The number of King County Metro riders on the average weekday would fill Seattle’s Lumen Field football stadium four times. Reporting shows that those trips—to appointments, entertainment, family, friends, shopping, school and work—are overwhelmingly safe, in some part due to the extent to which King City Metro has gone to provide customer support.

In fact, they have long been a prime example of how public transportation systems can prioritize inclusivity and accessibility for all. With the Washington state’s King County population increasing significantly over the past decade, 24% of those living in the county today speak a language other than English at home. Recognizing the diverse needs of their riders, King County Metro most recently implemented an innovative Metro Ambassador program, ensuring a smooth and welcoming experience for everyone.

These ambassadors go beyond offering a friendly greeting. They play a crucial role in assisting riders, especially those unfamiliar with the system or facing language barriers.

Access to Interpretation in More than 240 Languages

“What ambassadors do is in-person customer service,” Program Manager Jeanne Suleiman said. “We really wanted to see our ambassadors provide a warm point of contact, on transit, at transit centers, and at transit stops. The ambassador is at the bus stop to help you find your way, show you how to pay, or get language assistance for a rider if they need it, and just to say thank you for choosing us.”


WATCH: See the LanguageLine App in Action with King County Ambassadors


One of the key tools empowering Metro Ambassadors is the LanguageLine app. Accessible on their smartphones, the app provides real-time access to professional interpretation in over 240 languages. The LanguageLine app empowers ambassadors to:

  • Offer comprehensive assistance: Clearly explain routes, schedules, fares, and answer questions in the rider's preferred language, fostering ease and confidence.
  • Build trust and rapport: Effective communication and addressing concerns in a rider’s native language builds trust and creates a welcoming atmosphere.
  • Provide additional resources: Ambassadors can access translated materials and cultural sensitivity training through the app, further enhancing their ability to assist riders.

Program Impact

According to Suleiman, the Ambassador program involves intensive two-week onboarding training. Part of this training is learning how to access LanguageLine, as well as how to make best use of professional interpretation.

“Our ambassadors receive LanguageLine-access training so that we can promote language equity,” she said. “Riders who don’t speak English can only rely on their phone for so much. We feel like human interaction is more helpful and people feel more comfortable that way.”

Dominique Blanchard is a lead ambassador for King County Metro. He’s found LanguageLine invaluable in assisting customers.

“If we have a rider who does not speak English, we bring out the LanguageLine app on our phones,” he said. “That way we can have either a video call or a voice call with an interpreter to help answer their questions about transit, fares, or just be a welcoming presence for our customers.”


According to Suleiman, equipping ambassadors with the LanguageLine app has provided riders with an enhanced perception of safety and security. She also says the individual attention and assistance ensures a positive experience for every customer.

“By bridging language gaps and fostering inclusivity, our ambassadors are creating a more welcoming and connected environment for our riders,” Suleiman said.

LanguageLine Can Help

The LanguageLine app empowers diverse communities like King County by fostering inclusion through real-time access to professional interpretation in over 240 languages. Available on various devices, the app bridges communication gaps in everyday situations, including navigating public transportation and accessing essential services.

Our user-friendly and secure platform facilitates clear communication between individuals who don't share a common language, promoting understanding and trust within communities as it has in King County.

As we’ve seen with the Metro Ambassadors program, the LanguageLine app inspires individuals to actively participate in their communities, fostering a more inclusive and equitable environment for all. It also enhances staff productivity and efficiency by easing communication hurdles that might otherwise be time-consuming.

Interested in what the LanguageLine app can do for your community? We invite you to contact us for a free consultation or quote.

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