UPDATE: Ride2 shuttle to end service in West Seattle

(Ride2 van on display at December 2018 media briefing)

1:36 PM: One year ago tomorrow, the Ride2 shuttle service’s expansion to West Seattle was announced at a Seacrest media event with city and county leaders. Last night, we started hearing from WSB readers that Ride2 drivers were telling them it was about to be canceled, and King County DOT has just confirmed that:

King County Metro will not renew the on-demand shuttle service Ride2 West Seattle, which was funded by the voter-approved Seattle Transportation Benefit District and served the Alaska Junction and King County Water Taxi dock at Seacrest Park.

At the same time, Metro announced that it will also cease Ride2 Eastgate, which serves Eastgate Park & Ride. Both one-year pilot programs will end on Dec. 20.

Combined, Ride2 Eastgate and Ride2 West Seattle delivered 125 trips per day on average.

Via to Transit, which serves Southeast Seattle and Tukwila, will continue. By comparison, it currently serves around 240 trips per day in the Rainier Beach service area alone, and nearly 1,000 rides per day across its five service areas.

The pilots were designed as 12-month research projects to test innovative solutions to immediate transportation needs. West Seattle’s Ride2 launched just before phase one of the “Seattle Squeeze,” in which the viaduct was coming down and City of Seattle sought to provide an alternative to driving downtown via the West Seattle Bridge. Eastgate’s immediate need stemmed from the fact that Eastgate Park & Ride—the county’s largest park-and-ride—was often full early in the morning, and is located in an area with limited local bus service and walking and biking infrastructure.

Ride2’s key performance indicators included average wait time and in-vehicle time, however the project team kept an open mind in terms of expected ridership. A total of 7,155 users downloaded the Ride2 app used in both service areas, though less than 15 percent have used the service in the last 30 days.

These Ride2 pilots provided valuable data to Metro on the need for certain on-demand services, but ultimately did not meet the milestones necessary to continue the programs given financial constraints.

The Ride2 service is operated by Hopelink, a valued long-standing operational partner with Metro. Hopelink, which began operation of Ride2 West Seattle when the service began and assumed operation of Ride2 Eastgate in February 2019, has 14 drivers assigned to Ride2. Hopelink is working with affected drivers on transition planning, and Metro is actively engaged in this effort.

Metro will fulfill the terms of its contract, continuing to fund Hopelink Ride2 operations for 30 days following Dec. 5, the date that Hopelink received official notice that the service would end.

Ride2 West Seattle

Average ridership hovers around 29 trips per day, costing $84 per trip to operate, and is funded by the voter-approved Seattle Transportation Benefit District.

West Seattle’s service area, including Alki, Fairmont Park, Genesee, High Point, North Admiral, North Delridge, and Riverview, contains an estimated 53,000 residents and 12,000 jobs.

Feedback from customers indicated that Ride2’s window of margin for pickup and drop-off was better suited to connect to very frequent service such as light rail, versus Water Taxi, which sails every 30 minutes in the spring and summer.

3:25 PM: We asked Metro spokesperson Torie Rynning about the seeming contradiction in “ending Dec. 20” vs. funding a full month past Dec. 5. She replied, “Our contract stipulates that we give Hopelink 30 days’ notice before ending service, but through discussion with Hopelink, it was decided that Dec. 20 would be a better operational end date from a staffing and customer experience stand point, given the holidays.”

13 Replies to "UPDATE: Ride2 shuttle to end service in West Seattle"

  • Beau December 10, 2019 (2:28 pm)

    I used it a couple of times. I tried to use it more. It was very confusing and sometimes I’d end up waiting and they never showed up or the ride was rescheduled. I gave up on it. It is a good idea but not as well executed as it could be. 

