Dept. of Transportation
Metro Transit Division

King Street Center
201 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98104
Metro Online Home

A transportation innovator retires

Bill Roach A pioneer in innovative transportation solutions for the region retired this week.  In his 28-year transportation career in Seattle, Bill Roach may have done more than anyone to shape alternative travel practices in Washington State.  He is the person to thank if you ride a vanpool, use a UPass, or share a FlexCar.

As Metro's Supervisor of Market Development, Roach believed that if we use "invisible solutions" to remove just 5 percent of trips from the road, we could eliminate many freeway traffic jams. To do that he worked to deregulate vanpools so they wouldn't have to file route plans like an airline, influenced  the IRS to ease personal income taxes on alternative commute subsidies, drafted and helped implement the states Commute Trip Reduction law, and created the state's Rideshare Tax Credit for employers who subsidize commutes.  The programs he has launched now form the foundation of Metro's Transportation Alternatives innovations, including:

  • a public vanpool program that grew to be the largest in the US, and became a staple of transit agencies in Puget Sound region;
  • ridematch services that have now grown to the new Web site;
  • a guaranteed taxi ride home for alternative modeusers, now copied around the US;
  • U-Pass, FlexPass and GoPass, comprehensive commute programs that offer flexibility across modes and transit systems, now serving over 120 employers and 80,000 commuters;
  • JobSeeker transportation, serving over 23,000 welfare-to-work clients;
  • adding bike racks on all buses. The rack Metro developed with Sportworks is now used by transit agencies throughout the world.  Bill himself is a bike commuter;
  • Seattles car-sharing program, following a European model. "FlexCar" now has over 1400 members and 40 cars in 10 Seattle neighborhoods.

These programs have garnered numerous awards, culminating in last years "Innovations in American Government" [external link] Award from the Ford Foundation, for Metro's Commute Partnerships Program.

For his retirement party, co-workers composed the following song, to be sung to the tune of John Lennon's "Imagine."

(to the tune of John Lennon's "Imagine")
Imagine there's no traffic
Not even on I-5
They're all in vans and carpools
And if you ask them why

They'll say it's thanks to Bill Roach
Bringing alternatives

Now we've got bikes on buses
Good old "Commuter ool"
Bill's even brought us FlexCar
U-Pass to get to school

Imagine all the blue skies
Living without smog

You may say, Bill's a dreamer
Thank God he's not the only one
Thanks to all his innovations
No one has to drive alone

(by Drew Robinson, King County Metro Transit Planner)

Updated: May 11, 2001