A Ride2 van in West Seattle (courtesy of King County Metro)

To help West Seattle residents and commuters cope with the upcoming closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the subsequent changes to the area’s bus routes, King County Metro is expanding its “Ride2” on-demand shuttle service to serve the Alaska Junction bus hub and the West Seattle Water Taxi terminal at Seacrest Park.

Ride2, which launched nearly two months ago in Eastgate, uses a smartphone app or a phone service to summon a shared van operated by a contractor like Chariot. The Eastgate pilot, which has been completely fare-free, has seen an average of 100 rides per weekday and 1,600 app downloads—a far cry from what such a service can do for an area with distributed demand that is harder to serve with traditional buses. 

Beginning Monday, December 17, Ride2 trips can be requested during peak periods (5 am to 9 am; 2:30 to 7 pm) to and from the Alaska Junction bus hub at California Avenue and Edmunds Street, as well as the King County Water Taxi terminal at Seacrest Park. Trips are not allowed to be pre-scheduled, with expected wait times of 10 to 15 minutes. A separate Ride2 app will be required for the West Seattle service. The service area covers most of peninsula’s north and eastern halves, from Alki and the Admiral District to High Point and Delridge. The Ride2 coverage area also include stretches of West Marginal Way on the Duwamish Waterway that are completely unserved by current bus routes, as well as large swaths of West Seattle that are between parallel routes.

West Seattle service area for Ride2 (King County Metro)

The West Seattle vans will be operated by Hopelink and cost the same as a normal Metro bus ride using a valid fare from a loaded ORCA card, ORCA Lift, a paper transfer, or cash. All trips must either originate or terminate at the Alaska Junction or Seacrest Park hubs, with the intent of serving as a last-mile connection to other transit options. The year-long West Seattle pilot will be funded by Metro and a $1 million contribution from the city’s Transportation Benefit District Fund.

In addition to the new Ride2 service, King County Metro is boosting water taxi and bus service to and from West Seattle. Beginning on January 14, the West Seattle Water Taxi will receive an additional vessel to bring 20-minute headways during the morning and afternoon rush hours (a total of 12 sailings). The water taxi will also run several mid-day sailings that will remain until March. Bus routes 773 and 775, which connect the water taxi to Alki and the West Seattle Junction, will also be boosted with new trips and run on 20-minute headways. A parking shuttle will also run between the Seacrest Park terminal and an off-site park-and-ride lot.

The RapidRide C Line and other bus routes currently using the viaduct to reach downtown will be redirected onto two interim surface pathways through SODO on 1st Avenue and 4th Avenue. Schedules will be adjusted to compensate for the longer travel times expected on these routes, which are in the ballpark of 50 to 100 percent longer in Metro’s models. Metro will deploy 20 buses on standby to make up for late or cancelled trips on certain routes during the three-week viaduct closure.

30 Replies to “Metro Expands Ride2 Shuttle Service to West Seattle”

  1. As much as I think Ride2 is going to be a money pit, leeching funds desperately needed for more traditional transit, West Seattle is probably the best place to really test out its effectiveness: significant population, but low density and terrible transit.

    1. West Seattle also happens to be the area most impacted by the closure of the Viaduct, both during the three weeks of maximum constraint and once the new highway no longer connects to the middle of the Central Business District, or Interbay and Ballard for that matter. The waterfront also has a long way to go before it becomes an arterial again.

      A lot of money was spent on local bus service in West Seattle when the West-Seattle-to-Ballard monorail was cancelled. The network serving low-density neighborhoods did not perform well.

      At least this is another $1 million not being spent to hide West Seattle Link underground and make Link to Burien billions of dollars more expensive.

  2. Thinking about the merits of the Ride2 vs. the 50. It looks like both will run at about the same frequency. But the 50 is going to be coming from a long route, including a slog through SODO that is likely to incur traffic delays. It is good to have a shuttle option in the West Seattle area whose reliability won’t be compromised by traffic snarls in other parts of the city.

    1. Ride2 doesn’t have a “frequency”. It is an on-demand service, with an expected wait time if you don’t book ahead of time.

