King County Executive Dow Constantine announced a proposal Wednesday to simplify Metro’s fares, establishing a single $2.75 fare for all adult passengers, no matter the time of day or where they travel in King County. The proposed ordinance also would increase assistance for passengers who earn a lower income.
Metro currently has one of the most complex fare structures in the nation, with one zone for the City of Seattle and another for all areas outside the city, as well as extra charges during the morning and evening commute.
One-third of riders in a recent survey said the current system is too complex and difficult to understand. In a proposal to the King County Council announced today, Executive Constantine streamlined Metro fares to $2.75, and increased funding for discounted tickets.
"You said you wanted simpler fares, and we made it happen. No matter where or when you ride, simpler is better,” said Executive Constantine. “Whether you're traveling between Ballard and Bellevue, White Center and Westlake, or anywhere that crosses the Seattle city limits, this new fare means money in your pocket. For riders who may end up paying a little more, we’re making sure people with low incomes, seniors, and the disabled and have more access to transit than ever.”
About 65 percent of Metro customers will see no change or a fare reduction, according to boarding data.
Metro spent six months hearing from customers, and received more than 11,000 responses to two public surveys, including one in which 80 percent expressed support for a flat fare.
If the King County Council approves the proposed ordinance, it could take effect as soon as July 2018.
"This proposal makes our fare structure much simpler and easier to use, doing away with zone and peak-period fares,” said King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci, also Regional Transit Committee chair. “The result will be no change or a fare decrease for most riders and will make transit more attractive for thousands of daily riders on the Eastside and all over King County."
An estimated 35 percent of Metro boardings take place during off-peak hours, and those passengers would pay 25 cents more.
- 21 percent of off-peak riders pay full adult fares without any subsidy or employer-sponsored pass.
- 14 percent of off-peak riders use employer or organization-sponsored transit passes.
About 31 percent of Metro riders qualify for ORCA Lift, youth, senior and disabled fares. They would see no change.
The ordinance would include additional funding to help passengers who earn very low incomes not covered by ORCA Lift and passengers least able to pay during off-peak hours:
- Increased funding for the Human Services Ticket Program, from $3.6 million to $4 million, to offset higher cost for social service agencies that distribute discount tickets. Forty-four percent of tickets sold through the program are for off-peak trips.
- Working with ORCA partners to reduce fees for adult and youth ORCA cards and eliminate the $3 card fee for seniors and people with disabilities.
- Continuing to work with schools, colleges and universities to enhance fare programs for students.
You said you wanted simpler fares, and we made it happen. No matter where or when you ride, simpler is better. For people traveling from outside Seattle, this new fare means money in your pocket. For riders who may end up paying a little more, we’re making sure people with low incomes, seniors, and the disabled and have more access to transit than ever.
This proposal makes our fare structure much simpler and easier to use, doing away with zone and peak-period fares. The result will be no change or a fare decrease for most riders and will make transit more attractive for thousands of daily riders on the Eastside and all over King County.
The residents of Pacific will be able to more easily get to jobs, school or other opportunities as the result of Metro’s simpler fare structure. And the people who need help the most will benefit from Metro’s proposal to work with regional partners to eliminate or reduce ORCA card and transit pass fees for seniors, youth and disabled riders.
This fare change will become more important as cities in South King County continue to grow – and as people move to south-end cities in search of more affordable housing. Tukwila is a major employment center for the region. We have workers crossing over the current fares zones every day.
A simple $2.75 flat fare makes Metro service easier and more accessible for the hundreds of thousands of riders who depend on us. It makes boarding faster, which helps reduce delays. And it improves safety for drivers and customers because it lowers the potential for disputes over payment.
Everyone deserves access to opportunity: the chance to get to work or school affordably, quickly, and reliably. With this proposal, Metro is removing barriers that make it challenging for folks to get on a bus by both simplifying fares and making transit more affordable for those who need it most.
For more information, contact:
Scott Gutierrez, Department of Transportation, 206-477-8502