King County Metro, Sound Transit, Community Transit and the City of Seattle are hosting an open house on Thursday, 4:00-6:30 PM, at Union Station, to discuss their plans for the elimination of the Ride Free Area and obtain feedback from the community. Done right, RFA elimination could boost Metro’s revenue, reduce casual fare evasion, and eliminate Metro’s arcane “when to pay” and “where to exit” rules. Done wrong, RFA elimination could make buses even slower and less reliable on the surface through the CBD, and dramatically reduce the peak capacity of the downtown transit tunnel.
Metro has studied RFA elimination extensively, but it remains to be seen whether the agency has the time and money to get this right by September. In addition, as I’ve pointed out before in comments, one way to mitigate bus congestion downtown is to run fewer buses downtown, by requiring riders on underutilized radial routes to transfer to frequent, high-performing trunk routes, thereby ensuring that every bus entering or leaving downtown is a full bus. What we’ve seen so far in this respect with the Fall restructure process is not encouraging.
UPDATE: Metro’s Linda T. notes that if you can’t make the meeting, you can also provide feedback and learn more at this page on the Metro site.
Transit agencies and city host open house on elimination of
Ride Free Area in downtown Seattle
Metro also moving to pay-on-entry system countywide in September
The Ride Free Area for buses in downtown Seattle is scheduled to be eliminated on Sept. 29, 2012. At the same time, riders will begin paying when entering the bus for all trips.
These changes will help King County Metro Transit save money and preserve bus service. Sound Transit and Community Transit are also preparing to act on similar changes for their bus operations in King County.
The three agencies and the city of Seattle are hosting an open house to update the community and get feedback:
Thursday, March 29
Union Station Great Hall
401 S. Jackson St., Seattle
Metro is currently working with Sound Transit, Community Transit, and Seattle on an implementation plan for the Ride Free Area changes. This includes options to address transportation needs of low or no-income people who use the Ride Free Area to travel to essential services in the downtown area.
The Sound Transit Board is scheduled to vote in June on charging fares for ST Express bus trips within the downtown area, consistent with current policy for Link light rail.