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Metro’s current adult fare structure is complex. It includes extra charges for travel during weekday peak commute hours and for trips that cross a zone boundary during those peak hours. This can confuse riders, slow down boarding, and lead to fare disputes that jeopardize driver safety.

For these reasons, Metro explored options to simplify our adult fare structure and make it more consistent with other agencies. Over the past few months we heard from people through online surveys and through direct outreach to people unlikely to participate in online surveys. A strong majority expressed a preference for a $2.75 flat fare, with no zone or peak surcharges. King County Executive Dow Constantine’s fare proposal to the King County Council incorporates what we heard from the public. No changes are being considered for youth, senior, disabled, ORCA LIFT, or Access fares.

We also asked for ideas and recommendations for how we could help assure that transit remains affordable for those who need it most. This feedback has informed additional research and efforts Metro will take over the next two years to enhance programs for very-low-income riders. We will also work to eliminate ORCA card fees for seniors and people with disabilities who qualify for the Regional Reduced Fare Permit, and to reduce card fees for all other adult and youth riders. See the recommendations to simplify fares.

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Community involvement

Metro conducted an intensive public engagement process between March and June 2017 to inform a recommendation to the King County Executive. Metro recruited and facilitated a stakeholder advisory group, briefed and interviewed interested groups, and conducted two rounds of gathering feedback from the general public. We also contracted with community-based organizations to involve the general public, diverse community members, people with low incomes, English language learners, and other populations less likely to respond to online surveys. In total, we received more than 12,000 comments either directly in face-to-face outreach activities or through online surveys.

About 4,500 people took our first survey. Respondents told us they support changing Metro’s fare structure to make fares easier to use and understand, to speed up boarding and travel time, to help keep drivers and passengers safe by reducing fare disputes, and to consider the increasing number of people living in suburban areas outside the Seattle zone boundary.

About 6,600 took our second survey. Respondents told us they prefer a single adult fare of $2.75, good for travel any time, for any distance.

Read our public engagement report

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DeAnna Martin
Community Relations Planner
Send DeAnna an email to sign up to receive updates on this project or call 206-477-3835

Timeline

  • Phase 1 public engagement

    Advisory group—kickoff meeting

    Get input: What’s important to customers as we design fare changes and future programs to speed boarding, improve driver safety, help increase ridership, and reduce barriers?

  • Phase 2 public engagement

    Advisory group—second meeting

    Get input on a preferred fare option that simplifies zone and peak fares, as well as longer-term pilot projects to reduce barriers for vulnerable populations.

  • Advisory group—final meeting

    Prepare final zone/peak fare change package for consideration by King County Executive and Council.

  • King County Executive transmits proposed zone/peak fare change package to King County Council.

    Report back on zone/peak fare change recommendation and next steps.

  • King County Council considers zone/peak fare change package.

Advisory group

We formed an advisory group with who represent various organizations with a stake in public transit. The membership also reflects the diversity of our various transit users—including young people, older adults, people with disabilities, people with low or no income, commuters, and college and university students.

The group met three times, once each in March, April, and May, to help Metro think through the impacts of various fare options and advise us on what we need to do to make transit and ORCA more accessible. (The group served in an advisory capacity only. It did not make any formal recommendations or decisions.)

Members
  • Ezra Basom, Metro Transit bus driver
  • Kendle Bjelland, Commute Seattle
  • Cliff Cawthon, Rainier Beach Action Coalition
  • Hillary Coleman, Seattle-King County Coalition on Homelessness
  • Anne Eskridge, University of Washington, Transportation Services
  • Juan Flores, Rainier Beach Action Coalition
  • Augusta DeVries, Bellevue Downtown Association/TransManage
  • Hope Drumond, Alliance of People with disAbilities
  • Gail Gustavson, International Community Health Services
  • Daniel Heldring, Microsoft
  • Kimberly Heymann, Alliance of People with disAbilities
  • Jeff Keever, Seattle Central College
  • Claire McDaniel, Sound Generations
  • Aaron Morrow, King County Transit Advisory Commission
  • Daphne Pie, Public Health – Seattle King County
  • Janelle Rothfolk, Catholic Community Services of King County
  • Hester Serebrin, Transportation Choices Coalition
  • Arielle Washington, Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle
  • Katie Wilson, Transit Riders Union
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