Various private transportation entities have caught on to the Big Deal that is the Period of Maximum Constraint, starting with the permanent closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct on Friday, January 11 at 10 pm, three weeks before the SR 99 tunnel under downtown opens.
Lyft and Uber both rolled out $2.75 discount deals Monday on shared rides (on Lyft) (as in two or more passengers, in addition to the paid driver) and all rides on Uber to and from four park & rides and nine light rail stations. The deals run through February 15, 2019.
Light rail stations included in the deals, from north to south are:
- University of Washington Station
- Beacon Hill Station (Uber only)
- Mt. Baker Station
- Columbia City Station
- Othello Station
- Rainier Beach Station
- Tukwila International Boulevard Station
- SeaTac Airport Station (Uber only)
- Angle Lake Station (Uber only)
The four park & rides included in the deal are:
- Northgate Transit Center Park & Ride, with its very frequent 2-way express connection to downtown on Metro route 41, its frequent peak-direction First Hill Express on route 303, and its less-frequent connection to South Lake Union on Metro route 63.
- West Seattle’s Seacrest Park water taxi dock, from which there will be more weekday water taxi runs, from Monday, January 14 through March 27. However, Metro and SDoT are partnering on even cheaper options to the dock and the Alaska Junction, including Ride2 service, more runs on water taxi connector routes 773 and 775, more parking near the dock, and dedicated Metro vanshare parking spots.
- Olsen/Meyer Park & Ride (next to Arrowhead Gardens), from which the infrequent peak-direction-only Metro route 113 heads downtown. (Lyft only)
- Burien Transit Center, from which Metro routes 121, 122, and 123 depart frequently in the peak direction.
Per Todd Kelsay, Lyft Pacific Northwest General Manager, “The stations were chosen with guidance from the City and we worked directly with SDOT to identify the stations where they are anticipating the biggest need and where we could have the greatest impact to make sure riders can get to and from transit centers easily.”
While the rideshare companies have become prolific in getting subsidies from transit agencies across the country to help solve last-mile problems, including with Pierce Transit and with Sound Transit on Mercer Island, neither Lyft nor Uber are getting any subsidies for the Highway-99-closure-period deals listed above.
There are also carpool parking permits available at various Sound Transit facilities.
Unfortunately, Sound Transit won’t be able to increase the number of 3-car Link trains running during this period, as it is maxed out on capacity, per spokesperson Kimberly Reason. Reason offered the following tips to commuters for getting through the period:
- Be prepared for extra crowded trains and plan extra time for your commute in the event you have to wait for the next train [which will come 6 minutes later during peak commute times, and on which there is usually the most spaciousness on the third car].
- Talk to your manager about working an alternative schedule so you’re not commuting during peak hours.
- Better yet, ask your manager if you can telework so you can avoid commuting during the closure period altogether.