On April 6, King County Metro implemented its second wave of service reductions. Overall ridership has decreased 72% as more people heed guidance to reserve transit for essential workers and for passengers seeking food and medicine. Although Access paratransit service also has seen a marked decrease in ridership, it maintains normal operations and continues its enhanced daily disinfecting procedures.

Metro is aware that temporary service reductions have a significant impact on our riders, including customers with disabilities. We’re pleased to announce that Access paratransit service is now a temporary option for customers with disabilities who can no longer reach their essential destinations through traditional service—even for customers who are not currently certified for Access.

How to ride Access

Customers with disabilities who are in need of transportation because of reduced traditional service can contact the Access Transportation Call Center at 206-205-5000 for assistance. Currently, customers with disabilities who have essential transportation needs do not need to be certified for Access Paratransit service.

Riders who will have an ongoing need for Access paratransit services beyond the service reduction time period will need to apply for Access service through the streamlined eligibility process.

Enhanced cleaning and operations protocols

Access has taken significant steps to protect our customers and drivers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • To promote social distancing, we’re scheduling no more than two passengers on a bus at one time and we’ve eliminated fare collection.
  • We’ve issued personal protection equipment to all drivers, including gloves, hand sanitizer, and face coverings.
  • We’ve installed vehicle disinfecting sites around the county. Staff with personal protective equipment disinfect the buses between trips and drivers frequently wash their hands.
  • All Access vehicles are disinfected again at the end of service each night.
  • Signs at all Access facilities encourage office staff to stay six feet apart, and most office staff are teleworking.

During this time, late cancellations without penalty are allowed. [Editor’s note: As of 8/1/2020, penalties will be reinstated for late cancellations.] If you need to cancel a scheduled trip, please reach out to Access as soon as possible. In accordance with Public Health – Seattle & King County guidance, we ask that all customers stay home and only travel if necessary.

Does Access transport passengers with COVID-19?

Through a separate service, King County Metro’s Access paratransit program retro-fitted specific vehicles within its fleet to transport disabled and low-income passengers who have COVID-19 symptoms or a positive diagnosis to needed medical care. Metro and MV Transportation worked in partnership with the King County Department of Community and Human Services and with Public Health – Seattle & King County to develop the initiative, engineer customized driver shields, and provide additional safety training and personal protective equipment to employees. King County Metro views the current crisis as a way to move further to a greater mission of providing Mobility for All. Passengers with COVID-19 symptoms or a positive diagnosis seeking rides should contact their health care provider to access this medical transport service.

Note: Patient transport service and regular Access paratransit service will use separate vehicles.

To reiterate, our patient transport service will use a portion of the vehicles that are usually dedicated to our Access service. These vehicles will not be shared between regular Access paratransit service and our patient transport service, nor does the regular Access service transport customers who disclose that they have confirmed COVID-19 test results. In the event that an Access customer with COVID-19 is unknowingly transported by Access, the current social distancing and cleaning protocols are designed to mitigate risk to drivers and other customers.

Additional Resources