      1. “trips can be requested during peak periods (5 am to 9 am; 2:30 to 7 pm) to and from the Alaska Junction bus hub at California Avenue and Edmunds Street, as well as the King County Water Taxi terminal at Seacrest Park. Trips are not allowed to be pre-scheduled, with expected wait times of 10 to 15 minutes”

      2. Right. But, you can also expect a wait time of 10-15 minutes with a regular old bus running at 20 minute frequency, which is exactly what the 50 does, during peak hours.

        Which means, it could be a coin flip which service comes first.

    2. If you are along the 50 route, the 50 is better than Ride2, unless you want to go to the Water Taxi, in which case the 50 is useless because it doesn’t go there. There are 2 water taxi van routes, but they are infrequent and only serve a few corridors. Ride2 opens up one-seat rides to the Water Taxi from a whole swath of West Seattle. I plan to test it out during the #JennyJam, since I have never before had a convenient way to get to the Water Taxi except driving there.

      It would be preferable if Route 128 could be extended down the California switchback with a turnaround in the Water Taxi parking lot. The 128 also serves lots of parts of West Seattle in a visible and predictable way. But Metro probably ruled it out for some sort of physics/geometry/real estate reason.

      1. Ideally, there would be a shuttle van sitting at Seacrest Park, wait for the arrival of each boat – in which case, the boat->bus transfer would entail zero waiting. Of course, the flip side – if there’s only one van, what happens if different people getting off the boat want to go in different directions? The answer becomes a lot of riding around in circles.

    3. Why is West Seattle getting this? There are plenty of routes available that serve parts of this area.

      Route 50 also is the only route in the Seward Park area — yet this service is not available there. Why is Metro playing favorites?

      By the way, Route 50 is only at 20 minutes a few hours a day. It’s at 30 minutes most of the day.

      1. I think the point is that unlike south Seattle, *all* modes of access from west Seattle to downtown will be snarled–to the tune of 50-100% longer travel times per Metro’s projection! Except the water taxi.

        Of course, your water taxi options on the Seattle side are: take an actual taxi (more likely the Uber/Lyft version) or a walk up the steep hill and a few blocks along 3rd to Link. Hmmm…. having a bus that stops *at* the water taxi/ferry docks on the Seattle side might really come in handy? (Note: the water front shuttle bus doesn’t start in the morning until 10 am).

  3. Like looking into the future. Once the van is electric and autonomous you’ve got the low operating costs needed to make the service ubiquitous.

    1. I agree. This type of service is the next generation of “DART” service, and will probably end up rolling out most everywhere in some form or another. This is the type of service that will allow baby boomers to age in place once they can no longer drive, a big problem the younger crowd doesn’t think of too often. High frequency bus and rail lines, with on-demand shuttles everywhere else to bring single-family home residents to the transit routes and neighborhood centers.

      1. I hope Community Transit is paying attention! The goal needs to be provide a 10-15 minute wait time option to get to Lynnwood Link. Whether it’s a frequent bus (e.g., Edmonds CC to Alderwood Mall corridor) or a “DART” like shuttle service. Even “a paltry 100 riders” is a lot of space in a park and ride lot, and at the going rate, it is several million dollars to build those parking stalls not to mention a wasteful use of transit adjacent land.

    2. Yes, slower-moving driverless shuttles from major hubs is a big part of the future of suburban transit. It’s just too expensive and ineffective to pay for drivers in buses that come so infrequently that no one wants to wait.

      Think of it as replacing park-and-ride lots.

    3. Once the van bus is electric and autonomous you’ve got the low operating costs needed to make the service ubiquitous. There, fixed it for you.

      OK, there probably will be some vans here and there, on low density corridors. But those that exist will run like buses do now (only more frequently). There is no reason to a have an unreliable, infrequent van, heading back and forth like an airport shuttle when you can have a van running every ten minutes on the minor corridors for far less. Yes, that means some people will have to walk a few blocks. It also means they will have to transfer (as these riders, by and large, will do). But the cost savings from sticking to the arterials are huge, and the time savings from running at a regular schedule makes them both cost effective and reliable.

  4. I have the greatest difficulty caring about a non-ADA-mandated fare-free service that only manages 100 rides per day. Until these vans are actually electric and driverless, we’d almost certainly serve more people with less fuel by putting the money into either the fixed-route network or the vanpool system.

