Paratransit customers will experience better service from Access service vendors under the future contract, thanks to significant changes Metro released last week.

Formally the changes are in an addendum to an existing “Request for Proposals,” which is how Metro is seeking a contractor to provide the service. The updated language and requirements are the result of 13 workgroup sessions with customers, community members and community organizations spanning several months.

By meeting, listening and making changes, the community helped Metro ensure that our RFP fully addressed King County Auditor recommendations and community concerns. We anticipate getting proposals in August for the next five-year contract, and a new contract is scheduled to go into effect in summer 2019.

We are pleased that the amended RFP has a stronger focus on performance, accountability, equity and social justice, customer service, continuous improvement. We’ve included a new focus on both pick-up and drop-off windows to avoid having riders spend more of their day traveling than they prefer. We include financial disincentives when service runs late, and when the trip takes much more time than comparable fixed route transit service.

Stronger Performance

How will this work? Proposers are asked to provide cost estimates for three tiers of performance standards for example being on-time 92 percent, 95 percent and 96 percent of the time. Metro’s new disincentives for lateness are clear. The current contracts require a 90 percent on-time standard, but few disincentives apply. The new contract would have stronger protections against late operations. An example would have the contractor subject to disincentives of $35 per trip that operates 30-60 minutes late, and $100 (twice the current rate) for each trip that is an hour late or completely missed. Additional monthly disincentives also could accrue if system-wide trips operate below the 92-96 percent thresholds.

Metro is committed to continuously improving and creating new programs.  For example, Metro is launching a pilot project for same day service in late 2018. And in the new contract we are calling on potential contractors to be innovative, to improve customer service and outreach to non-English speaking customers. Metro also will be moving customer service in-house for Access paratransit, a move that increases accountability and connects Metro better with its customers.

We will share updates as they become available. The customer engagement process took longer than planned, but the outcomes are so much stronger for our Access customers and we appreciate your patience.