The Downtown Circulator is a free Solid Ground shuttle that runs between a variety of key health and human service providers in downtown Seattle, providing vital transportation access for people living on low incomes. Riding the Circulator is super easy: Just climb on board! No ticket required! But actually finding the bus hasn’t always been.
That’s because in the past, the seven stops along the Circulator route were marked by a sticker on bus stop signs for King County Metro. When Metro relocated all its 1st Ave routes and removed their signs, three of the Circulator stops were left without any sign at all.
That changed earlier this year when Solid Ground and the Seattle Department of Transportation worked together to design and install new signs for each of the Circulator’s seven stops.
“It makes it much easier to find us,” says Kari Ware, Solid Ground’s Senior Director of Transportation. “That was a major hurdle for riders, finding where to catch the bus.”
The Circulator was launched by Solid Ground and SDOT in 2012 after Metro stopped allowing free rides on all its buses in what was known as the “Free Ride Zone” in downtown Seattle. The end of the program created a huge burden for people with low incomes who had previously been able to ride for free between downtown’s many health and human services providers, including food banks, hospitals, day centers, and job-training programs.
A decade later, the Circulator continues to be a vital part of downtown’s human services infrastructure, though ridership dropped off significantly during the pandemic.
The new signs are part of an effort to make the Circulator easier to find and use. It’s only been a few months, but it’s already clear that riders are finding them useful.
“We’re getting some riders at some of the stops where we weren’t getting anybody at all,” Kari says. “But there’s still plenty more room on the bus.”
Solid Ground and SDOT also worked together to revamp a Solid Ground Downtown Circulator flyer to include all of the many services located near each of the seven stops (go to Seattle Downtown Circulator Bus to find the flyer in a variety of languages). They range from Bread of Life Mission and Chief Seattle Club to FareStart and YouthCare’s Orion Center.
The Circulator runs from 7am to 4pm, Monday to Friday, on a one-way, 30-minute loop. It’s free to ride and there are no tickets, eligibility requirements, or applications. Service animals are welcome, and the shuttle is ADA accessible.
“We’re the easiest thing to qualify for because there are no qualifications,” says Kari. “You just get on the bus and ride!
We’re hiring drivers!
Solid Ground Transportation (SGT) Access drivers provide vital services and support for people who can’t use other transit services, helping them get to medical appointments, grocery stores, and other important destinations. Solid Ground is currently hosting weekly job fairs and offering $2,000 hiring bonuses.
Apply now by going to the Solid Ground Bus Operator job description and application. You can also call 206.694.6817 or email email@example.com with any questions.
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