2019 was a big year for Trailhead Direct. And it’s not just us who are saying that. We heard it straight from you, dear Trailhead Direct rider. The data shows it too! It was our biggest season to date, with a 75% increase in ridership over last year.  

And check out these stats:  

  • 35,838 rides 
  • 6,800 cars diverted from the road and trailhead parking lots  
  • 1 new route added, Cougar Mountain, connecting those who live in some of the nation’s most racially diverse communities to trails for the first time
  • 49% of riders took Metro to get to Trailhead Direct, 30% walked, 16% took Sound Transit Link light rail, and 71% don’t own a car at all 
  • 90% of passengers said they were “very satisfied” with the service 

“I like that your pickup point is in the South end. I think it’s essential to connect people of color and those in the lower income community to accessible hikes as I feel outdoor recreation has become a luxury where you need a car and equipment.” 

– King County Metro Trailhead Direct survey respondent

Did you know that Trailhead Direct is the only public transit to trails program that provides service at this scale and frequency? That’s huge. Not only for transit reasons, but because Trailhead Direct is also helping King County make progress on crucial issues such as:  

  • Increasing regional mobility to balance population growth and reduce road congestion  
  • Making sure a diverse range of people from all racial and socioeconomic backgrounds can easily and affordably access the outdoors  
  • Confronting climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions to protect current and future King County residents  

Plus, Trailhead Direct isn’t only for hiking. One third of the people who rode Trailhead Direct actually reported that it was for non-recreational reasons (getting to/from work, shopping, medical appointments, etc.). Trailhead Direct helped provide more transit opportunities for those looking to move between urban and rural areas.  

Many passengers enjoyed the convenience of the service: 

  • “I can chain hikes from one trailhead to another (rather than having to return to a car.)” 
  • “It’s a great way to hike with a group without having to coordinate a carpool or worry about taking more cars than necessary to a trailhead.” 
  • “Can start and end at different trailheads.” 

Several passengers cited the fact that Trailhead Direct costs the same as a standard Metro bus trip: 

  • “I don’t have to pay $90 to rent a car, or bug friends to borrow a car.” 
  • “Beats the heck out of getting a Zipcar and paying to park it at a trailhead!” 

Others simply said the prefer Trailhead Direct for the experience: 

  • “I could rest on the way home!” 
  • “More kid-friendly with a baby.” 

Another key highlight of the 2019 season was the ability to partner with community organizations, such as The Wilderness Society, Washington Trails Association (WTA), and the Environmental Coalition of South Seattle (ECOSS). With the assistance of ECOSS, people from the Bhutanese, Chinese, Congolese, Japanese, Kenyan, Korean, Latinx, Vietnamese, and Ghanaian communities used Trailhead Direct to experience the outdoors, 66% of whom were new to hiking!  

“I personally don’t have barriers [to accessing new outdoor spaces/experiences]. I want to see barriers removed for people who cannot afford to get the trailhead and/or are trying to do so with a lighter environmental footprint and/or who don’t want to fight for parking at popular areas.” 

Survey respondent 

“[My favorite part is that] I don’t have to drive so there won’t be more cars in those beautiful places.” 

ECOSS Trailhead Direct survey respondent 

Thank you to all our partner organizations and our riders! We love being able to better connect you with the natural beauty of the region. King County Parks and Metro are now working together to on the 2020 season. Stay tuned for more!  

1 Comment on “Trailhead Direct 2019: It just keeps getting better!

  1. awesome awesome program….. wonderful trails and well kept parks Thanks Ya`ll

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