A Via van at Mt. Baker Station.

Via at your service: A new way to connect with Link light rail

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Recognizing that walking or taking the bus to light rail may not be a convenient option for all riders, Sound Transit, King County Metro, and the City of Seattle kicked off a pilot project today that eliminates the apparent need to own a car to get there (or find parking nearby).

The pilot gives riders a new cheap, convenient option to take a fully-accessible ride share service for the cost of a bus ride that picks up riders at home and takes them to a nearby station, and vice versa—all paid for with the tap of your ORCA card.

Use the Via app to get a ride to/from Link light rail in Rainier Valley and Tukwila International Boulevard Station
Use your ORCA card to pay for your ride to/from the train. The ride is the same as bus fare - $2.75 for adults, less for youth, seniors or ORCA LIFT riders.

And the cost of that ride to the train is then transferred to your Link ticket. It’s the same as tapping on the bus and then on the train – you get an automatic transfer effectively covering the cost of your entire trip!

This Metro/Sound Transit/City of Seattle joint effort stars a mobility-on-demand company called Via.

Via will serve riders at five light rail stations in Southeast Seattle and Tukwila: Mount Baker, Columbia City, Othello, Rainier Beach and Tukwila International Boulevard.

A map showing the locations in the Rainier Valley where riders can hail a ride to a Link light rail station through a new partnership with Via.

 

A map showing the locations near Tukwila International Boulevard Station where riders can hail a ride to a Link light rail station through a new partnership with Via.

Think of the Via service as a transit shuttle with full wheelchair accessibility (when requested) that comes within 10-15 minutes of any request for a ride.

To get on board, you simply download the Via app (or call 206-258-7739) and request a ride. Via can carry up to six passengers.

Check here for more program details. 

Unlike other rideshare services, users can hail a ride through the Via app or through a phone call. The call center offers interpreter services for those with limited English proficiency or without access to the app or smart phone.

This is the unique segment of rides that transportation planners call, with some frustration, “First-mile/Last-mile.”

The yearlong pilot is funded by a grant from the Federal Transit Administration and $2.7 million from Seattle’s 2014 voter-approved Transportation Benefit District.

We look forward to watching how this new option for getting to/from Link stations opens new connections for all riders on their own schedules.

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