StoryHard working King County “retirees” are getting ready for a second career of assisting young people, seniors and individuals trying to get to overnight shelters. Metropolitan King County Councilmember Larry Gossett will be donating retired King County Metro vanpool vans to Operation Nightwatch and Graham Hill Elementary School.
“For almost 20 years we have been giving 'new life' to King County's used vans,” said Gossett. “This year's recipients will continue to be served by King County through this important donation.”
The County Council approved the transfer of the vans at the Council’s April 27 meeting. The vans will provide transportation assistance to local governments, community programs, senior citizens and young people.
Operation Nightwatch provides food and shelter nightly for 150 homeless adults in downtown Seattle, housing for 24 low-income, formerly homeless or housing vulnerable seniors (age 62 and older), and provides assistance to unsheltered homeless people surviving outside. They will be using their van to transport homeless adults to shelter late at night, and to transport low-income seniors for grocery shopping, healthcare appointments, and enrichment activities.
A number of programs within Graham Hill will have access to the van donated to the school. It will be used to transport students who receive special education services to access resources in the community, such as the public swimming pool. It will help transport parents who struggle to participate in school activities, Family Engagement Events, or district wide activities due to lack of transportation. The school’s Student and Family Advocate will use the van to help students and families access transportation to shelters, emergency housing, help families get needed resources from the community (trips to food bank, clothing, mental health/counseling services, ELL/GED classes).
Since 1996, the County Council has transferred retired vans from Metro’s Vanpool program to local nonprofit organizations to provide transportation for the disabled, low-income, young adults, and senior citizens. Governments, agencies and organizations that receive the vans must meet specific requirements:
• Capacity to support ongoing van operation, including assured funding for licensing, insuring, fueling and maintaining the van;
• Ability to provide qualified and trained drivers;
• Specific plans for use of the van to transport low-income, elderly or young people or people with disabilities, and assurance that the use shall be available to those persons without regard to affiliation with any particular organization;
• Ability to support county's public transportation function by reducing single occupancy vehicle trips, pollution and traffic congestion; supplementing services provided by the county's paratransit system and increasing the mobility for the transit-dependent for whom regular transit might not always be a convenient option.
The vanpool program provides mobility for a diverse array of King County residents, supports the positive work of various local organizations, and relieves traffic congestion by reducing the need for single-occupancy vehicles.
If you’re interested in more information or for applying for a vehicle, please contact Councilmember Gossett’s office at 206-477-1002 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.