Transit Agency Launches Integrated Microtransit Service, King County, WA, 2023
5 minutes Date Launched: Mar 6, 2023
Credit: King County Metro
King County Metro is launching Metro Flex, a new on-demand microtransit service. Metro Flex combines three existing microtransit services hosted across King County: Community Ride, Ride Pingo to Transit, and Via to Transit. With these three services, King County partnered with three separate technology vendors. Now, King County is partnering with just Via to support this service’s booking and routing technology. Metro Flex allows customers to request shared curb-to-curb rides within seven zones, including Juanita, Kent, Othello, Rainier Beach/Skyway, Renton Highlands, Sammamish, and Tukwila. Customers can start and end their rides anywhere within a single zone. In contrast, some legacy microtransit services were designed only to connect customers to and from fixed-route transit services as a first-/last-mile mobility option.
Customers can request their rides in real-time using the Metro Flex app on their smartphones. Depending on their timing, origin, and destination, the app might direct customers to use fixed-route services in their area instead. Fares for Metro Flex follow the same structure as that on Metro’s fixed-route bus system. Customers can pay their fares using an ORCA card, a Transit GO Ticket, or credit or debit cards. An ORCA card enables users to transfer between the bus and rail systems at no extra cost.
With this transition to Metro Flex, King County acknowledges that microtransit is integral in advancing shared mobility in lower-density areas. Microtransit has become increasingly popular across many communities over the past several years, and such instances demonstrate their successes. Now that many communities have piloted microtransit, some will likely implement on-demand transit as a permanent fixture in their transportation networks.