Skip to main content
King County logo

Transportation news

Department of
Transportation


Metro seeks public comment on two proposals for simplifying bus fares

Summary

As part of a public process to simplify bus fares, King County Metro has unveiled two options to make adult fare payment faster and easier for all riders. Metro developed these options with input from a community advisory group and the results from a public survey. Metro invites the public to tell us which of the two proposals they prefer via an online questionnaire.

Story

Metro and the six other regional transit agencies that make up the ORCA smart-card system are looking at simplifying fares across all agencies in preparation for modernization of the ORCA system. Metro’s complex fare structure can confuse riders. Adults pay extra for travel during weekday peak-commute periods and for trips crossing the zone boundary during weekday peak hours. Metro currently charges $2.50, $2.75 and $3.25 for regular adult fares, depending on zone boundaries and time of day.

Today, Metro announced two options for simplifying those adult fares: This proposal would not include changes to ORCA Lift, youth, senior, disabled or Access fares. 

  • Option 1: A $2.75 flat fare with no surcharges for traveling during peak commute hours or across zones. 
  • Option 2: A $3 peak/$2.50 off-peak fare. Riders would no longer pay extra for crossing zones but would still pay a higher rate during peak hours (6–9 a.m. and 3 – 6 p.m. weekdays). 

This month, Metro is conducting the second round of the fare review process and invites the public to provide feedback on both options by participating in an online questionnaire by May 5 or participating in a public meeting on April 25 or 27. The April 27 meeting will be held online. Details are available at www.kingcounty.gov/metro/farereview.

In addition to seeking broad public input, Metro has convened an advisory group to consider various fare options and advise on additional work Metro needs to do to decrease barriers for fare payment. The group, which has already met twice and will meet a third time in May, represents employers, human service organizations, advocacy groups and others. They provide advice on the near and long-term fare options. Meetings are open to the public for observation. 

Metro will incorporate the recommendations in a final proposal, which is expected to be transmitted to the King County Council this summer.

More than 4,000 people participated in a Metro survey earlier this month that asked customers to list their priorities for a simpler bus fare. Faster boarding, promoting safety for operators and passengers by reducing fare disputes, and keeping fares affordable for people with low incomes were top priorities. Metro has heard from customers, including many who pay with cash, that fares can be difficult to understand. Simpler fares promote the safety of operators and customers by reducing the potential for fare disputes, and can lead to faster boarding.

Metro encourages all transit riders to participate, including youth, older adults, students, ORCA LIFT riders, riders with disabilities, as well as schools, employers and community-based organizations. Metro also is contracting with community organizations to hear from harder-to-reach populations so their input is considered as Metro assesses options and develops programs to address affordability and access to transit.