    1. Ride2 is ADA accessible, and I think it’s going to be a lot more successful in WS than Eastgate, given the promotion it’s going to get as part of the ‘Squeeze’ media blitz.

      The fixed route network is never going to adequately serve vast swaths of the region, and inflexible vanpools are going to end up mostly folding into something like Ride2 in the long run.

      1. Note, I didn’t say the service was inaccessible. I said it wasn’t mandated by the ADA, unlike most paratransit.

    2. I agree Bruce, this just doesn’t seem like an effective use of money. If the goal is to connect people to the train or the ferry, then this doesn’t seem like a great improvement. Boosting the ferry schedule, as well as the 773 and 775 sounds great. That part I like, and it makes a lot of sense. But it seems like they could do better than this shuttle service, which will obviously be very inefficient. How about just sending the 128 to the dock? That seems like a very cheap improvement (it isn’t that far from where it currently ends). For that matter, I would move the 37, so that it goes there as well. Right now it ends at 35th, with the obvious implication that you can transfer to a different bus to get downtown. But if it turned on California, and went to the ferry dock, that would be your way to downtown (while providing better one seat rides within West Seattle). Even simpler would be to just boost the 50. It makes a decent connection to Link, but right now it only runs every half hour.

      In general I think the ferry running every 20 minutes represents a big sea change (ha! get it?). Moving from 35 minutes to 20 minutes is huge. But it could use better transit connections, since it doesn’t have much of a parking lot. Can you park at the boat launch for the day? It seems to me that there were a bigger parking area than the shuttle would become redundant (or at best a luxury) as folks could just park and take the ferry from there.

      1. Reminds me a lot of the Twin Trsnsit cutbacks in Lewis County. Fixed routes were cut back to favor more parstransit, and the costs skyrocketed because custom trips are so much more expensive than a fixed route bus even with only several people on it.

      2. Agreed. I might try this out for novelty but I think it’ll be a weird inefficient mess. How do they decide on routing, or how to prioritize incoming requests? Would they just go to the first person that requests a ride, and then start taking that person to the dock, stopping only for people roughly on the way? Or drive around picking people up till the van is full-ish, then go to the dock?

        BTW, yes, they will be expanding parking “near” the ferry dock, as in down at Salty’s and even further, at Pier 2. They’ll only open Don Armeni to King County vanshares for some reason (right now there’s only a handful of vanshares from West Seattle. One of them inexplicably shows its route as almost perfectly duplicating the C Line for Amazon workers but using I-5 instead of downtown surface streets, which seems like not at all the intention of that service.

        The 773 and 775 will probably get a lot more ridership, especially with doubled service. Right now they only serve people in the two big transit hubs (Alaska and Admiral Junctions) who have the much better option of a much faster, cheaper one-seat ride to downtown on buses. Without the viaduct, those bus rides will double in length, so the slow shuttle ride to water taxi transfer might start being worth it. Every commute option in West Seattle is about to get slow and unreliable, so might as well do the slow scenic route on the water instead of the slow industrial route stuck in traffic.

      3. Salty’s seems pretty reasonable. It is a fairly pleasant walk (more or less, although this time of year you can get hit with some nasty weather). Where is Pier 2? Is it past Jack Block Park? I’ve only walked around there once and it gets pretty industrial pretty quickly, although the park itself is a nice oasis (if memory serves).

        I agree about the 773/775. The combination of decent service on both those routes as well as the ferry is a game changer. It is not super speedy, but it pleasant for much of the ride, and good enough for the bulk of the riders. It isn’t that bad of a commute — it doesn’t take that long, and a lot more enjoyable than driving or riding a bus stuck in traffic.

        My guess is the 775 will drive ridership though. The folks along there don’t have much in the way of alternatives. The 37 is ridiculously infrequent, and only runs during rush hour. The 50 is not very fast, nor frequent, and still requires a transfer. But if you are close to the junction (or Avalon) the C (or even the 21) remains a solid option, even if it is butt slow. It is frustrating to sit on a bus as it slogs its way towards downtown, but you at least are on it. I don’t think anyone will let the C pass, while waiting for their 773 to carry them to the ferry. Now if they ran the 773 as often as the C, it would be different dynamic.

