Metro will shuttle Seahawk fans to the game in Seattle this Sunday, despite an earlier decision that new federal rules meant Metro buses wouldn't be used.

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Metro will shuttle Seahawk fans to the game this Sunday and next for $4 each way, despite an earlier decision that new federal rules meant Metro buses wouldn’t be used this year. For the other home games this season, for the same $8 round-trip cost, Metro and private operators will each provide some of the shuttles.

This is news because a decision last spring by the Federal Transportation Administration said sports teams and other groups were required to look to private, not public, transportation to operate shuttles to and from events.

When the Seahawks put shuttle service out to bid, they got a bid from only one company, Starline Luxury Coaches.

The Seahawks rejected Starline as too expensive and because Starline lacked approval to use Metro park-and-ride lots and other staging areas where it could pick up and let off passengers.

The private Northwest Motorcoach Association, of which Starline is a member, said it would run the shuttles anyway, without the Seahawks’ blessing, at a round-trip cost of $25. Now, any fans who have already purchased the $25 bus fare will be phoned to tell them of the Metro plans. Their money will be refunded.

The $8 round-trip fare is $2 more than last year.

“We are thrilled with this resolution,” Seahawks head Tod Leiweke said in a prepared statement. “Metro transit has been extremely popular among our fans and will once again be an excellent option this season.”

Under the new one-year agreement, Starline will subcontract with Metro to provide bus service from lots at Northgate, South Kirkland, Eastgate, Kent and Federal Way.

According to Metro spokeswoman Rochelle Ogershok, last year Metro provided 29,244 fan round trips to Qwest Field football games from five park-and-ride lots.

The total cost for the service was $257,000; Metro collected $175,000 in fares, leaving the Seahawks responsible for about $81,000. But because the Seahawks did promotion of the service, Metro awarded a credit and the Seahawks paid only about $43,000.

This year Ogershok said were Metro to provide shuttles for the entire season, it would cost about $218,000, which would be reimbursed by the Seahawks.

Dave Pearson, spokesman for the Seahawks, said what his team is doing is similar to an arrangement University of Washington made with Starline.

Metro’s costs for the Husky shuttles are $501,000 and, because the contract is being passed through Starline, the UW will pay Starline 5 percent of the cost, or $25,000.

Metro posted the change on its Web site Monday and said starting with the home game on Oct. 12, “Metro will continue to provide some of the Seahawks 2008 game-day premium park-and-ride service, while other service providers will serve the remaining lots.”

The bus service will start two hours before the scheduled kickoff, with buses departing every 20 minutes. The final inbound bus will leave the lot 50 minutes before kickoff.

Buses will return to the park-and-ride lots with the final departure from the stadium 45 minutes after the game ends.

Susan Gilmore: 206-464-2054 or sgilmore@seattletimes.com