King County Metro has partnered with the Cities of Des Moines and Normandy Park to pilot new transportation services for commuters and residents as the area experiences an influx of new employers. As a first step, Metro wants to hear from area workers through an online survey about their transportation needs. The survey will help shape pilot services through Metro’s Community Connections program, an innovative collaboration with local government and community partners.
Community Connections, previously known as the Alternative Services Demonstration Program, focuses on cost-efficient solutions in areas that don’t have the infrastructure, density, or land use to support regular, fixed-route bus service. Services could include routes with flexible service areas, real-time ridesharing between home neighborhoods and transit centers, reservation-based local trips, and ridematching.
The survey, which runs through May 31, will help Metro and city partners assess what services might best meet workers needs in the project areas. The Des Moines Creek Business Park, which opened in 2016, is expected to bring 2,500 new workers to the area, including 1,600 when the Federal Aviation Administration moves its regional headquarters there in 2018. Most Normandy Park employment is located along First Avenue South, including Manhattan Village and Normandy Park Towne Center.
Workers in both areas currently lack a direct transit connection to the Angle Lake light-rail station, which is about 1.5 miles away.
“These projects demonstrate how Metro continues to explore new, cost-efficient ways to connect more people with transit and meet the unique needs of specific communities,” Metro General Manager Rob Gannon said. “By offering more transportation options, we provide a direct route to sustainable economic growth for communities across King County.”
The project partners are aiming to launch a service in the fall of 2017. After assessing needs, conducting outreach, and identifying solutions, Metro typically launches these types of services in pilot mode, usually for a two-year period.
The services being developed would complement regular transit service within the Des Moines and Normandy Park project areas. The Des Moines project area follows a corridor between the Angle Lake light rail station, the Des Moines Creek Business Park, and the City’s Marina District, which is a shopping and recreation hub. Normandy Park’s project area encompasses its entire city limits.
“We are very supportive of this initiative and appreciate Metro’s pilot program to address new transportation solutions,” Des Moines Mayor Matt Pina said. “This mobility option will support multimodal transit demand within our city, enhancing economic activity and relieving congestion by connecting to regional transportation links.”
Metro will make a second online survey available to both workers and residents later this year to help identify a set of possible services for the project areas.
“I am excited Normandy Park has this opportunity to work with King County Metro and the City of Des Moines as part of the Community Connections pilot projects awarded to both cities,” Normandy Park Mayor Jonathan Chicquette said. “It is vital that our cities have reliable transit connections to the Angle Lake Link Light Rail station. I encourage our citizens, business people, and workforce to help in identifying their needs for new community-based transit connections, by participating in the County’s upcoming employee needs assessment survey and other planned outreach efforts.”
Metro has convened a stakeholder group of business owners, developers, and community group leaders to guide the outreach process, define needs, and identify possible solutions.
Community Connections serves communities throughout King County. Metro has several projects currently underway as well new projects to be initiated through 2017 and 2018.