    1. Nvm I see they will in fact be boosting service on these routes. Should’ve read the whole thing before asking.

  5. All due respect, Bruce, but in view of what Seattle’s really looking at, I think posting space has something better to fill itself with than van service. Seattle is about to get hit with a major emergency, duration unknowable, for which its government has made no preparation at all. If I could afford the suits and haircuts to be liberalville’s first Alt Right mayor- would be licking my chops while the waiter runs for the mop.

    Not his only problem, but Greg Nickels largely lost his job over what was it, a week of bad snow clearance? So why does anybody think that the either the Mayor or any of the city council will soon have a job to be late for? And we’re talking about a State highway here. Are some former employees of mine about to become my jobless neighbors a mile from their former workplaces?

    No reason I can think of that we’re not already looking at a November 2016 re-run, taking down America’s most liberal city. Because now that everybody has a smartphone, we’re looking at History’s first political massacre voted from the motionless drivers’ seats whose thousands of occupants just lost their jobs over late reports.

    Substitute Jenny for Hillary, and watch our voters join the enemy out of pure justified spite. Selfies gleaming. So my view of STB’s first concentration is to take the lead in creating what Seattle should have started doing a year ago. Organizing some serious politics toward the transit lanes and other measures Seattle should’ve had planned and advertised when the “Constraint” first got coupled to the “Maximum.”

    And giving our every assist possible to the work. We can write. We can speak. And we ride enough transit to know what we’re talking about. Which should make us valuable to the new officials in some soon to be vacated offices. Who could also be some of us if we’re quick. For campaign finance, turn our own cars into jitneys and help the vans,

    Has. Been. Done.

    Mark Dublin

  6. So, the general theme here is that first/last mile transport in motor vehicles, pretty much however you do it, is going to be very expensive, least when people’s travel directions are scattered for that last mile, as opposed to everybody trying to go the same way all at once. Any kind of shuttle system, you’re going to have a lot of empty driving to get to a pick point to carry just 1, 2, or 3 riders at a time. Everybody driving their own car, you have to build massive parking facilities, which, besides being very expensive, wastes a ton of land, and creates an ugly blight upon the city.

    Fixed-route buses can be relatively cheap if they’re just an add-on to an existing route – but, fixed-routes that focus exclusively on short shuttle trips also tend to do poorly in cost per rider, as they spend a disproportionate amount of their service time sitting in layover, and are often unattractive to customers because, after wait time, the bus becomes not much faster than walking.

    Ultimately, the only general-purpose last-mile solutions I’ve seen with any reasonable, scalable cost per rider are walking, bikes, and scooters. Which gets into the whole probably about safe streets with safe bicycle facilities, and how the lack thereof is forcing riders onto much more expensive travel options.

    1. This really isn’t a big problem that requires riders to hop on a bike or scooter, nor build gigantic park and ride lots or have shuttle service. The big problem right now is that service to the ferry is horrible. This is understandable. Until recently, the fastest way, by far, to get from West Seattle to downtown was via the freeway. Even with the slowdowns, it was much faster. Now, apparently, that is about to change.

      As result, the ferry will run fairly frequently. Not the 15 minute frequency of the Staten Island or North Vancouver Ferry, but 20 minutes is still a huge improvement. It is now a reasonable way for the average commuter to get to downtown. But only if they can get to the ferry. As it stands, there are very few options to get to the ferry. Parking is limited, and bus service is marginal (even with this improvement). It wouldn’t be that hard or that expensive to change that. Just run the 128 there and run the 128 a lot more often. Extending the tail is a very minor change. Running the 128 a lot more often would cost money, but it would result in a very big change. It would connect much of West Seattle in a way that simply doesn’t exist now, with the added benefit of providing an easy, frequent connection to the ferry. It largely runs against the main traffic flow, which means commuters avoid the biggest mess. Those who live outside the line would simply drive to it. At various places along the line, all you have to do is park a couple blocks away. This sort of thing has been common for years for the 41, and it is really no big deal.

      If that proves too expensive, then just run a truncated version of it (from the Junction to the ferry). That would be very cheap and you could easily run both (as you do with various routes, like the 3 in Madrona). Neighbors might complain a little with folks a few blocks away parking in their neighborhood, but it is unlikely to be a problem, since the parking will be spread out. In the meantime, they would have much better service between the ferry and the junction.

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