King County Metro was named the best large transit system in North America by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), citing achievements in ridership, safety, access, customer service, financial management, commitment to equity, and sustainability.
APTA judged King County Metro’s performance over the past three years, when the agency significantly increased ridership, launched the nation’s leading reduced-fare program for passengers who earn a lower income, improved passenger and operator safety, and accelerated the industry’s transition to zero-emission bus fleets.
“Being named best in North America is a truly humbling and gratifying moment,” said Metro GM Rob Gannon. “This award goes to each one of the 4,700 employees at King County Metro, in honor of the hard work and amazing customer service they provide every day.”
The judges considered 12 qualitative measurements that covered the previous three years, including: Enhanced safety measures; efficiencies in operating procedures; travel training; and a well-trained workforce to meet the needs of the future.
The award comes weeks after authors of a comprehensive study on the health, economic, and environmental benefits of electric buses encouraged other metropolitan regions to follow King County’s lead to accelerate the transition to all-electric bus fleets nationwide.
Other metropolitan regions are studying King County Metro’s successful reduced-fare program for passengers who earn a lower income, ORCA LIFT, which Executive Constantine launched in 2015. King County Metro also was featured in a recent report, “Inclusive Transit: Advancing Equity Through Improved Access and Opportunity,” as a model for inclusive transit policies and employment practices.
King County Metro provided an all-time high 122 million trips in 2017 on more than 200 bus routes. It also provided nearly 1 million trips on its Access paratransit service for people who have limited mobility options. The agency’s long-range vision, Metro Connects, outlines a plan to double ridership by 2040.
King County Executive Dow Constantine and Metro GM Rob Gannon will receive the Outstanding Public Transportation System of the Year award at the association’s national conference in Nashville on Sept. 25. Executive Constantine will host a local celebration in early September to thank Metro employees, partners, and passengers.