- Contact the county council. See sample messaging, at bottom
If you are one of the 34,000 people in King County with a developmental disability, Metro Access can be lifeline.
But a recent audit of Metro Access flagged a number of troubling issues that were also called out by users in a customer feedback survey, mainly excessive trip length, unreliability in pickups, and arrivals that are too late or too early.
On a personal level, unreliable service can leave users stranded. This is always unsafe and particularly troublesome given the vulnerable population that Access serves.
Some of problems are driven by the way the county contracts out Metro Access, and advocates are worried that the county's new request for proposals (RFP) falls short. This means key safety issues could go unaddressed for years.
Hit pause, set up review board
Advocates are asking council members to stop the RFP process underway and revise it to prioritize rider safety and compliance with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). They are also asking for an independent review board for Metro Access.
They say the RFP underway :
- Fails to track key performance indicators to ensure ADA compliance
- Sets performance standards below federal guidelines
- Fails to use protocols that would reduce unnecessary costs
- Incentivizes long trips, raising costs and diverting funds that could be used to expand service elsewhere
After reviewing the audit and feedback from 800 users, some members of a community advisory group formed by Metro Access flagged the following:
- The request for proposal goal appears to be contractor consolidation, not rider satisfaction or safety. For instance, nowhere do the RFP goals cite the need for improved scheduling and on-time performance
- Excessive trip lengths are out of ADA compliance, and reporting trip length will NOT be a key performance indicator
- On-time performance is out of compliance with Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) standards. Vulnerable populations use Access and while there is a penalty for low on-time performance, given the rider population the bar has been set too low; it puts 6,750 riders at risk, each month.
- The scheduling system is ineffective and leaves vulnerable people stranded
- The cost-plus payment system creates an incentive for inefficient service.
- There is inadequate investigation of complaints and inadequate oversight of contractors. Problems with oversight were also flagged in a 2009 audit, showing precedent for failing to fix underlying structural problems
Because of this, advocates are calling for an independent Metro Access review board that includes consumers with disabilities, family members, a consultant with extensive knowledge of other para transit systems, a representative with background in ADA compliance, and Metro management.
We encourage users of Metro Access and other transit advocates to contact the King County Council and ask for changes that address underlying structural issues. When Access fails to deliver, people are left isolated and excluded from community life.
Send an email!INSTRUCTIONS: Please edit the message to reflect your position. A personal story will make it stronger. Emails should be sent to: Council member Rod Dembowski, Chair, King County Transportation Committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may also want to send an email to your council representative. You can find your King County district here: http://www.kingcounty.gov/council/councilmembers/find_district.aspx
----- Sample messaging -------Dear Council member Dembowski,
Lives depend on Metro Access, and ongoing structural problems with service must be addressed.
If you are unable to drive in King County, you can quickly become isolated and cut off. Metro Access is a lifeline to the 34,000 people with developmental disabilities in King County. It helps all people live, work and play in the community.
But when service is undependable, people who rely on it can lose their job or miss important appointments. They can be left in unsafe situations, or exposed to bad weather.
Metro Access serves a vulnerable population with few transit options. It needs to set a high bar and it must be ADA compliant.
- Please pause the Request for Proposals process and address structural changes needed to ensure rider safety and compliance with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Please establish an independent Metro Access review board that includes consumers with disabilities, family members, a consultant with extensive knowledge of other para transit systems, a representative with background in ADA compliance, and Metro management.