King County Metro has announced that it will pilot its volunteer Community Van program for two years in the communities of Algona and Pacific. Both of these municipalities, south of Seattle, are equity priority areas, meaning that a higher proportion of its residents are low income, people of color, and people with disabilities. This pilot, which is part of the Renton-Kent-Auburn Mobility Project, stations a small fleet of electric Nissan Leaf vehicles at the city halls in both Algona and Pacific. Volunteer drivers, who must undergo a screening process, are scheduled to operate the vehicles ahead of time. Passengers must request rides at least two business days ahead of time by e-mail or phone. Rides can occur at any point of time during any day of the week and can accommodate two to four riders. During the COVID-19 pandemic, rides are limited to one passenger party alongside the volunteer driver. Round trip rides, which can go anywhere two hours away from the origin, are free for the driver and cost the same as a single ride on a King County Metro bus for passengers. Fares can be paid through an ORCA pass, the Seattle region’s contactless transit payment card, or through King County Metro’s Transit GO Ticket app.
The Community Van program, which also operates in other areas outside of Seattle, like Bothell, Sammamish, Kenmore, and Kirkland, is intended to provide customers with a new mobility option, especially when public transportation might be inconvenient. Volunteer- and community-oriented ridesharing programs have the opportunity to connect people to important destinations like grocery stores and pharmacies. Seeing that Algona and Pacific have low levels of transit service, with AllTransit scores of 3.6/10 and 2.7/10 respectively, the Community Van program is hoping to fill a need for residents while addressing transportation equity concerns.
Last updated May 17, 2021