A new audit finds that King County needs to improve its transit service for people with disabilities. The review found Metro Access was unreliable and expensive.
“Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate Access, having this service, but it’s got to be fine-tuned,” said Harriett Williams, one of about eight thousand people who use Metro Access. Many of them say they have to wait too long for their rides.
A King County audit of Metro Access criticizes the transit agency for its on-time performance and costs. Sometimes, the mini-buses run with just one person on board, or even none, while they shuttle around to the next ride, the audit found.
About half of the respondents of a survey say they're dissatisfied with how long it takes to travel on Access. Those trips can take longer than they would on a bus or light rail.
The audit also scolds Metro Access for doing little to promote the program to people who don't speak English.
“My son has been left out in the cold and dark for two or more hours waiting for his ride,” said Rose Yu, whose 22-year-old son Asher Brown has developmental disabilities.
“The service is not provided at the quality level that one would expect, and especially given how much we taxpayers pay for the service,” she said.
King County Metro says it is doing several things to fix these problems. The county is buying smaller buses to improve flexibility and performance, they're about to offer new online ride scheduling, and next year there will be a new contract for the operator of Metro Access, with incentives for cost-effective service. The county says it agrees with the recommendations of the audit and is making changes.
Read more about how the county is responding here.