We traveled to West Seattle on the Water Taxi with Seattleites from the Lake City and South Park Senior Centers!

Some of the many participants in the field trip. Photo Credit: SDOT.

Together with the Lake City and South Park Senior Centers, we recently took a couple of field trips as part of our Senior Regional Reduced Fare Permit (RRFP) Program

On the trip, we took the bus with senior Seattle residents from the Lake City and South Park Senior Centers to the Water Taxi in downtown.

We rode the Water Taxi to West Seattle, and enjoyed lunch from local restaurant Marination Ma Kai. Yum! 

Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Community Liaisons provided interpretation on the field trip in both Spanish and Vietnamese. Across languages, these Seattleites learned about how to use their RRFP card, took the Water Taxi for the first time, and tried some new foods from a local business. 

Enjoying Marination Ma Kai. Photo Credit: SDOT.

Taking the bus and water taxi is just one way to flip your trip and avoid traveling on detour routes during the West Seattle Bridge closure. 

Emily Billow, Program and Volunteer Coordinator with the Lake City-Northgate Senior Project, explained: 

We have been partnering with SDOT promoting the RRFP program for about three years now. We work collaboratively with SDOT and Department of Neighborhoods to provide Neighborhood Pop-ups for older adults and those living with disabilities, where we are able to sign folks up for the RRFP cards, refill them, and answer general transit-related questions.  

We also have a unique opportunity to get our participants more comfortable with using transportation by taking them out on “field trips,” like this one to West Seattle. During the pandemic, we were offering virtual field trips, which were a great way to show how hard our transit system was working to be as safe as possible and to update older adults on the changes that were happening. This was our first in-person field trip and it was great!  

One of our participants has lived in Seattle for 30 years and hadn’t ever been on the water, so this was a great chance to show her and her husband that they could and it’s accessible for them. These trips are very popular with our participants, they fill up fast and really allow folks to feel more comfortable with using transit.  

Hopelink staff accompanied the seniors on all transit to provide on-site education about how to use each mode of transit as they were traveling. 

We also talked to Laura Lee Sturm, SDOT’s Transportation Access Program Manager, who said,  

It was so exciting to see the participants exiting the water taxi and joining us in West Seattle. I had several seniors approach me asking if I knew that my ORCA card would work on the Water Taxi and they can’t wait to show their grandkids. I love that this program provides a fun way for seniors to explore new modes of transportation and that they’re excited to share what they’ve learned with their families and communities. 

Never heard of the RRFP program? Let us give you a rundown: 

We launched the RRFP Program to provide older adults and riders with disabilities affordable access and education for transportation in the Puget Sound region. The RRFP ORCA card entitles senior riders (ages 65+), riders with a disability (ages 6-64), and Medicare cardholders to $1.00 reduced fare on transit. 

Our goals are to enroll people in the RRFP program and help participants understand and feel more comfortable using public transit through culturally centered and language appropriate transit education. We have held other similar events in the past, such as a field trip in 2019 on the Link light Rail and annual transit orientation classes from Hopelink Mobility Services. 

Together we work with four community senior centers to support older adults and riders with disabilities in navigating and affordably accessing Seattle’s public transit system with an RRFP card.  

The RRFP program is a partnership between SDOT’s Transit Access Programs, Hopelink Mobility Services, King County Metro, and four community-based organizations: Asian Counselling and Referral Services (ACRS), International Drop-In Center (IDIC), South Park Senior Citizens, and Lake City Senior Center (Sound Generations). 

Our work to create an age-friendly Seattle doesn’t stop here. Here are some of the other ways we are supporting residents of all ages to travel safely. 

  • We are changing pedestrian signals so people walking and rolling enter the street before people driving start moving, along with providing more time to cross the street. 
  • We are lowering speed limits on major roads. 90% of major roads have a 25 MPH speed limit, and all residential streets have a 20 MPH speed limit. 
  • We are incorporating more readable street name signs with 6-inch lettering. 
  • We are installing new curb ramps across the city. 
  • Our new Seamless Seattle Pedestrian Wayfinding Maps show accessible walking routes and entrances, public restrooms and benches. 
  • We are adding benches, repairing sidewalks, improving tree pits and intersections, and adding lighting on major walking routes connecting three neighborhoods with high older adult populations (Chinatown-International District, Pioneer Square, and Pike Place Market) 

The RRFP program is possible thanks to more than 80 percent of Seattle voters who passed Proposition 1 last November, which funds more frequent, reliable, accessible bus service in Seattle and the ORCA Opportunity Program. Through a 0.15% sales tax (the equivalent of 15 cents on a $100 purchase), you are opening the doors to transit for more residents in the community! 

Thank you to everyone who joined the field trip!