Ride Pingo to Transit: How we doubled ridership in Kent, Washington with Transit Connect
By Alexander Harrington, Senior Product Marketing Manager
In early 2021, we were approached by King County Metro (“Metro”) to bring on-demand transit to Kent, Washington with the goal of attracting new riders by providing simpler connections to the community’s existing fixed route networks. That September, we launched our solution: the Ride Pingo to Transit service.
Over 18 months, we’ve seen profound growth on Ride Pingo to Transit, maintained a near perfect rider rating, and witnessed our groundbreaking Transit Connect™ feature transform the way a community moves — Metro and The Routing Company (TRC) worked together as true partners in developing an innovative service that benefits the local community. Here’s what we accomplished together during our pilot that wraps up on March 5th.
About the service
Developed with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, Ride Pingo to Transit operates seven days a week in Kent, WA and provides its riders with seamless transport to and from Sounder trains and buses at Kent Station — thanks to our Transit Connect™ feature, which guarantees connections for on-demand transit riders to existing fixed route networks.
As a result of this project’s success, TRC was named a winner of Metro Magazine’s 2022 Innovative Solutions Award for Transit Connect™.
In addition to a 200% increase in ridership, productivity (defined by passengers per vehicle online hour) continued to trend upward throughout the deployment. Specifically, Ride Pingo to Transit showed week on week increases in passengers moved and completed trips nearly every week.
Monthly passengers moved also trended upward — meaning we moved more people every active week, every single month. In the last two quarters, Ride Pingo to Transit consistently moved over 2,000 people monthly — with the exception of months with holidays or other service interruptions due to inclement weather.
As a result, our monthly productivity at peak performance approached 8 passengers per online hour — and with persistent increased demand from riders, this number would’ve continued to rise.
Further, riders average between 3 and 4 trips per week, indicating strong routine use. In fact, 21% of Kent riders use the service more than 10 times a month.
The average rider rating for the service? 4.9 out of 5.
The numbers are powerful — and so are the stories
Even more humbling than our numbers were the stories we’ve heard from Ride Pingo to Transit riders:
“It allows me to safely leave my house and get to the Transit Center so that I may take a bus to where I need to go. I love being able to take Pingo to downtown Kent on days when I just feel I need to get out of the house.” - T.
“All the drivers are very friendly and courteous. When I ride with Pingo, I feel special and cared about and that is the most wonderful thing about your service.” — Trish
“Ride Pingo is a lifeline for me and other people with mobility challenges. I used to spend $80 a week on ridesharing to get around my city, and now, I can get around for much less.” — Andrea
How we did it
We provided around-the-clock, dedicated service to Metro to ensure optimal performance. Updates and user experience improvements were regularly made to the Ride Pingo app. Our Operations and Engineering teams actively monitored service performance, and recommended and executed improvements as the program grew. For example, over the course of the program, maximum wait time and in-car delay time parameters were adjusted so that requests could be fulfilled optimally given changing vehicle numbers.
We also partnered with Metro staff on marketing strategies to reach new riders and encourage existing ones to use the service more. This included integration of several marketing methods, such as Facebook and YouTube advertising, TikTok videos for a younger demographic, targeted radio ads, physical signage, and even a focused, streamed television ad. Nearly all showed a strong impact, but the physical signage, Facebook ads and TikTok videos proved to be especially strong performers when it came to rider and community engagement.
Another key reason behind increasing ridership, routine trips, and consistent rider satisfaction was TRC’s groundbreaking Transit Connect™ feature. Transit Connect™ guarantees connections for riders to existing fixed route networks – in this case, bus and train services leaving from Kent Station. Transit Connect™ delivered over 99% of passengers in time to make their connections. Numerous riders indicated that the convenience offered by Transit Connect™, together with its reliability, were key reasons for high ratings given after trips.
- TRC partnered with Metro to provide an exceptionally more efficient, accessible, and equitable transportation option in the community — which in turn led to steadily increasing ridership results with the Ride Pingo to Transit service.
- This was due to dedicated customer service and communication, consistent user and app experience improvements, TRC’s unique Transit Connect™ functionality, and a collaborative marketing strategy.
- Throughout the service, Metro and TRC collaborated as innovative development partners.
Since its launch, Ride Pingo to Transit has been a productive, highly utilized service that benefits the community it serves — all thanks to our collaborative efforts with our partners at King County Metro.
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