King County Metro’s Community Van has temporarily expanded to a four-van fleet and has partnered with Metro transit operators to fulfill more essential trips on Vashon-Maury Island. The island’s bus service is currently not operating as Metro has reduced bus service throughout King County in response to COVID-19.
Residents of Vashon-Maury Island now have expanded access to Community Van for essential trips on the Island. There are now four vans available for service; two 12-passenger vans that will be operated by Metro bus drivers to accommodate more on-island weekday pre-planned trip requests, and two six-passenger vans for riders who have mobility needs and that will take riders off-island. Social distancing prevents full use of the 12-passenger capacity; see below for details.
Metro routes 118 and 119 on Vashon-Maury Island were suspended in March as part of the countywide reduction in bus service during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Community Van program, which has been available on the island for three years, was developed to provide alternative travel options and help fill community transportation gaps. The service has seen an increase in use since the suspension of on-island bus service.
As of June 1, residents can book essential island trips in advance via phone or email as usual, but will have one additional van operated by Metro bus drivers living on Vashon-Maury Island. While the van program operates 24/7 depending on volunteer driver availability, these additional Metro transit operators will be providing on-island-only service for morning, mid-day and evening trips, including options for one-time and recurring early-morning or evening rideshares to and from the ferry dock. The program will continue to fulfill other essential trips with community volunteer drivers as well.
Riders may use the vans only for essential trips: traveling to work, grocery shopping/meals, accessing necessities, transport to non-COVID-19 medical appointments, and connecting to ferry or water taxi.
To ensure social distancing, vans will carry a maximum of two passengers per trip for the larger vans and maximum of one passenger per trip for the minivans, or two people from the same household. Current essential trip requirements that apply to Metro vehicles will be observed as part of the Community Van program. Metro and volunteer community drivers will be following COVID-19 health and safety recommendations by wearing masks and gloves and cleaning and sanitizing vans after each trip. Riders also are directed to wear masks or face coverings.
The Vashon-Maury Island Community Van is a reservation-based service, available 24 hours a day, seven days per week. Riders with off-island trip needs and those requiring an accessible vehicle are invited to request additional accommodation at the time of their reservation request. Accessible 6-passenger vans and a 12-passenger van are available for these trips.
To find out how to schedule a trip, contact Megan Lockhart by phone at 206-773-7003 or by email at VashonVan@kingcounty.gov. You may also visit the Vashon Community Van website at kingcounty.gov/VashonVan for a current trip schedule or submit a trip request form. Calls, emails and trip requests will be responded to within 24-48 hours, or next business day if received on weekends or holidays.
Q: How many vans will be in use?
A: A total of four vans will be available:
- Two 12-passenger vans driven by Metro bus drivers responsible for on-island trips
- Two six-passenger vans driven by community volunteers, approved by Metro to drive as part of the Community Van Program. Those drivers will take passengers who have mobility needs and riders going off-island. Capacity per vehicle is significantly reduced in order to maintain social distancing requirements.
Q: Is there a set schedule for the trips?
A: Community Vans are available 24-hours a day, 7-days a week pending an available driver. Under the proposed schedule, the Metro drivers who will operate the 12-passenger vans will be available to fill trip requests during set weekday and evening hours, however reservations/advanced planning is still required.
Q: How do you reserve a trip?
A: To reserve a ride, please call Megan Lockhart at 206-773-7003, email Megan at VashonVan@kingcounty.gov, or visit our webpage at kingcounty.gov/VashonVan to set up your ride.
Q: How far in advance do you need to reserve a trip?
A: Reservations should be made 24-48 hours in advance. With the addition of Metro drivers, weekday trip requests may be fulfilled on shorter notice. Advance pre-planning for single trips or recurring trips is advised.
Q: Can I schedule regular trips?
A: Yes. Riders with regular needs such as drop off and pick up at the ferry terminals, appointments or weekly grocery shopping are highly encouraged to schedule recurring trips in advance. Those who have regularly scheduled essential trips can set up pick up and drop off times that meet their needs. There is no penalty for cancelling if your plans change!
Q: Do I need to wear a mask or face covering to ride in the van?
A: Public Health has issued a directive requiring everyone in King County to wear a mask or face covering to help prevent the spread of coronavirus with limited exceptions. Drivers are required to wear a mask when operating a Community Van vehicle. Read more about the advisory and other Metro-related coronavirus updates on the Metro Matters blog. You will still be allowed into the van if you are not wearing a mask or face covering.
Q: Is there a cost to ride the Community Van service?
A: Currently, Metro is not collecting fares in order to reduce interaction between passengers and operators. During normal operations, Community Van fares are the same as a bus fare.
Q: How is the program being paid for (who is paying the transit drivers)?
A: All Metro routes on reduced schedules or temporary suspension are intended to resume at a future date yet to be determined. Affected drivers have remained on payroll and are filling in to support the residents of Vashon during these unprecedented times.
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