Audit slams King County’s Access transit for disabled riders

At a cost of $60 a trip, King County Metro’s Access transit for disabled riders is expensive and is losing riders, an audit finds. Metro agrees and says it’s buying smaller vehicles and writing new contracts.

King County Metro Transit’s Access service, which carries people with disabilities across the county, is inefficient and fails to promote service for non-English-speaking riders, says a county audit issued Tuesday.

“Since 2008, the number of rides [Access] Transit gives have gone down, trips have become longer, and costs have increased,” the 60-page audit says.

Access spends $61 million a year, or 9 percent of all transit operating dollars, to carry 900,000 passengers, less than 1 percent of total transit use.

Among other problems, Metro pays contractors by the hour to drive clunky 13-person minibuses. Usually they carry one customer and make some return trips empty.

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As of December last year the operating costs reached $60 per ride, compared with an average $40 in peer cities, the report says.

The transportation services are required by the Americans With Disabilities Act.

When Access does carry more people for efficiency, passengers sometimes spend extra time being “taken on circuitous routes,” the audit says. Half of riders surveyed said they’re dissatisfied with travel times.

Metro has a chance to correct flaws in mid-2018, when a new contract takes effect….

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