  • Jort December 10, 2019 (2:57 pm)

    Yet another datapoint revealing that low-occupancy vehicles have higher costs and less efficiency than traditional forms of public transportation like buses and trains. Could the money spent on this vanity project been better spent on, say, an additional C bus trip during the morning crush hours? $89 per ride  is an insane cost per rider. There is no magic technological “solution” for a problem that’s already been solved.

  • PatsFanPNW December 10, 2019 (3:26 pm)

    $84/trip?  While I’m disappointed on the cancellation, it would seem like this is sensible.  Either the cost of operation is too high or the volume too low to warrant.  If we wanted to subsidize on-demand trips to the Water Taxi, perhaps Lyft vouchers would make more sense – it’s only, what, $10 at most?  And, the most realistic thing is – how about more parking to use the Water Taxi?  That’s the biggest issue in my experience.

    • CAM December 10, 2019 (6:13 pm)

      Pierce County had a program like this with Lyft funded by a federal grant that is also being discontinued. The info I read did not say why it was being terminated so it is potentially because it was time limited and not eligible for renewal. 

  • Peter December 10, 2019 (4:55 pm)

    There’s just no substitute for regular transit service. This didn’t even serve the areas most lacking in transit like Beach Drive, Arbor Heights, or Pigeon Point. I always thought it was lame trying dumb gimmicks like this instead of actually expanding bus service to more areas. It was a waste of resources that could have been put to much better use. F-

  • GG Diamond December 10, 2019 (5:33 pm)

    I used it many work days for the last 4 months.  I found it very convenient and I found the drivers to be very friendly.  Marketing of the campaign could have used a boost.  I remember overhearing more than 10 people walking towards the blue vans asking to their friends “who are those for?”  For now I’ll park.

  • Mj December 10, 2019 (5:50 pm)

    Credit Metro for pulling the plug, the $84 per trip is obscene.  Metro should also evaluate other high cost per trip services.  The savings could be used to provide more bus service to the vast majority of the system users and potentially attract new users,

  • Mj December 10, 2019 (7:49 pm)

    Good to see the County pull the plug on an expensive trial program, $84 per trip is outrageous.  This money can now be spent on providing more general bus service and add service to underserved areas

  • George December 10, 2019 (10:47 pm)

    This would have been great for me personally.I couldn’t get the app to work and I’m very technical.Execution might have been part of the performance issue. It’s good that they continue to run trials to get experience with new routes/concepts.I wish there was a bus that went up and down California every 15 minutes – from the Morgan junction to the Admiral junction. That could be a game changer for West Seattle.I’m certainly no transportation expert.

  • anonyme December 11, 2019 (5:42 am)

    As Peter pointed out, Ride 2 only covered areas that already have concentrated bus service.   Provide better coverage to underserved neighborhoods such as Arbor Heights, instead of launching costly experiments at taxpayer expense.  It’s not rocket science.  Listen to customers for a change.

    • Dotti December 16, 2019 (1:15 pm)

      I agree. We live in North Delridge, my son worked downtown and recently started working in West Seattle Junction. It takes him longer  and it takes two busses now to get to work where as before he took one bus straight to his job!! Why do we have to take two busses to get up the hill? Why is there not a bus that circles California to Delridge and back??? Very frustrating. He now Ubers because it takes too long and that is when the 120 aligns with either the 50 or the 128 and if neither are too full for him to get on at all!!!  If Metro would address some of these issues rider occupancy would rise. California Ave has so many busses and yet we have one down here and even when the 120 converts to the Hline it will not fix the issue of travel around West Seattle!!!!

  • You December 12, 2019 (8:52 am)

    I am really bothered by the onerous being put on the riders here. Metro’s execution of this pilot was very poorly handled. The app was very hard to work, riders and drivers a like complained about it. I had to find an alternative way to get to the water taxi more than once due to the app not responding. What’s more, when Ride2 launched, they could not handle the volume. Wait times were an hour or more. So people stopped trying. 7,000+ people tried the service. It’s not question of demand, it’s an issue with execution. 

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