LYNNWOOD — Snohomish County’s first foray into ride-hailing transit begins Thursday.
After a ceremony Wednesday at the Lynnwood Convention Center, Community Transit was set to launch its one-year pilot service, called Zip, at 5 a.m. Thursday. It’ll run every day until 10 p.m.
Its service area spans the Alderwood mall, Lynnwood Transit Center and Swamp Creek Park and Ride, generally bound by Highway 525 and I-5 to the east, 164th Street SW to the north, 204th Street SW to the south and Highway 99 to the west.
Community Transit CEO Ric Ilgenfritz said transit agencies generally have assumed people come to them at bus stops, park and ride lots and train stations.
“The shift here is we are using a service to go get them,” Ilgenfritz said.
Anyone can use the app, Goin — Rides for All, or call 425-521-5600 to request a ride within that area.
Riders pay the same fare they would to board any other Community Transit vehicle: $2.50 or $1.25. They can pay with cash, credit and debit card or with an ORCA transit card. That also means it’s free for anyone 18 years old and younger, a move spurred by the Legislature’s Move Ahead Washington transportation package approved this year.
“We definitely expect more youth,” Community Transit community transportation specialist Kevin Futhey said.
There’s no dynamic pricing in Zip, unlike some private ride-hailing companies. The cost is the same to travel from the northern to the southern ends as it would from one side of Alderwood mall to the other, and no matter the time of day or how many people request a ride.
Early development of the program began in 2019 with a work group that included business leaders, city officials, riders and social service providers in the Lynnwood area. The goal was to figure out how to help people get around and better connect with existing transit service.
That could benefit the YWCA’s clients, many of whom often lack transportation of their own, said Kresha Green, regional director for housing service.
Community Transit contracted with MedStar Transportation, a private operator, to run the project for just over $1 million. That money is coming from a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) grant that U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen supported.
Transit, and programs like Zip, can help remove barriers to jobs and opportunities, Larsen said.
At least four vehicles are available for the service, one sedan and three seven-passenger vans. They have blue, green and white paint in Community Transit’s color scheme, along with the program’s site ctzip.org, phone number and fares.
“They’re really easy to spot, so you’ll see them zipping through the community,” Mukilteo Mayor and Community Transit board chairman Joe Marine said.
One of the vans can load a wheelchair via a ramp from the tailgate. Riders who need the wheelchair van can select that option when they use the app or notify the dispatcher if they call.
People with a bicycle can also check that option, and one of the sedans with a rear rack can pick them up, Ilgenfritz said.
Drivers and passengers can call each other through the app or use the dispatch line.
At the end of a trip, riders who use the app get a request to rate the service. Community Transit is eager for that input and to learn why people use Zip. That data will shape the future of the program, and maybe others like it elsewhere.
Community Transit is in the early stages of evaluating on-demand and other microtransit services in Arlington, Darrington and Lake Stevens.
“This is just the beginning,” Marine said.
Ben Watanabe: 425-339-3037; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @benwatanabe.
This story has been modified to correct the style of vehicles available for Zip. There are one sedan and three vans.
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