- Residents in King County, WA, home of Seattle, will soon be able to hail an on-demand shuttle to and from transit stops during weekday commuting hours as part of a yearlong microtransit pilot project.
- The Ride2 Park & Ride shuttles, which will begin servicing the area on Oct. 23, are operated by Chariot and Ford Smart Mobility. To start, the service will be free and will operate along 15 Metro and Sound Transit bus routes at the Eastgate Park-and-Ride. Eventually, the service will cost the same as a Metro bus ride, and passengers will be able to use their transit cards to ride.
- "No one likes it when parking isn't available on the way to work. By delivering people to their bus without the hassle to drive and find parking, the Ride2 on-demand shuttle service at Eastgate Park-and-Ride will make commutes easier and more enjoyable," County Council Member Claudia Balducci said in a statement.
Considering the rapid growth of Seattle and the surrounding communities, it's hardly surprising that folks struggle to quickly and efficiently commute to work. King County Metro officials note the Eastgate Park-and-Ride location is the largest in the region with nearly 1,600 parking spaces that fill up each morning. By offering this new shuttle service, an estimated 44,000 residents will be given the opportunity to ditch their cars — and the stress of parking — for a more sustainable transportation alternative.
Chariot said it will use dynamic routing technology, allowing the service to be flexible to the needs of the rider, specifically when determining a pick-up and drop-off access point. After requesting a ride on the app, users will be asked to take a short walk to the pick-up point and wait a few minutes for the shuttle to arrive. King County officials are "assuring" customers will get to their destination within 15-20 minutes.
The trend of launching microtransit services to alleviate congestion and parking needs is picking up in major metropolitan areas nationwide. Chariot has also partnered with San Francisco, while cities like Los Angeles and St. Louis have tested their own microtransit pilots with private partners.
King County Metro officials say this Ride2 pilot is just one of many "innovative mobility solutions to come." The county is also exploring partnerships with various carpooling apps and transportation network companies as it moves forward in trying to develop a "mobility ecosystem with transit at the center."