As previously reported, Sound Transit’s Express bus fares are going up at the beginning of next month. The one-zone fare is rising from $1.50 to $2.00, catching up with Metro’s fare escalation. The Senior one-zone fare is also going up from 50 cents to 75 cents. This is part of a two-stage fare simplification as depicted above.
More significantly, the concept of a “two-zone fare” now only applies to the fare zones within King County. Any trip that crosses a County Line is an “multi-county” fare, effectively the old three-zone fare ($3.50). For adults going Pierce-South King, Snohomish-North King, or Snohomish-East King, this amounts to a 50 cent increase; it’s also an increase for youth and seniors making similar trips.
One big winner from this change is Community Transit, whose South County-King County commuter fare is $3.50 for adults. Already $1.00 over the competing ST fare, CT felt it couldn’t increase commuter fares in the latest round of budget cuts. With the gap back to 50 cents and on its way to zero, they may feel able to do so in the future. Raising commuter fares is a (relatively) progressive move, as these riders are more likely to be well-off.
All local fares for CT are also going up Tuesday, from $1.50/$1.00/$0.50 for adult/youth/senior to $1.75/$1.25/$0.75.
These changes are of course driven by revenue shortfalls, but they are also steps towards the fare synchronization that many riders are interested in seeing. On the other hand, advocates of more distance-based fares will be disappointed.