New Ride Now program offers free and discounted rides to transit and other local trips for older adults (65+) and people with disabilities – learn more and find out if you qualify! – SDOT Blog – seattle.gov

Photo of senior Seattle residents from Lake City and South Park Senior Centers, who took a transit-oriented field trip in 2021 to help familiarize them with transit options in Seattle. Photo credit: SDOT

Please note: this blog post is available in additional languages via the links below, including Amharic, Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), Japanese, Korean, Oromo, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Tigrinya, Vietnamese.


Summary:

  • We are launching a new pilot program called Ride Now, to provide free and discounted rides to transit stations and other nearby destinations that can be difficult to reach by transit only – specifically for older adults (65+) and people with disabilities and their caregivers.
  • Eligible community members will receive $20 vouchers to use for rides from Yellow Cab, Uber, or Lyft.
  • Eligible riders can request up to 6 vouchers per month, which can be provided either as paper vouchers or digital promo codes.
  • The vouchers are for trips that start or end in Seattle, and riders can receive higher discounts off trips that connect to transit.
  • To request vouchers, please visit www.seattle.gov/transportation/RideNow or give us a call at (206) 684-ROAD [7623].
  • Vouchers will also be made available through select community-based non-profit organizations in Seattle. Please visit www.seattle.gov/transportation/RideNow for the latest information.
  • The Ride Now pilot program will be active during the months of April and May 2022. Ride vouchers will no longer be accepted after June 1, 2022.
  • We will provide an optional feedback survey to people who try the pilot program; this will help us decide whether and how to offer something similar in the future.

In 2020, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) received a grant from Transit Planning 4 All, a national program working to help communities develop and implement inclusive planning programs to improve local transit services and options.

The grant has allowed us to conduct an inclusive, compensated planning process and offer a mobility support pilot program for older adults and people with disabilities, as well as their caregivers.

This pilot program, known as Ride Now, is intended to provide free or discounted rides to transit and other nearby destinations that can be difficult to access by transit only. Program participants can request these rides when they want them, no reservations required, and have an accessible Yellow Cab, or Uber or Lyft, come right to their door.

The goal of the program is to provide more accessible, convenient, and affordable transportation options for these community members.

Sounds interesting. Who exactly is eligible to participate?

This program is designed to serve older adults, people with disabilities, and caregivers who travel with these individuals. Vouchers will work on trips that start or end within the city of Seattle, and riders can receive higher discounts off trips that connect to transit. More detailed guidance is available on www.seattle.gov/transportation/RideNow.

Eligible individuals include:

1) Older adults: Individuals aged 65 or older.

2) People with disabilities: Individuals with any type of disability that impacts their ability to access transit, including physical and cognitive disabilities.

3) Caregivers: Individuals who travel with the above eligible riders.

Seattle community members enjoy a sunny day in the Alki neighborhood of West Seattle (left) and a ride on the bus (right) during their transit field trips in 2021.
Seattle community members enjoy a sunny day in the Alki neighborhood of West Seattle (left) and a ride on the bus (right) during their transit field trips in 2021. Photo credit: SDOT
A woman using a power wheelchair waits to board a RapidRide C Line bus.
A woman using a power wheelchair waits to board a RapidRide C Line bus. Photo credit: SDOT

Got it. So how does the Ride Now program work?

Graphic showing the 4 steps to take a ride with the Ride Now program.
Graphic showing the 4 steps to take a ride with the Ride Now program. Graphic credit: SDOT

After you request and receive your ride vouchers, here’s how to use them:

Step 1: Book a ride

  • Book your ride with any of these available methods:
    • Phone: Book a Yellow Cab by calling (206) 622-6500.
    • Smartphone app: Book a Yellow Cab, Uber, or Lyft through their apps on your smartphone.
    • Computer: Book an Uber or Lyft through their websites on your computer or tablet.
  • You will receive information on when to expect your ride to arrive and can ask your driver for certain accommodations.

Step 2: Vehicle arrives in a timely manner

  • The Yellow Cab, Uber, or Lyft ride will arrive soon, typically within 10-30 minutes of being requested.
  • Yellow Cab provides wheelchair-accessible vehicles for riders who need them.
  • The Uber or Lyft vehicles are typically sedans (cars), unless otherwise specified.

