Last week, we reported on the under-performing Ride2 services in West Seattle and Eastgate which have experienced low ridership and outsized costs per rider. Yesterday, Metro announced they were ending both pilots effective December 20. (The news was first reported by West Seattle Blog).
The Ride2 services were created as one year pilots, and the end comes as the West Seattle version reaches that milestone. Eastgate, which experienced a change of provider from Ford subsidiary Chariot to Hopelink in February, ran for 14 months.
There were some interesting new details on how the services performed from Metro. Over seven thousand users had downloaded the phone app, though fewer than 15% had used the service within the last month as customer interest failed to develop.
Average ridership in West Seattle was just 29 per day, despite serving an area with 53 thousand residents and 12 thousand jobs. That low ridership drove an extraordinarily high cost of $84 per trip. Eastgate did a little better with 82 daily riders and a $35 cost per rider on a similar sized footprint. The West Seattle service was funded through the Seattle TBD and the Eastgate service by Metro. Metro characterized the Eastgate results as within expectations, but it needed other funding to continue.
Metro will continue the Via service which has been far more popular and cost-effective, serving nearly 1,000 daily riders. The Rainier Beach service has been particularly busy. Metro believes part of Via’s success is that it connects to very frequent transit service like light rail and very frequent buses making transfers easier. Eastgate bus service is more sparse off-peak and parking remains available until late in the AM peak. The frequency of the water taxi in West Seattle is yet more limited with 30 minute service in summer and less in winter.
Via has operational advantages over Ride2 because it serves several connected areas including five rail stations in Seattle and Tukwila. That model scales more efficiently than the Ride2 shuttles serving isolated islands because Via vehicles can cross between service areas. It’ll be interesting to see if they also succeed as a feeder to other rail stations or frequent bus routes in future.