Changes pending for Metro Transit’s special-event service

New federal rules may affect trips to games, festivals, events

New federal rules may affect trips to games, festivals, events

People who normally use Metro Transit’s special service to get to ball games, community festivals, and other special events may face limitations from using Metro Transit.

New Federal Transit Administration (FTA) rules could significantly restrict Metro’s ability to provide the service.

The rule change does not affect regular Metro bus service. The intent of the new federal regulations is to open up special event service to private charter companies.

The new federal charter service rules went into effect April 30. As a result, Metro no longer operates its Pony Express Shuttle to Emerald Downs in Auburn. People traveling to the track should call Emerald Downs or check its Website for other transportation options.

At this point, Metro’s service for Seattle Mariners baseball games will continue until June 30; however, the status of future Metro special service to Mariners games and other events this summer and fall is unknown.

These changes in federal regulations limit Metro’s ability to offer the special event service as it has in the past. Since these rules are so new, the effect they have on each of the events Metro has been serving is not yet known.

This new federal rule redefines “charter service” to potentially include the service that Metro has been offering to sports venues – such as Emerald Downs, Husky Stadium, Safeco Field and Qwest Field. It also could affect special service to local community fairs and This includes large-scale events such as the Folklife Festival, Seafair hydro races, Bumbershoot, and the Northwest Flower and Garden Show; and smaller celebrations such as the Bellevue Strawberry Festival and Redmond Derby Days.

If Metro service for an event falls under the new definition of charter service, the agency first must contact private charter firms registered with the FTA to see if any are interested in providing the service. If any firms indicate they are interested, Metro will be precluded from providing the service and the private operators will be given the opportunity to negotiate with the event sponsor for the transportation service.

If no private company is willing and able to provide the transportation service, Metro may be able to continue its special service to the venue.

Metro has been working closely with the FTA and event organizers to understand and clarify the rule requirements, and has received an exemption from the FTA to continue operating service to Mariners games at Safeco until June 30. More information about these rules and the impact on Metro service will be provided as it becomes available.

People should also check with event organizers and teams for updated transportation information.