King County Metro offers a pilot vanpool program for Kent residents who make $25 or less per hour. COURTESY PHOTO, King County Metro

King County Metro offers a pilot vanpool program for Kent residents who make $25 or less per hour. COURTESY PHOTO, King County Metro

Metro offers discounted vanpool program to Kent residents

Commuters must make $25 per hour or less qualify for reduced monthly rate of $49

King County Metro has a new vanpool program for Kent residents who make $25 or less per hour as part of a two-year pilot program to reduce commuter costs and increase transit options for entry-level workers.

The program, which began May 1, has a $49 monthly fare, which includes the van, gas, maintenance and insurance, which significantly reduces participant commuting costs, according to a Metro news release. The vanpool program allows for maximum flexibility for users and cuts down on traffic congestion by increasing ridesharing in the area.

How it works

• Commuters may start their own Metro vanpool with just three commuters – so neighbors, co-workers or family who have a similar starting point, destination and work schedule; or they may join one of more than a dozen other Metro vanpools already ridesharing to area employers.

• Commuters who work or live in Kent and make $25 or less per hour, pay just $49 out-of-pocket each month in fares, with Metro paying the difference for up to two years.

• Participants’ monthly fare covers it all. It includes the van, fuel, tolls, insurance, maintenance, 24-hour roadside assistance and a benefit that covers cab fare if the user needs to go home sick, pick up a sick child or in an emergency.

• Pilot vanpool groups may start with three or more commuters. The commuter group should include at least two volunteer drivers, along with someone to complete the group’s monthly reports.

• All volunteer drivers must be approved and vetted via Metro’s vanpool team, and all participants must complete a registration form, program application and meet other requirements.

• Commuters who don’t qualify for this pilot and live or work in King County may still start or join a Metro Vanpool for a low, monthly fare, saving money and benefiting from a shared ride.

• Kent commuters who already qualify for Metro reduced-fare transit cards and meet the pilot qualifications are eligible for additional vanpool benefits.

• Metro will connect with Kent-area employers and small businesses to share this and other new or existing commute options for employees.

This vanpool pilot was developed as part of the 2018 Renton Kent Auburn Mobility Project, which also brought Metro’s on-demand service Ride Pingo to Transit last year. Metro’s outreach to residents, employers, and community-based organizations indicated a high need for transit access to swing and night-shift work at distribution centers in the Kent Valley, according to the news release. Many jobs act as primary workforce entry-points for immigrant and refugee populations in the Kent East Hill neighborhoods.

Metro’s Mobility Framework— which helps the agency adapt to the changing transportation landscape in an equitable and sustainable way— identified certain core Kent neighborhoods as areas of opportunity because traditional bus routes and rail weren’t good solutions for workers there, coupled with a high need for affordable public transit. Vanpool affordability was a proposed solution to fill this gap.

For more information, visit kingcounty.gov/KentVanpool, call Metro vanpool at 206-625-4500 or email vanpool@kingcounty.gov.


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