February 28, 2023 (SEATTLE) — King County Executive Dow Constantine and Metro Transit announced the launch of Metro Flex — a new on-demand neighborhood transit service uniting three current services: Community Ride, Ride Pingo to Transit, and Via to Transit.
Customers anywhere within the service areas can download the app and schedule flexible, reliable transportation, all for the same cost as a Metro bus trip. Via, the global leader in TransitTech, was chosen to power the new Metro Flex service, following nearly four successful years powering King County Metro’s Via to Transit on-demand service.
“Metro Flex transforms and merges three popular and proven on-demand services so riders will be able to travel more seamlessly around their neighborhoods and across the region,” said Executive Constantine. “Ensuring access to easy and equitable transit options is essential to helping people stay connected to their community every day, and Metro Flex is the latest way for everyone to get around King County.”
In 2019, King County Metro created and designed on-demand services to provide safe, reliable transportation for people and places that aren’t near frequently run bus or rail service to ensure more connections across neighborhoods and the region. Since then, on-demand services have resoundingly woven themselves into the mobility choices of the communities they serve, helping customers get to appointments, school, stores, and work, as well as transfer to and from buses and light rail.
Currently, Metro’s on-demand services:
- Provide nearly 6,200 rides a week
- Deliver an average travel time of 7.5 minutes
- Advance equity – more than 32 percent of Metro’s on-demand rides are taken by customers enrolled in reduced-fare programs
Using Metro Flex
Starting March 6, riders can use the new Metro Flex app to book rides to and from anywhere in one of the service areas, which include Juanita, Kent, Othello, Rainier Beach, Renton Highlands, Sammamish, Skyway, and Tukwila.
After downloading the new Metro Flex app from the app store on their phone, existing and new on-demand riders choose their desired destination. They’ll receive a nearby pick-up location to meet their driver and may share the ride with other passengers. Riders with mobility needs—such as using a wheelchair—can save this information within their Metro Flex profile.
As with other Metro services, reduced fares are available for customers with disabilities, customers with lower incomes, and seniors. People on certain government programs and all youth 18 and younger ride free. Using an ORCA card allows all passengers to transfer for free to bus and rail. Riders can also pay with credit or debit cards, but not with cash. Drivers will not accept tips.
“We’re thrilled that our long-standing partner, King County Metro, has chosen Via’s TransitTech solutions as the driver for a new future of fully-connected, on-demand public transit. Together with KCM, we’ll introduce a next frontier of equitable mobility with Metro Flex — making it easier for the community to access more of the Seattle area than ever before.” – Krista Glotzbach, Via, Head of Western US Partnerships
“It’s critical we move riders where they need to get to, when they need to travel. Metro Flex will help us deliver for those asking for more transportation options. Metro’s popular on-demand services have proven their value over the past several years, and we are delighted to bring them together under one program. We think our on-demand services will now be even better and more convenient, and we urge riders to download the Metro Flex app.” – Michelle Allison, General Manager, King County Metro
For more information, please visit kingcounty.gov/MetroFlex
Founded in 2012, Via pioneered the TransitTech category by using new technologies to develop public mobility systems — optimizing networks of buses, shuttles, wheelchair accessible vehicles, school buses, autonomous vehicles, and electric vehicles around the globe. Building the world’s most efficient, equitable, and sustainable transportation network for all riders — including those with limited mobility, those without smartphones, and unbanked populations — Via works with its partners to lower the costs of public transit while providing transportation options that rival the convenience of a personal car while reducing the environmental impact. At the intersection of transportation and technology, Via is a visionary market leader that combines software innovation with sophisticated service design and operational expertise to fundamentally improve the way the world moves, providing technology in 600 communities and more than 35 countries and counting.
Sara-Jessica Dilks, Public Relations at Via