Michelle Baruchman in The Seattle Times, on Metro’s new 5-year contract with MV Transportation to provide Access service:
Advocates in King County say they have raised concerns about Access for more than a decade, but it wasn’t until 2015 that the county began planning for an audit of the service, said Deputy King County Auditor Ben Thompson.
In June 2017, the county Auditor’s Office released a report that laid bare issues that contributed to low ridership and costly services.
Among them: limited payment options; lack of outreach to low-income populations, communities of color and people with limited English proficiency; inadequate oversight over contractors and ineffective punishments for poor service; excessively long trips and frequently late or early arrivals.
Paratransit service is mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Like many federal mandates, it comes without much funding, making it susceptible to budget cuts when downturns hit. Furthermore, King County ordinances mandate that the service go above and beyond the ADA minimum.
My understanding is that, at the low point, there were just a half-dozen Metro employees overseeing what was one of the largest contracts in King County, down from more than triple that before the financial crisis.
This new contract will take some of the customer service aspects back in-house, meaning Metro should be more responsive to problems.