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King County Metro is piloting a series of on-demand services that connect people with transit hubs (often referred to as first/last mile services). First/last mile refers to the distance between a person’s transit stop and their origin or destination, which can make accessing the public transit network challenging. The first/last mile is especially a challenge for people who do not own a car, prefer not to drive, live within a long walking distance of a transit hub, or can’t find open parking spaces near their closest station.

Metro’s on-demand, innovative services seek to address these challenges and bridge this gap. Using smartphone apps, customers within predetermined service areas are able to request to be picked up on-demand and share rides with other customers to/from the nearest transit hub. The services are also available to customers through call centers and offer wheelchair accessible vehicles when needed.

Service basics

Service area of 1-3 mile radius around selected transit hubs.

Request rides on-demand via smartphone app or call center.

Rides are shared with other Metro customers.

Wheelchair accessible vehicles are available.

Program goals

Grow fixed-route transit ridership.

Improve customer’s access to transit hubs in lower density areas or those with access limitations like overcrowded park & rides or limited fixed route connections.

Uphold King County's guiding principles of equity and fairness, financial sustainability, regional collaboration, and quality local government.

Collect customer and operational data to inform future Metro planning efforts.

Pilot programs

Crossroads Connect

Crossroads Connect is an on-demand service connecting riders in Crossroads, Lake Hills, and surrounding neighborhoods to and from frequent transit service at Rapid Ride B Line stations and the Eastgate Park and Ride.

Via to Transit

This pilot tests the use of a transportation network company (TNC) as a feeder-to-fixed-route solution to connect riders to Link light rail and buses.

  • Transit Hubs: Othello, Rainier Beach, and Tukwila International Boulevard Link light rail stations
  • Hours:
    • Othello and Rainier Beach stations: Monday through Saturday 5 AM – 1 AM and Sundays 6 AM – 12 AM
    • Tukwila International Blvd. station: Monday through Friday 6 – 9AM and 3:30 – 6:30 PM
  • How to book:
  • Service Operator: Via
  • Funding: The Via to Transit service is brought to you by King County Metro in partnership with the City of Seattle.
  • Cost to ride: Standard Metro bus fare
  • How to pay: ORCA card, Transit GO Ticket, credit/debit card in the Via app/call center
  • Service launch: Apr. 16, 2019
  • FAQs

Background

As directed by the King County Executive and the County Council, Metro is becoming a mobility agency to adapt to changes in customer demand and the transportation environment. Metro’s long-range plan, METRO CONNECTS, asks Metro to pilot new and innovative services, including on-demand services that help to serve low-density areas more effectively by providing connections to transit hubs and partnering with private providers to help fill the gaps. With this direction, Metro is piloting on-demand first/last mile initiatives, combining new mobility services with public transit to deliver a rich system of seamlessly integrated origin-to-destination options for our customers.

Why is King County Metro doing this?

While our region’s network of high-capacity transit is growing, its impact is limited when people have difficulties getting to that network. This is particularly true in areas of the county where the density, land use, and infrastructure present challenges to delivering frequent transit services. Through first/last mile pilot programs, Metro is testing how services can overcome those challenges by combining new technologies with innovative service design.

Program planning

Prioritization

Metro has developed a new approach to prioritize areas for on-demand services that connect people to transit. This model was developed as part of a graduate internship project to provide analytical tools to operationalize recommendations in Metro's Mobility Framework Report. That foundational report, and this work, are used by Metro to guide decision-making around providing new transit services that prioritize sustainability, equity, and serving areas with the greatest need.


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