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WSDOT Statewide Planning Human Services Transportation Plan online open house – Human services transportation today

What is human services transportation?

Human services transportation helps people with mobility challenges and other special transportation needs get to where they need to go. Many people experience transportation challenges because of disability, low income, age or other factors. When transportation services fail to meet their needs, they are unable to get to medical appointments, work, school, shopping and other services. These gaps in service lead to additional challenges—including poor health, lower wages, isolation and overall poor quality of life.

Read the Human Services Today chapter of the Statewide Human Services Transportation Plan [link to PDF]

Public transportation agencies, nonprofits, tribes and private operators provide human services transportation.

Who uses human services transportation?

Many Washingtonians rely on human services transportation to access food, medical and social services, work, school and more.

Map of transportation services in Washington state
This map shows the distribution of people who have dedicated transportation services in Washington state.

People with dedicated transportation services and programs include:

  • People with disabilities
  • People with low incomes
  • People who are older than 65
  • Veterans
  • People living on tribal land

If you think you may qualify for dedicated transportation services, you can learn more at RideSource NW.

Mom pushing stroller and elder citizen being pushed in wheelchair

Examples of other groups with special transportation needs include (but are not limited to):

  • People experiencing homelessness
  • Migrant/seasonal workers
  • Ethnically and racially diverse communities
  • Families with young children
  • Youth
  • People who use languages other than English

What types of services do people with special transportation needs use?

The need for human services transportation is growing in Washington state. More people are aging, speaking languages other than English, and the rising cost of housing is leading to more people experiencing homelessness or moving further from the services they rely on.

Human services customers rely on these services to get where they need to go:

  • Fixed-route transportation
    Buses, rail and ferries run on regular, scheduled routes with fixed stops.
  • Demand-response transportation
    Demand-response service allows passengers to contact an agency and request transportation to a specific location at a set time.
  • Route-deviated transportation
    Some buses or vans stop at fixed points and keeps to a timetable but can change course between two stops depending on the needs of the customers.
  • Friends and family
    When convenient service is not available, many people with special transportation needs rely heavily on friends and family members for rides.
  • Active transportation
    Everyone uses active transportation at some point in a trip, whether walking to a rail station, bicycling to work or rolling home from a bus stop.
Students in crosswalk and elder citizen boarding transit vehicle

People with special transportation needs may require more support to learn about the services and training on how to use them. Many mobility management groups identify needs for the people they serve, connect people to services and coordinate services between providers to reduce gaps and increase efficiency for people with special transportation needs.