Metro’s new Access Paratransit operator, MV Transportation, brings a renewed customer service focus to the service, with offerings on the horizon including app-based scheduling, expanded multilingual support, higher on-time performance, and tighter pick-up and drop-off windows.
But first, when Metro’s new contract with MV begins October 26, operations will focus on creating a seamless transition for customers and helping them know the resources available to them, should they need extra assistance.
Access, Metro’s American Disabilities Act (ADA) paratransit program, is for people whose disabilities prevent them from using Metro’s fixed route bus service.
The improvements under the new partnership between Metro and MV Transportation were informed by a yearlong customer engagement process and an audit that raised important issues that Access has been working to address. It’s only fitting that the culmination of this work – the selection of industry-leading, innovative contractor MV Transportation – happens during Disability Awareness Month.
“I love the sense of independence Access gives me,” said Benjamin Brown, who rides Access regularly along with his guide dog, Jackpot, “I am able to have the same freedom as anybody who is able to jump in the car and go.”
“I have had a great experience with Access drivers in general – I’ve found them to be willing to listen, friendly, and respectful – but there’s always opportunity to be better. I’m looking forward to the coming improvements, such as new communications training for the drivers and the electronic reservation system, specifically.”
Preparations have been underway for the last several months to provide Access customers with a seamless transition in service starting October 26. They will be able to make reservations for rides and cancel trips the same way they do now, with no interruption.
The vehicles will remain the same; the fares will remain the same. Even a majority of the faces will remain the same. Currently, 85% of Access’ existing drivers, operations agents, dispatchers and reservation agents have been hired by MV Transportation under the new contract and that figure is expected to grow.
By early November, customers will notice drivers wearing new uniforms with MV Transportation’s logo. Once the new service has transitioned smoothly, Metro and MV will work together to implement other improvements such as:
- Expanded multi-lingual access to customer service for trip arrangements;
- Improved operator training for communicating with riders;
- Tighter pick-up and drop-off windows;
- The ability to arrange trips and pay fares electronically; and
- Increased proactive outreach to historically underserved populations, including people with limited English proficiency.
Metro is proud that our new partnership with MV Transportation directly incorporates feedback from customers, caregivers, stakeholders, and community organizations to ensure that Access has a stronger focus on performance, accountability, equity and social justice, and customer service.
For Access Riders
The phone number for Access, 206-205-5000 (WA Relay: 711) or 1-866-205-5001 (WA Relay: 1-800-833-6384), will stay the same and so will operating hours for reservations, cancellations, and real-time rider services: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.
Eligibility services and transit instruction will remain the same, too, and will continue to be provided during Metro’s existing hours.
For non-urgent customer feedback, customers will use the same Access phone number, but now the feedback will be directed to Metro’s Customer Service department. Previously, non-urgent customer feedback was addressed by the Access contractor. We are excited to receive Access comments through Metro Customer Service, as the more direct interaction will help us more efficiently track trends and identify areas of opportunity and improvement.
About King County Metro’s Access Paratransit Service
King County Metro’s Access Paratransit Service provided 10,000 miles of rides for over 14,000 registered riders in 2018. Metro’s Access Program provides next-day shared rides for persons whose disabilities prevents them from performing the tasks needed to ride regular public transit services. Metro is committed to providing equal access to all its services. Learn more at Metro.KingCounty.gov