ISSAQUAH - A congestion-busting bus service, the first of its kind in King County's suburbs, debuts today with a most attractive feature: It's free.
The new Issaquah service, called Route 200, will shuttle shoppers to malls, plus drop residents at doctor appointments and leave the kids at the movies.
It is the first permanent, city-oriented service in King County and a welcome change on the oft-clogged streets of Issaquah. The city of 8,400 people is known for Boehm's chocolates, Triple XXX root beer and all-day traffic jams.
"The streets are quite full," said Metro spokesman John Gustafson. "The idea was to provide service that people could use to run errands or even see the sights."
The shuttle is a courtesy of Metro and Trammell Crow, developer of the new 50-acre Commons at Issaquah, with huge stores including Target and Lamonts.
Knowing the Commons would mean even more traffic, city officials required Trammel Crow to pay for part of a shuttle project for two years. Metro made up the remainder.
Full-size Metro buses do serve Issaquah, but they primarily take residents away from the city to Bellevue or Seattle and back again. Cozier, 10- to 12-passenger buses now will run every 30 minutes at regular Metro stops.
"You can't get anywhere in this town on a bus," complained 16-year-old Jordan Selvidge, who said he will use the new service. A friend, Rex Morgan, also 16, said he has been wanting to while away part of his summer at Lake Sammamish State Park but had no way to get there until now.
Two Route 200 buses will run, among other places, along Front Street, Gilman Boulevard, the Commons at Issaquah and Pickering Place.
Robin Fawcett said students and senior citizens will likely ride the bus but wondered how many drivers will park their cars. "Especially if they're going shopping and they have a lot of packages to haul," she said. "I don't know."
Residents may eventually have to pay to ride Route 200, but the fare is expected to be about 25 cents, Gustafson said.