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King County Metro’s new pilot program paves the way for companies like Chariot to grow in Seattle.
(Photo by Colin Miller)

Commuters in the Seattle region will soon be able to request shuttle rides to and from transit stations using a mobile app, thanks to a partnership between King County Metro and Chariot, a Ford-owned company.

The service launches Tuesday, Oct. 23 in Bellevue, Wash. Using an app designed by Ford Smart Mobility, commuters within a designated region surrounding the Eastgate Park-and-Ride will be able to request a Ford mini-shuttle to pick them up from their homes. Riders will be ferried to and from the park-and-ride, where they can access public transportation for the remainder of their trips.

“We hope the service reduces barriers and helps customers reach Eastgate Park-and-Ride more easily, as all 1,600 spaces are regularly full early in the morning,” said King County Metro’s Jeff Switzer in an email. “Being such a new service for us, not only from a service concept perspective, but also by the way we are partnering with Ford Smart Mobility, we are putting a strong emphasis on performance monitoring and evaluation.”

King County Metro plans to expand the on-demand shuttle service throughout the Seattle region during the year-long pilot. The initial service, which serves the Factoria, Lake Hills, Somerset, and Lakemont neighborhoods, will be available from 6-10 a.m. and 4-8 p.m.

The initial service area for King County Metro’s Chariot pilot. (Image via KingCounty.gov)

The Chariot service will be free for the first few months. Eventually, it will cost the same as a standard Metro bus ride. Riders will be able to use their ORCA cards to pay for shuttle rides. Chariot employees will drive the shuttles under the pilot program.

Chariot was founded in 2014 and raised a $3 million seed round after emerging from Y Combinator in 2015. The company sold to Ford in September 2016 for $65 million. Chariot is already operating its enterprise service in Seattle, allowing companies to ferry their employees back and forth from work in 14-seat Ford Transit Wagons.

“We see a huge opportunity ahead in Seattle,” said Chariot CEO Dan Grossman. “With the continued population and job growth, the community has had to deal with ongoing increases in congestion, and that makes a real impact on quality of life. In recent months we’ve seen growing demand from businesses in Seattle and surrounding areas who see this as opportunity to be good corporate citizens, and help get their employees to and from work daily in a better way than by driving themselves.”

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