Metro switched all bus service to snow routes by Monday afternoon. As of 2:30 on Monday, the agency planned to keep running snow routes “until further notice,” according to spokesperson Jeff Switzer.
“We made the decision to go on snow routes based on current conditions,” Switzer said. “Based on how conditions change over time, you may start to see certain routes get peeled off of snow routes as weather conditions permit. That’s going to be made on a case-by-case basis, until we really see a good melt.”
Major trolley routes saw some trips cancelled, as Metro had to pull articulated trolleybuses of the road. Shorter trolley coaches are in service where possible, but the agency doesn’t run 60’ articulated trolleybuses in the snow. Articulated trolleybus trips have been replaced, where possible, with hybrid 60’ articulated coaches.
“We have to cancel some trips spread across different parts of King County, different parts, to be able to maintain a certain level of service on those trips but not just pull all of the coaches into downtown Seattle. We try to work to keep a balance,” Switzer said.
According to Switzer, Metro called in extra maintenance staff to bus bases on Sunday night, when snow started falling, to put chains on buses.
“Overnight, we made the decision to proactively prechain the entire fleet in time for the morning service,” Switzer said.
Metro will continue with extra maintenance shifts during the storm, and possibly for some time after, as using chains can damage coaches.
“Sometimes the chains can come disconnected, or they can get wrapped around an axle, or when they come loose they can whip into the shell of bus,” Switzer said. “So we’ll have to take a look at what happens after this cold snap and how we can make repairs.”
Metro will look to return routes to normal service where possible, but King County’s varied topology and microclimates, and the storm itself, will dictate which routes will return to normal service and when. In the meantime, Switzer says Metro is coordinating with SDOT and other road agencies to keep arteries clear.
“We’re just gonna keep on keeping on as best we can to keep service service on the road, and we’ll always be keeping our riders informed using rider alerts, transit alerts, and text messages, so people should really sign up for those on their favorite routes,” Switzer said.