King County Metro has taken a new step this week toward improving the Access paratransit service that we provide to qualifying riders who cannot ride fixed-route bus service.

After evaluating proposals submitted in response to our “Requests for Proposals” (RFP) for paratransit services, Metro has begun negotiations with MV Transit for a new five-year contract that is scheduled to go into effect this summer.

This comes as a result of a lengthy RFP process Metro used to ensure that Access service has a stronger focus on performance, accountability, equity and social justice, customer service and continuous improvement – and addresses King County Auditor recommendations and customer concerns.

Once negotiations are completed, King County will begin the transition from the current three-contractor model to a single-contractor model.

The new Access contract will improve service.

As noted in the amended RFP, we included a new focus on both pick-up and drop-off windows to provide an improved customer experience. We also included financial disincentives when service runs late, and when the trip takes much more time than comparable fixed route transit service.

Potential contractors were also asked in the RFP to be innovative and provide better outreach to non-English speaking customers.

Metro will be moving customer service in-house for Access as well, a move that increases accountability and connects Metro better with its customers.

Many of these changes were made in response to the feedback we got from customers, their caregivers and community organizations at multiple workgroup sessions that Metro held in the past year.

Each year the Access program helps transport more than one million passengers with disabilities. Metro is committed to ensuring a smooth transition that maintains quality Access service for our customers during this period.

We will share updates as they become available.