top of page

King County Metro will activate its Emergency Snow Network Friday, Dec. 23


With ongoing freezing temperatures and a widespread freezing rainstorm forecast for the region, King County Executive Dow Constantine directed Metro to shift bus service to the Emergency Snow Network starting Friday, Dec. 23. The move focuses service on 65 core bus routes operating on snow routes that the City of Seattle and other jurisdictions prioritize for snow and ice removal. The Emergency Snow Network (ESN) will be effective at 4 a.m. Friday, Dec. 23, until 4 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 24.


This approach delivers transit service for the most riders and on streets and highways that are more reliably treated during adverse weather. Customers will be able to board service on 65 core bus routes and shuttles prioritizing higher ridership routes, avoiding steep hills and primarily serving key arterials and transit centers. The routes were developed in coordination and collaboration with jurisdictions, including the City of Seattle.

Metro will continue to operate all service on snow routes Thursday, Dec. 22, until switching to the ESN early Friday morning.

Routes operating as part of the ESN will serve core centers around King County, via RapidRide A, B, C, D, E and F lines, routes 3, 4 (between Seattle Center and Downtown Seattle only), 5, 7, 10, 21 (local service only), 24, 27 (snow shuttle only), 31, 32, 36, 40, 44, 45, 48, 60, 62, 65, 67, 70, 75, 90 (downtown Seattle/First Hill snow shuttle) 101, 105, 106 (between Renton Transit Center and Mount Baker Transit Center only), 120, 124, 128, 131, 132, 148, 150, 160, 161, 165, 168, 181, 184, 230, 231, 239, 245, 250, 255, 271 (between University of Washington and Eastgate only), 331, 345, 348, 372, 522, 545, 550, 554, 631 (if road conditions allow) 773/775 (if Water Taxi is running), 903, 906, 907 and 930.

Emergency Snow Network Map (PDF)

Metro staff will be monitoring the performance of this network and making adjustments as needed to improve operations. Customers in outlying areas and neighborhoods should prepare for reduced or temporarily unavailable bus service due to inclement weather, difficult travel conditions and topography.

“Due to ongoing frigid temperatures, the forecast for freezing rain and limited bus fleet availability, we are shifting to the Emergency Snow Network on Friday morning. This positions us to safely serve customers on a core system for those who need transit most,” said King County Metro General Manager Terry White.

Metro has operated on snow routes and reduced service levels since Tuesday morning, Dec. 20. Forecasts predict temperatures will increase and roadway conditions will improve Friday afternoon and evening, and Metro intends to restore most routes Saturday morning, Dec. 24. A list of temporarily suspended routes and snow routes will be updated on Metro’s service advisories page on Saturday, and riders are encouraged to check their route before traveling.

Vehicle maintenance crews continue their hard work

Metro vehicle maintenance staff have been juggling chaining operations and troubleshooting damaged buses during the recent snowstorms. The weather pattern is expected to break later on Friday and through the weekend, hopefully allowing crews to again focus solely on bus repairs to support ongoing transit operations.

Emergency Snow Network – other services

  • Access Paratransit: Access will also move to the ESN to mirror fixed route services. Access’ main objective under the ESN will be to provide life sustaining medical transportation. During this time, customers who are not certified to use Access that need to connect to life sustaining medical services can call 206-205-5000 to request services between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Access will also be working closely with fixed route services to help support customers who are stranded due to breakdowns or weather conditions.

  • On-demand services: Community Ride, Community Van, Ride Pingo and Via to Transit are suspended during ESN and when buses that serve surrounding neighborhoods are operating on snow routes.

  • Water Taxi: Sailings for the Vashon and West Seattle routes are operating, however high winds and/or waves can disrupt or cancel sailings.

What riders should know

We encourage people to avoid traveling if at all possible. Temperatures are expected to rise above freezing, however wind chill will be an ongoing concern for customers. Cold weather shelter locations also are available through the King County Regional Homelessness Authority.

While fare collection will continue, fare enforcement is suspended when the Emergency Snow Network is activated. The ability to pay fare is not a barrier to traveling safely during dangerous winter weather.

Riders who intend to use Metro’s services should visit the Emergency Snow Network webpage to view details about routes in operation and to identify their options.

Posted timetables on Metro’s Schedules and Maps page are a good point of reference for the 65 ESN routes that are operating, but unforeseen roadway and weather conditions may result in delays or unplanned reroutes.

Customers should be aware that Trip Planner and third-party apps will not reflect ESN service and will not be accurate for planning itineraries on ESN days. However, once intending riders know which active ESN route they want to use, other Trip Planner features, such as maps, bus stop locations and timetables for ESN routes are valid. Trip Planner and mapping/transit apps are still accurate for planning trips or getting schedules for regular service days.

Before traveling

Riders are encouraged to:

  • Visit Metro’s service advisories page for up-to-date information on how your Metro and Sound Transit routes are affected.

  • Sign up for transit alerts for your favorite routes to receive updates via email and text.

Real-time information on the road

  • Get real-time updates about your route at your bus stop. Text your bus stop number to 62550 for an automated list of the next bus trips headed your way. Each trip will either show an estimated arrival time, “s” for scheduled, or “canceled.” Save 62550 in your phone in advance to help yourself remember.

  • Next departures information is also available on Metro’s Trip Planner.

Alternatives for routes, services and programs fully suspended during the Emergency Snow Network (ESN)

Routes, services, and programs suspended during ESN: 1, 2, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 22, 28, 29, 33, 43, 49, 50, 55, 56, 57, 64, 73, 79, 102, 107, 11