Street Smarts columnist Ben Watanabe steps into the new Zip Alderwood Shuttle on Sunday in Lynnwood. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Street Smarts columnist Ben Watanabe steps into the new Zip Alderwood Shuttle on Sunday in Lynnwood. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Zip trip made Alderwood travel convenient, quick

Instead of figuring out a bus route and schedule, Zip lets riders go door-to-door in the Lynnwood entertainment hub.

I took a rip on the Zip.

Community Transit is using $1 million of federal grant money to test ride-hailing, called Zip, for a year in the Alderwood area of Lynnwood. The service started Thursday and is available from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.

Zip works like other ride-hailing companies, its primary difference being a defined service area that includes the Alderwood mall, two Costco locations, Lynnwood Transit Center and Swamp Creek Park and Ride. The zone generally is 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.

I tried it Sunday with a lunchtime trip to Asian food megastore H Mart in mind. I used the app, Goin — Rides for All, but other riders can call 425-521-5600 to book the ride.

The app asks users to make an account, but it doesn’t require any financial information because riders can pay with cash, credit and debit cards, or an ORCA transit card.

When booking a trip, the app asks to confirm your transit rider category and how many riders are part of that request.

If there were other users nearby asking for a trip in a similar direction, we could have shared the van.

Street Smarts columnist Ben Watanabe uses the Goin — Rides for All app to request a Community Transit Zip shuttle Sunday in Lynnwood. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Street Smarts columnist Ben Watanabe uses the Goin — Rides for All app to request a Community Transit Zip shuttle Sunday in Lynnwood. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

But it’s still a new service so I had my pick of seats in the new Chrysler Voyager that private company MedStar Transportation operates on a contract with Community Transit for Zip.

The driver made his way from the Lynnwood Park and Ride, the southern end of the Zip zone, in about 12 minutes. Herald photographer Olivia Vanni and I chatted while we waited and that time passed quickly.

Rides, just like using a Community Transit bus, cost the same to board whether you go one block or from end to end. Fare costs $2.50 for adults, $1.25 with an ORCA Lift or reduced fare card, and is free for children 18 and younger.

My 4-mile trip cost me $5 and about 15 minutes. There’s no option to tip the drivers, though at the end of the ride the app asks to rate them and provide feedback on the trip.

I don’t have children, but it made me think how my family could have used something like this when I was a child during Alderwood outings. Instead of firing up the station wagon, maybe we call for the Alderwood shuttle to get from the mall to the Regal movie theater, Guitar Center or other nearby attractions.

It also made me miss when my partner lived in the service area. Instead of driving to get Thai takeout or make a Costco run, we could have tapped for a Zip trip there and back.

I didn’t love paying $5 to get a 2-mile ride each way. But it was about 1/4 the cost of another popular ride-hailing app’s estimated cost for that trip, and was convenient to use.

A Zip Alderwood shuttle driver pulls into the Swamp Creek Park and Ride on Sunday in Lynnwood. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

A Zip Alderwood shuttle driver pulls into the Swamp Creek Park and Ride on Sunday in Lynnwood. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Instead of having to navigate the bus route system in the area to determine if I could get from one point to another, it was almost mindless to know that as long as I’m in the Zip zone, it didn’t matter.

Community Transit is in the early stages of considering other microtransit services for Arlington, Darrington and Lake Stevens. Data and feedback from the Alderwood shuttle, along with local input, will shape those in the months ahead.

If you’re going to the Alderwood area and thinking of multiple stops, say around the holiday shopping season when parking gets tight, consider a Zip trip and giving your thoughts to Community Transit by calling 425-521-5600 or www.communitytransit.org/about/customer-comments.

Have a question? Call 425-339-3037 or email streetsmarts@heraldnet.com. Please include your first and last name and city of residence.

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