FILE - Wheelchair boarding Bus

A woman using a power wheelchair waits to board a RapidRide C Line bus. Photo credit: SDOT

(The Center Square) – The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) announced a pilot program called “Ride Now” that will give applicants over the age of 65 and individuals with disabilities six free $20 vouchers a month access to rides through various services.

The services that will accept these vouchers are Yellow Cab, Uber, Lyft, or transit stations like bus stops and the Link light rail. The program is a short term service that will be active for the months of April and May of this year, meaning the ride vouchers will no longer be accepted on June 1.

SDOT said in a statement that “these $20 vouchers should fully cover most trips up to three miles” and that “all rides must begin or end within Seattle city limits.” Riders are responsible to cover any remaining fees for their travels.

The national program, Transit Planning 4 All, works to help communities nationwide implement inclusive programs to improve local transit services. The program gave a grant to SDOT in 2020 to use for investing in inclusive programs to help seniors and people with disabilities with transportation.

“The grant has allowed us to conduct an inclusive, compensated planning process and offer a mobility support pilot program for older adults and people with disabilities as well as their caregivers,” SDOT said in a statement.

Similar programs have been installed elsewhere across the U.S. Portland, Oregon implemented an accessible service program called PDX WAV in 2019 that has helped citizens with disabilities get access to transportation through a central wheelchair accessible vehicle dispatch center.

While customers still have to pay a fee, the goal of the program was to give individuals easier access to find transportation through mobile devices. The Director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), Chris Warner, talked about the effects the program would have on transportation in Portland.

"When it comes to taxi, Uber and Lyft rides, we have three fundamental goals," Warner said in a statement. "We want it to be easy for Portlanders to get a ride. We want those rides to be safe. And we want those rides to be accessible to every Portlander. With PDX WAV, we're taking a big step forward in providing Portlanders with mobility devices with the same level of service enjoyed by everyone else."

Seattle residents looking to use Ride Now, they will have to use services like Uber, Lyft and Yellow Cab through their mobile devices or computer. Once they are dropped off at their location, riders will present their paper voucher or digital promo code to receive the $20 discount. 

SDOT is looking to survey users of the Ride Now program to help shape future services once the pilot program is over in June. 

Originally published on thecentersquare.com, part of the TownNews Content Exchange.

Locations

Current Contests