Kicking off service Thursday, Feb. 28, the new Kenmore-North Kirkland Community Van provides residents of Kenmore and the North Kirkland with a 24/7 reservation-based, group trip transportation option. The service is provided through a partnership between King County Metro and the cities of Kirkland and Kenmore. It is the third and final transit service to launch in response to community needs identified through Metro’s Community Connections program.
On Thursday, Feb. 28, the Kenmore-North Kirkland Community Van kicks off service. This two-year pilot project began taking reservation requests on Feb. 22, and is aimed at providing one-time and recurring transportation services to residents of Kenmore and the portion of Kirkland north of NE 116th St. and west of I-405.
The vehicles available for Community Van are provided by Metro and can accommodate a driver and either five or 11 passengers, depending on the size of the group. The smaller vehicle is ADA-accessible. Community Van trips require a minimum of two passengers and must originate in the city of Kenmore or north Kirkland (see map).
Community Van relies on volunteers to drive the van and is managed by a local Community Transportation Coordinator (CTC). The Kenmore-North Kirkland CTC is Armaghan Baghoori – a City of Kirkland employee. King County Metro reimburses the City for up to half of Baghoori’s salary for her work as the CTC.
“Community Van is a fun and innovative new way to share rides, and we are currently looking for more volunteer drivers to help build a robust and sustainable program that meets the needs of our community,” said Community Transportation Coordinator Armaghan Baghoori.
Volunteers interested in driving for Community Van should contact Baghoori, and then must pass through a two-part screening process. The screening is completed by King County Metro and the process takes approximately two weeks.
The project partners hope to build a network of volunteer drivers with varying levels of availability, to provide comprehensive, seven-day-a-week trip coverage. As trip requests funnel in to from both Kenmore and north Kirkland residents, Baghoori will match trips requests with available drivers. Each scheduled trip will be published on the Kenmore-North Kirkland Community Van page and open for other riders to join.
This person-to-person booking approach has been successfully implemented by Metro in partnership with other communities such as Bothell-Woodinville, Vashon, and Duvall, and most recently, Shoreline-Lake Forest Park.
Drivers ride for free, while passengers pay a Metro one-zone fare per round trip. Existing transit customers may use their ORCA cards to pay the fare, provided that the card is loaded with a monthly or annual pass. Riders without ORCA cards may pay the fare by downloading the Transit GO Ticket app, a mobile application which allows customers to purchase tickets using their smart phones.
“We are interested in hearing from our Kenmore and North Kirkland community members to learn more about how the van can accommodate their needs,” said Baghoori.
In 2014, two bus routes in Finn Hill and Kenmore ceased operation – Route 935 and Route 260. In 2016, Metro’s Community Connections program partnered with the cities of Kenmore and Kirkland to understand the impact of these route deletions and develop solutions to mitigate the impact.
A stakeholder working group and community surveys unveiled the following needs: access to neighborhood destinations and transit, especially to and from park-and-rides; solutions that are available when fixed-route transit is not, and solutions to improve congestion in the area, especially around schools.
Three service concepts were identified to address these needs: TripPool, SchoolPool and Community Van.
The first solution adopted as a result of Community Connections’ outreach efforts was TripPool, a two year pilot project that began in June 2017 to improve access to transit using Metro-provided vehicles and volunteer drivers. TripPool uses a real-time ridesharing app (iCarpool) to connect riders with approved volunteer drivers to take them from their home to Kingsgate and South Kirkland park-and-rides. There are currently two TripPools serving Kingsgate Park & Ride – one of these will switch to South Kirkland Park & Ride in the near future.
The second solution implemented was SchoolPool, also a two-year pilot, designed to reduce school congestion. SchoolPool is a free and secure ridematch program that connects parents of children attending the same school who want to carpool, bike or walk together. SchoolPool first started at Arrowhead Elementary in Kenmore in the fall of 2017. Finn Hill Middle School and Henry David Thoreau and Juanita elementary schools in Kirkland were added in 2018.
The new Community Van marks the culmination of solution rollout addressing two needs identified by the community – a service that is available when fixed-route service is not, and service that improves access to destinations in the neighborhood.
How to use Community Van
- Make a new trip request at least two business days in advance of your desired trip. Note that trip requests do not guarantee approval and are subject to driver availability and program policies. Riders wishing to join existing scheduled trips may join same day by contacting the CTC.
- Community Van is eligible for use 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Community Van has 12 passenger or 6 passenger vans available, depending on group size. ADA-equipped vans are available upon request.
- All monthly and annual ORCA passes are accepted along with mobile tickets via the Transit GO Drivers are unable to accept cash payment.