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.”