We’re working on a new mobility on demand solution thanks to a grant from Transit Planning 4 All!

Tapping an ORCA card at a Link Light Rail station in pre-pandemic days. Photo Credit: Steph Hirsch, SDOT.

We were recently awarded a grant from Transit Planning 4 All to inclusively plan and implement a mobility on demand solution in the Seattle-King County region!  

Although many Seattleites are not moving around nearly as much as we used to because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us still rely on transit.   

Transit Planning 4 All supports communities across the country to design and implement transportation solutions in partnership with people with disabilities and older adults.  

Through March 2022, we will work with the community to plan and implement on-demand solutions that address existing mobility challenges for accessing mass transit like buses, Link light rail, and Seattle Streetcar.  

Mass transit is often the most reliable and cost-effective way to get around, especially for people with disabilities and older adults. However, barriers to accessing transit do exist. It’s part of our role to minimize or eliminate those barriers with our work in New MobilityTransportation Equity, and accessibility – among other programs and projects.  

Some barriers include:  

  • Bus stops and stations without ramps that support those using wheelchairs  
  • Infrequent or far away bus stops 
  • Limited parking around bus stops and stations 
  • Lack of bus stop amenities like shelters, benches, or accessible real time information 
  • Poorly maintained or incomplete sidewalks to safely walk to transit stops 
  • And others that we hope to hear about from you and work to address with our solutions. 

On-demand connections to transit benefit everyone, but especially people with disabilities and older adults. 

Mobility on demand uses technology, integrated transit networks, real-time data, and more to create a transportation system that works well for everyone – most importantly, the person traveling – safely and efficiently. Some mobility on demand solutions support first/last mile connections, which connect people from their home to transit hubs. These connections are important for people without a car or those who live a long walking/rolling distance away from a transit station.  

Mobility on demand solutions here and around the country include: 

  • Through our partnership with King County Metro, Via to Transit, riders can request a ride through an app to and from the Othello, Rainier Beach, and Tukwila International Blvd transit stations.  
  • The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) developed PDX WAV to make reliable, safe vehicle-for-hire services (like Uber and Lyft) more easily accessible to people using mobility devices. 
  • Minnesota’s Dakota County has partnered with Lyft to allow those accessing the county’s Social Services case management services to use Lyft to get to and from their employment.  

Read more about how policies and partnerships focused on mobility on demand can equitably enhance access to transportation from the National Center for Mobility Management

We work to engage the community in all of SDOT’s projects and programs. For this project, we will be using Transit 4 All’s Pathway to Inclusion Tool to guide our inclusive planning process and implement the resulting on-demand solutions.  

We are using the Pathway to Inclusion Tool to both assess ourselves and ask others to assess us as we try to achieve Level 5 (“Participants Share Decision Making”) and Level 6 (“Participants Play Lead Roles”).  We will be engaging with community members in a variety of ways including in-depth interviews, surveys, focus groups, and/or workshops. The goal is to increase communication and trust to create a more inclusive and transparent process that supports community-driven mobility on demand solutions. 

This work has the opportunity to build on some of the community connections we have made through the Age Friendly Seattle initiative as well as Regional Reduced Fare Permit engagement.   

Thank you to partners at the University of Washington, King County MetroSound GenerationsDisability Rights WashingtonTransportation Choices Coalition, Northwest Access Fund, Sound TransitAsian Counseling and Referral ServiceHopelink, and the many individuals who wrote letters of support and helped us secure the grant. 

People gathered at a Seattle Streetcar station.
Waiting for the Seattle Streetcar during a Regional Reduced Fare Permit field trip. Photo Credit: Steph Hirsch. 

We look forward to keeping you updated as we engage the community and develop the solution! We are working on a website to keep you updated on the progress of this project. Stay tuned.