Given by King County Executive Dow Constantine, these annual honors are given to employees and teams at King County that demonstrate exceptional contributions to performance, leadership, service, and innovation.
“These awards recognize people who are helping build a best-run government at King County,” said Constantine.
Innovation Award for Equity and Social Justice
Metro received the Innovation Award for Equity and Social Justice for its work to design a Mobility Framework. Metro worked with an Equity Cabinet to develop the framework, which guides the agency’s pro-equity approach to mobility.
“Metro is receiving this award for their work to ensure that service and capital investments are targeted to the communities where the needs are the greatest,” said King County Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer Anita Whitfield. “Metro’s award for the Mobility Framework is a little different from some of the other award nominees. It’s not really for a project or a program. It is really for a way of thinking and doing and being. It embraces targeted universalism, an approach that recognizes the fact that not all people have the same opportunities to thrive, and then takes steps to intentionally address that fact.”
“If we are to truly realize the Executive’s True North vision of making King County a welcoming community where every member and every person can thrive, we have to recognize the essential role that mobility plays in the health, well-being, and prosperity of every King County resident, especially those who have been historically marginalized,” said Whitfield. “That is what the Mobility Framework does. At its core is a deep and abiding belief that mobility is a human right, and that the absence of it can have a profound impact on someone’s housing, employment, and every part of their potential to thrive.”
Metro project team members include Tessa McClellan, De’Sean Quinn, Mary Bourguignon, Tristan Cook, Brian Van Abbema, Gary Prince, and Carrie Lee.
Innovation Award for Sustainability
Metro’s Mobility Division received the Innovation Award for Sustainability for its development of Via to Transit. Via to Transit is an on-demand service, like Uber or Lift, that connects riders to and from transit hubs in southeast Seattle and Tukwila. People who live, work, or go to school within the service areas can request a ride by phone or the Via app.
“Public transportation plays an important role in reaching our Strategic Climate Action Plan (SCAP) goals to sharply reduce carbon emissions and lead with climate justice,” said King County Acting Director of Climate & Energy Initiatives Rachel Brombaugh. “Via to Transit is an exemplary model of a mobility partnership and the results of the partnership are already being shared nationally to inform best practices.”
Via To Transit is specifically targeted to neighborhoods with high percentages people with low incomes, people of color, people with limited English proficiency, and people with limited mobility options.
“The service prioritizes inclusivity by offering a call center for those without a smartphone or data plan; interpreter services; wheelchair-accessible vehicles; reduced fares for youth, seniors, low-income, and people with disabilities; and payment options for customers without a credit or debit card,” said Brombaugh. “Metro also translated marketing materials were into seven languages and conducted extensive outreach to ensure riders knew about the service.”
“In the first nine months of operation, Via to Transit exceeded its goals in number of trips per week, average wait times, and average trips per driver per hour,” said Brombaugh. “Twenty-two percent of riders were new users to the transit stations.”
Via to Transit was developed as a partnership between Metro, Sound Transit, the City of Seattle, and the Federal Transit Administration.
Metro project team members include Daniel Rowe, David Eldred, Jenifer Merkel, Ashley Dunn, Shelby Cramer, Torie Rynning, Pierce Canser, Jeremy Waldner, Brian Van Abbema, and Casey (Catherine) Gifford.
Watch the full remarks for the Innovation Award for Sustainability