Empty seat pilot program
Use your mobile phone to find and book trips with participating vanpools.
The reassurance of a monthly reserved seat is not for everyone. Many commuters would love to vanpool on a more casual basis.
The Metro Empty Seat Pilot allows commuter van drivers and groups to provide rides to drop-in riders on their existing trip when seats are available, all coordinated via the iCarpool mobile app.
There are a few ways you can be eligible as a rider or vanpool group.
You work in:
- Eastgate / Factoria
- Des Moines Creek Business Park
Or, your vanpool (or the one you want to ride in) starts in:
- Sammamish area
- Issaquah area
Interested groups in the pilot area simply need to confirm eligibility to get started. A Metro rideshare services representative will verify eligibility and provide further details. Please note:
- Groups are NOT expected to change their routes or to pick up drop-in riders at their home. We may ask groups to add a convenient stop along their existing route where riders can join; however, groups ONLY need to stop if a drop-in rider has requested a ride and seats are available.
- All coordination is handled via the iCarpool app. Group bookkeepers do not need to report drop-in riders on monthly reports. Drop-in riders do not submit a program application.
- All eligible groups volunteering to participate will receive a $25 gift card to share. Additional incentives are available for groups providing repeat trips—up to $150.
- Existing riders may also use the app—at no charge—to book trips with other participating groups. They may also use in-app messaging to communicate with each other and the driver.
For drop-in riders
If your commute goes along I-90 past Eastgate or if you work in Eastgate, SODO, or the new Des Moines business park, there might be a van going your way!
View the select five groups helping to pre-test the pilot. If you might be able to ride with them, follow the steps below to see if you match with their exact location and times.
These select groups are helping to pre-test the pilot.
Test trips will begin happening soon. View list below to see if they are happening in your area. If yes, refer to the iCarpool app for times and locations. After testing, up to 200 groups will be providing trips during the pilot.
|Seattle||Dept. of Ecology||Bellevue - Eastgate||No|
|Tukwila||T-Mobile||Bellevue - Eastgate||No|
|Sammamish||T-Mobile||Bellevue - Eastgate||No|
|Snoqualmie||Starbucks||Seattle - SODO||No|
- Download the iCarpool app from the App Store or Google Play.
- Create your account and add a trip from home to work.
- Enter ICARPOOL25 into the promotions and discount codes box of the payment screen to get $25 in FREE ride credits just to get started. After successful pre-test, nearly 200 groups will be providing trips across the pilot areas from all across the Puget Sound area.
That is all there is to it! iCarpool uses a 'Smart Match' process to notify riders when there are matching trips going their way—once in the evening for their morning trip, and once in the afternoon for their evening trip. Riders can also manually search for trips in the app any time of the day.
After your group eligibility has been confirmed, Metro will coordinate your trip information with iCarpool and notify drivers that they may begin offering trips to drop-in riders. Driver steps to offer trips, pick-up / drop-off riders, and finish trips are listed below:
- Offer seats for your morning trip. Open your morning work trip before 8:00pm the night before and select "Accept Ride Requests". Evening return trips should be opened before 3:00pm.
- Confirm riders before every trip. Before you start the van, select "View Ride Requests" to see which stops on your route riders will be meeting you at.
- Start the trip. Select "Start Trip", put the phone down, start the van, and begin your commute.
- Pick up / drop off riders:
- While in park at each stop, select "Pick Up" to sign riders into the van after they show their boarding pass (select "No Show" for any riders who booked a trip but are not at the stop).
- If a rider leaves, select "Drop Off" to sign them out of the van before you begin driving again.
- Finish the trip. After parking at the final stop, select "Finish" to end that trip. Pro Tip: Open your return work trip right then and there to allow Smart Match to help find riders!
Connect with Rideshare
Local Calls: 206-625-4500
WA Relay: 711
201 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98104-0770
Accessible commuter vans are available to groups upon request; WA Relay users, please dial 711 to get in touch with rideshare staff (available 8 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday); RideshareOnline.com translation service available to ESL customers via a conference by calling 206-625-4500 (available 8 AM to 5 AM, Monday through Friday).
Rideshare contact list
We appreciate your participation in our commuter van program! Please call us if you need assistance—our phones are staffed Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm. For emergencies after hours, weekends or holidays, your call will be patched into our answering service.
Fender bender, damage or issue with your van? Call your maintenance representative.
Not sure who your Accounting Representative is? Please call anyone listed below for help or a referral.
Starter kit for vanpool and vanshare
TripPool volunteer driver toolkit
Community Van driver toolkit
Commuter Van Orientation
New drivers and bookkeepers in the King County Commuter Van Program are required to take online training and receive a completion letter to become approved drivers or bookkeepers in our program. To take this orientation, you must be authorized and have been contacted by a Rideshare Operations representative.
Are you authorized and ready to complete your commuter van orientation?
Need assistance? Send us an email
Vanpool Seat Finder
Enter complete home and work addresses below for the most accurate list results. Visit RideshareOnline.com to create and view custom trip lists with additional search filters, personal trip calendar, and available rewards.
Emergency and accident procedures
If you have an accident
- Protect the scene:
- Turn on hazard flashers
- Move the van out of traffic
- Make sure riders are in a safe location
- Set up reflectorized triangles from the kit in your van
- CALL 911 and report the accident (regardless of the severity).
- Call King County Metro Transit at 206-625-4500 and report the accident immediately.
- Exchange information with the other driver(s):
- Complete the back section of the Vanpool Accident packet envelope
- Obtain names, addresses and phone numbers
- Driver license numbers
- Vehicle license numbers
- Insurance information—You are insured through the King County Metro Transit Division (206-625-4500)
- If police are on the scene, obtain officer's name, badge number and jurisdiction.
- Ask all witnesses to complete the "Witness Courtesy Cards" in the accident packet and put them in the mail.
- Complete a Traffic Collision Report (inside accident packet) in the glove compartment for all accidents. Within 48 hours, email the report, fax to 206-684-2166 or send by regular mail using the postage paid envelope provided in the packet.
If you have a breakdown:
This information is for King County Metro VanPool drivers and their use.
Protect the scene where your van is disabled and call a Vanpool Service Representative; during regular business hours (8:00am-5:00pm), after hours call 206-625-4500 or 1-800-427-8249; the on-call staff member will be paged. You may call collect, but you must identify yourself as a vanpool driver for the call to be accepted. If you are calling from a telephone that does not accept return calls, please ask the answering service to patch you through to the on-call staff member. Be sure to have the following:
- Your vehicle HOV number, (for example HOV1234)
- Your exact location
- Your van's condition and/or suspected problem
- A phone number where you can be reached
For further information see Section 3 of your VanPool Program Manual.
If your van requires towing
Leave the van in a secured area, lock it, tell Metro and the towing company where you will leave the keys. Do not take the keys with you. Metro will have the van towed to the nearest dealership, assigned garage or Metro facility.
Below are contracted King County Metro commuter van maintenance and repair garages. Please check with your Maintenance Rideshare Services Representative (MRSR) at 206-625-4500 to confirm which garage your van is assigned to.
Note: These are contracted facilities for King County Metro's express purposes and use or listing of these facilities does not imply any type of recommendation.