Step 3: Drop off and pay

  • The driver will drop you off at your nearest transit station or other nearby destination.
  • Use your paper voucher or digital promo code to apply the discount to your ride.
    • The $20 ride discount is meant to make most trips under 3 miles free or deeply discounted.
    • Pay any remaining balance. For rides with Yellow Cab, this can be done with cash or a credit/debit card. Remaining balances on Lyft or Uber rides must be paid using the credit or debit card on file in the smartphone app.
  • Please remember to tip your driver!
    • For Yellow Cab: The remaining balance on a paper voucher can be used toward tips, or you may tip in cash.
    • For Lyft or Uber: Tipping drivers may be done in the smartphone app using the credit or debit card on file. Digital promo codes cannot be used for tipping on Uber or Lyft rides.

Step 4: Provide feedback (encouraged)

  • You will receive a short survey where you can provide feedback on your ride and input that will help shape future services.

Sounds simple enough! Are there any other accessible, affordable transit programs currently available in King County?

Yes. King County Metro also provides several accessible transit service programs, which include its overall accessible bus service and Access Transportation. Riders can also request Regional Reduced Fare Permit (RRFP) cards, which are discounted transit passes for seniors and people with disabilities.

Other “on demand” ride services in the area include:

  • Via to Transit, which serves communities in Othello, Rainier Beach, Skyway, Renton, and Tukwila, providing on-demand rides to and from key transit and community hubs, or point-to-point rides for Access-eligible riders.
  • Hyde Shuttles, which are free, neighborhood-based shuttles for older adults and people with disabilities.

For general transit information and resources to plan your next trip, please visit King County Metro’s online trip planner tool, Sound Transit’s website, or SDOT’s Transit Program website.


Who did SDOT work with to develop and launch the Ride Now pilot program?

A compensated, community-based steering committee: This committee includes 7 individual community stakeholders, all of whom are eligible riders under the program’s criteria and bring a wealth of knowledge regarding accessibility, mobility needs, language access best practices, and other community viewpoints that helped enhance our process.

Other groups we partnered with included:

  • Transit Planning 4 All: Transit Planning 4 All is a national transportation-planning program that seeks to explore and promote the practice of inclusive planning – and promote the development and dissemination of best practices in transportation planning inclusive of people with disabilities and older adults. Transit Planning 4 All provided grant funding to help make this pilot program possible.
  • Sound Generations – Lake City/Northgate Senior Center Project: The Lake City-Northgate Senior Center Project takes a ‘without walls’ approach, with a strong emphasis on equity and inclusion. Older adults of all backgrounds participate in programs and activities like Latin Dance, Mahjong, art classes, cultural celebrations, free/donation-based meals, and more. The center also provides social services through direct social work encounters, outreach, resources, and home visits to clients, as well as referrals to support older adults in Northeast Seattle with various needs.
  • King County Metro – Innovative Mobility Program: King County Metro’s Innovative Mobility Program is leveraging emerging mobility services and new technologies to give people more ways to get around in King County. Through strategic research initiatives and service pilots, Metro is exploring new approaches to transportation such as shared mobility, Mobility-as-a-Service, automated vehicles, and Smart Cities. Metro believes that the best innovations come out of partnerships among government agencies, communities, and the private sector.

In conclusion…

We hope eligible community members will participate in the Ride Now pilot program during April and May 2022.

Please visit www.seattle.gov/transportation/RideNow to learn more and request your vouchers today!

Photo of senior Seattle community members getting ready to ride the Link light rail train.
Photo of senior Seattle community members getting ready to ride the Link light rail train. Photo credit: SDOT

Recap of the Ride Now program purpose & benefits:

  • The Ride Now program is intended to provide quick, easy, and affordable access for older adults and people with disabilities and their caregivers.
  • The rides are aimed to increase mobility options and help people reach their nearest transit access point – be it a nearby Link light rail station or regional bus stop – or another short, local trip to a destination of interest that can help enhance daily quality of life for these community members.
  • This can be particularly useful when available transit options do not extend all the way to a person’s home or other nearby destination like a local park or family member’s house.
  • We hope this pilot program can help reduce barriers to accessing transit and help bridge the gap for seniors and people with disabilities or other mobility needs.

We look forward to continuing to serve older community members, people with disabilities or specific mobility access needs, their caregivers, and all Seattleites, to provide more accessible and affordable transportation options for everyone!

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