King County Metro, Sound Transit and the city of Seattle launched a new on-demand shuttle service on April 16: Via to Transit. Customers will be able to hail a ride by phone or through the Via app to five Sound Transit Link light-rail stations and pay using their ORCA card. Once at the station, riders can take the train or one of the buses that connect to the stations.
"We are making it more convenient than ever to hop on board our high-capacity regional transit system," said King County Executive Dow Constantine. "The on-demand service we are bringing to southeast Seattle and Tukwila reflects our commitment to outstanding customer service, making it easy to take transit to work, school, or play and back home again."
Redmond Mayor and Sound Transit Board Chair John Marchione added, "This project is a boon to Sound Transit's mission: Connecting more people to more places. The innovative partnership with Via looks to a future where on-demand services work seamlessly with mass transit and builds ridership."
The five Link light-rail stations where Via to Transit will offer service to and from are Mount Baker, Columbia City, Othello, Rainier Beach and Tukwila International Boulevard.
Via to Transit costs the same as a Metro bus trip. Passengers can tap their ORCA card upon boarding Via to Transit and will automatically transfer fares between Via to Transit and buses or Link light rail.
"As we continue to build a city of the future, we are providing new ways for our neighbors to access transit. Reliable, affordable transit creates pathways to jobs, training, school, and opportunity, and we will continue to provide more choices for Seattle residents," said Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan. "Thanks to the City's investment and strong partnerships, this new first-last mile connection will help ensure that South Seattle residents have more options for safely and quickly getting to key transit hubs as we continue navigating the Seattle Squeeze."
The yearlong pilot project is partly funded by $2.7 million from the voter-approved Seattle Transportation Benefit District. Sound Transit also successfully applied for a Mobility on Demand Sandbox grant from the Federal Transit Administration to test the effectiveness of providing on-demand ride-share connections to transit stations.
“Via’s technology is redefining mobility across the globe, and we are thrilled to partner with King County Metro, an innovation-forward agency, to provide residents with a convenient, affordable, and congestion-reducing dynamic transportation alternative,” said Daniel Ramot, Co-founder and CEO of Via. “Via’s powerful passenger matching and vehicle routing algorithm is the solution to solving the first-and-last mile challenge, seamlessly integrating into the existing public transit infrastructure to connect residents to transit hubs in their communities.”