by the commenters crying bloody murder because Metro is trying some new and fresh 5-day promotion that might improve ridership.
Yes, it is feasible for many. But there is only a limited supply of bike spaces, and for one wee every Tom, Dick and Harry is gonna amble down to check it out.
Leaving you, the legitimate rider (who bought a month long pass based on 20 workdays, of which this should earn you a refund for five) waiting for the next bus to se if it has any space left.
like anyone who doesn’t bike to work already is going to try this for a free fare
Yep, STUPID idea. I opted to take the morning Sounder from Mukilteo since I knew one other irregular rider and a new rider were taking the 880 off the dock in Mukilteo. So, I headed over to the platform, since the bus had only two spots for bikes….
Not the first time, and unfortunately not the last.
Will there be rebates for those who bought their monthly pass and now find that they did not need one for 5 of the 20-odd workdays this month?
Thank you, ST, for not doing this on the CT-operated buses. With two-bike racks, they are already used up, before having this well-intentioned (but, yeah, poorly-thought-out) promotion.
I appreciate the effort, Metro. No, thanks, on doing this again. (There’s no need to get nasty.)
This won’t save most bike commuters any money. As today is May 2nd, most people have already activated their May pass.
I assume the point is to attract new bus riders. Waiting until it’s too late to skip a pass keeps the benefit focused on those that at least don’t buy passes.
If they’re willing to do this, though, maybe they’ll finally get on board with free or penny rides on New Year’s Eve.
And Independence Day!
We should only hope for the problem that so many people want to ride bikes throughout the system that our bus racks are overwhelmed…
I’ve been bike + bussing in Seattle since 1996. Whenever I get the urge to recommend it to anyone I bite my tongue. In my area there isn’t a lot of competition and I’ve only had to lock my bike to the bus stop sign a few times. But with this promotion the cover could be blown off the best kept secret for getting around in Seattle.
I bet you can predict what the bike club thinks. But, just in case it’s fuzzy, a few quick thoughts on a Friday afternoon. Sure, it’s not a revenue-neutral way to increase ridership with absolutely no impact on peoples’ personal commutes, but I think it’s generally a good idea.
First off, it’s probably not costing KCM too much. Thinking of an upper-level of 15,000 bike boardings per week, the fact that additional incented boardings would be no revenue loss, that many riders already have passes, I’d guess that we’re talking about $5k for the week. It’s a revenue hit, no doubt. But I’d like to think of it as an investment in a more seamless multimodal system. Certainly some people are going to be enticed to give up the car for a day or two that week (we work really hard at Cascade encourage more biking across the region that week and pull out all the stops to make it fun for would-be riders). I’d like to think of these people as future transit enthusiasts. People who might stick with it. People who might just support a measure (or a candidate) that calls for real transit investment.
Second, Metro’s being careful to kindly remind people that the racks might be full. So let’s fill them. And let’s remind them back that we can continue to innovate and accommodate greater numbers, faster transitions for the bike+bus trip, and safer and more convenient parking at stops/stations. We were the first system nationally to go 100% after all. This is a tad old, but those research hounds might still like to see more about the ROI: http://www.nctr.usf.edu/pdf/576-05.pdf.
Finally, I think archie says it well. Making the bus+bike commute is a first step toward seeing outside the commute trip and being a more loyal rider even sans bicycle. Let’s try to channel patience for our fellow riders of all kinds. We’ve all been frustrated with others’ seeming disregard for our important schedules—but we’ve also likely been there at one point in time, whether the first time we loaded a bike on or the first time we used transit. Let’s also try to channel a little appreciation for our well-meaning transit agencies that are trying to do more with less during these difficult times for transit funding and service.
Shout out to STB for today’s roundup photo. Go London! Game on, America.
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