Seattle’s King County Metro signed a contract with MV Transportation to provide Access paratransit services to customers for the next five years.
The contract incorporates feedback from customers, caregivers, stakeholders, and community organizations to ensure Access has a stronger focus on performance, accountability, equity and social justice, customer service, innovation, and continuous improvement.
Access provides about one million rides annually for qualifying riders who cannot take fixed-route bus service. Metro paratransit service provided under contract exceeds the federally required minimum standards.
Future benefits that will be implemented over time include better customer communications and multi-lingual access, improved technology for arranging trips and fare payment, and improved pick-up and drop-off windows.
The current Access contracts are being extended to Oct. 31 to ensure continued, uninterrupted service for customers and allow Metro to smoothly transition service under a single contract with MV Transportation, a change from the previous three-contractor model in place for over a decade.
Metro will be working for the rest of this year to develop the implementation plan for elements in the new contract.
Some of the highlights of the new contract include:
- Improved pick-up and drop-off windows to provide a better customer experience. The contract provides significant financial incentives to deliver quality service above established standards. Performance will be closely monitored, with disincentives should trips arrive very late, very early or are otherwise missed.
- Proactive outreach for historically underserved populations, including people with limited English proficiency, to provide improved multi-lingual access, including education about the program, assistance with applying to the program and scheduling trips.
- Integration of industry-leading technology, including a web-based customer interface for arranging trips and paying fares electronically. By using improved technology and data analysis, service will be more efficient and responsive.
- Ability to test and pilot more flexible scheduling options, including same day trips. MV Transportation has experience using non-dedicated services (taxis, for example) to maximize efficiencies.
- In-house Metro customer service, which will better connect Metro with its Access customers. This will also allow King County to provide independent tracking, investigation and accountability for the program.
- A retention plan was developed for current Access contract employees and drivers. About 600 employees operate paratransit service under Metro’s current contracts.
The $424 million five-year contract includes additional provisions for accountability and continuous improvement, giving King County the ability to establish higher standards of performance through the life of the contract. MV Transportation is also incentivized to reduce the cost per trip. The contract can be extended for an additional five years. Metro spent $60 million in 2018 on Access contract services.