King County Metro and King County Parks have partnered to launch a new transit-to-trailheads service that starts tomorrow. And each shuttle will have two spaces for bicycles.
The shuttle starts at Issaquah Transit Center and makes stops at trailheads throughout the “Issaquah Alps” at Margaret’s Way, Poo Poo Point and East Sunset Way before swinging by the Issaquah Highlands Transit Center and returning to the Issaquah Transit Center.
Shuttles will run every half hour from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and holidays tomorrow through October.
This effort could help improve access to hiking for people who don’t own cars and help ease increasing parking crunches near area trailheads.
“We’ve been seeing alternative transportation as a necessary part of the solution,” said Ben Hughey with the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust. He credited King County Parks with taking the initiative to reach out to Metro to make this happen. “Issaquah is the natural first step for showing demand for a hiking shuttle.”
More on how the shuttle came to be, from Seattle Transit Blog:
Cathy Snow, a program manager with Metro, hopes this new service will get hikers “to leave their cars further behind,” and relieve congestion and improve safety at the trailheads. She said this new route made sense allowing the agency to use vehicles that are idle during the weekend.
Based on input from a recent survey, Ryan Dotson, development program manager at King County Parks, said out of the three proposed solutions a trailhead shuttle met the needs of hikers.
Dotson said easing congestion at popular backcountry trail parking lots is a problem that “really needs to be solved and mostly on weekends and holidays.”
Our region is absolutely spoiled with great outdoors access.
“Very few places in the country have a metro area so close to so many amazing winderness areas,” said Hughey. So it’s a good thing that demand at trailheads is so high. But we need to provide a non-driving way for people to get there.
Though this Issaquah shuttle may only open up limited new opportunities for bike adventures, the concept could be incredible for bringing more bike camping destinations within reach of a non-exhausting day’s ride. Imagine if future shuttles go further beyond Snoqualmie or North Bend, for example.
Service to trailheads could also help ease one of the most persistent excuses I hear from people who are still holding onto a car they rarely ever use: They need it for getting to the mountains.
But for the program to grow, it will need to show success. So hop on a Sound Transit 554 Express bus to Issaquah this weekend and take a shuttle to go hiking. And if you have any ideas for how to use this shuttle for a fun bike adventure, let us know in the comments below.
Here’s the map and schedule: