A first-of-its-kind program: Microsoft, Seattle Children’s shuttles are now using Metro stops

Microsoft and Seattle Children’s have partnered with transportation officials for a pilot program that allows the employee shuttles to use some public transit stops, in part to free up curb space.

For the first time, some company-owned buses in Seattle are using public transit stops to reach employees, signaling a shift in the role of private shuttles in the city’s fast-changing transportation network.

Microsoft and Seattle Children’s hospital buses are paying to share nearly a dozen stops with King County Metro Transit as part of a new, city-sponsored pilot project that aims to improve employees’ access to the shuttles and free up curb space.

Company-sponsored shuttles have long been a part of the Seattle area’s transportation system; many employers have services to take employees to and from work sites.

But a network of private buses that can replace other commuting options has grown with the demand to alleviate traffic congestion by lowering the number of people driving alone.

Traffic Lab is a Seattle Times project that digs into the region’s thorny transportation issues, spotlights promising approaches to easing gridlock, and helps readers find the best ways to get around. It is funded with the help of community sponsors Alaska Airlines, CenturyLink, Kemper Development Co., Sabey Corp., Seattle Children’s hospital and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. Seattle Times editors and reporters operate independently of our funders and maintain editorial control over Traffic Lab content.

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For environmental and transportation advocates, that’s the good news. The bad news: More shuttles over the years in Seattle have joined the competition for limited curbside loading and unloading space.

For the pilot project, the stops are on existing shuttle routes, meaning the buses have been picking up and dropping off passengers in the same areas, though now they’ll stop near Metro’s bus…

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