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Tailored to fit: Seeking Vashon participation to improve island transportation

You're probably familiar with Metro’s Vashon bus routes 118 and 119 and have seen our Access paratransit vehicles, but do you know about our alternative services program? Metro is working with communities across King County to develop innovative, customized mobility services to meet local transportation needs.

We’re exploring both tried-and-true approaches, like Metro routes with flexible service areas that are operated through a Metro/community partnership, and cutting-edge ideas like flexible, on-demand ridesharing that uses an app to connect drivers with people who want a ride right away.


Metro has been working with Vashon Island residents since September 2015 to learn what works—and what doesn’t work—about island transportation and look for areas that could be improved with alternative services.

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Metro is working to finalize and launch a set of alternative service solutions based on public feedback received in April 2016 on proposed concepts and additional guidance from the stakeholder working group. Read a summary of the public feedback we received in April.

Three pilot projects are in the works

After receiving input from our stakeholder working group and Vashon residents, Metro recommends pursuing three alternative service solutions that will provide new, tailor-made transportation options for the island. These solutions will be part of a two-year demonstration project.

Community Transportation Hub

A physical (on the island) or virtual (online) place for islanders to connect in order to share rides or learn about local transportation options.

Community Van

Metro will partner with a local organization and provide accessible vans for pre-scheduled group trips to popular island destinations. Trips are planned and promoted by a Community Transportation Coordinator, and vans are driven by volunteer drivers.

Real-Time Rideshare

Informal carpooling option that matches riders and drivers traveling to the same destination via a smartphone app.

Residents provided feedback at an open house or via an online survey about whether these concepts would meet the needs we’ve identified, and whether they would be likely to use the services. The stakeholder working group provided guidance as Metro decided which solutions to pursue.

Four concepts were originally designed with input from the working group and shared with the public for input. Metro looked more closely at the capacity of Access vans to meet the transportation needs of the general public, and found that there would not be as much capacity as we had originally thought. We may consider implementing the concept we called "Open Door Access" later, depending how well the Community Van meets the community’s transportation needs.

Metro staff members are working on a plan for rolling out these solutions on the island. Stay tuned for updates!

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Stakeholder working group

To begin the Vashon alternative services outreach process, Metro convened a stakeholder working group that met five times between September 2015 and July 2016. The group included representatives of organizations such as service providers, employers, and schools as well as at-large members to represent the interests of island residents. We wanted to make sure all voices were welcomed and heard.

The working group collaborated with Metro staff members to identify transit and mobility needs, review potential alternative service solutions, and make key recommendations to incorporate in Metro’s alternative services approach for Vashon.

How public input shaped this process

Beyond the working group, Vashon Islanders participated in the alternative services planning process by doing the following:

  • They helped engage others by sharing information about the planning process and encouraging people to get involved.
  • They completed two online surveys that helped Metro learn about travel patterns and ways public transportation could be improved, and provided feedback about which ideas deserve consideration. Read summaries of what we learned during our outreach in fall 2015 and spring 2016.
  • They attended an April 2016 public meeting to learn more about the recommended alternative services solutions and share their thoughts about those solutions.

To sign up for email updates about this project, send an email request to Community Relations Planner DeAnna Martin or call 206-477-3835.

Contact us

DeAnna Martin
Community Relations Planner
Send DeAnna an email
or call 206-477-3835

Creative solutions

Metro’s Alternative Services Demonstration program brings service to parts of King County that don't have the infrastructure, density, or land use patterns to support a dense network of traditional fixed-route bus service. In such areas, alternative services may be a better match for community transportation needs. They may also be more cost-effective.

This four-year demonstration program is an opportunity to experiment with innovative transportation solutions. Learn more about the program and the solutions we’re considering or implementing in other communities.

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