It was a beautiful day for most of the day today, and to get out and enjoy it I decided to head to Bellevue Square to start looking for some new threads to wear for the next wedding coming up. I know there is nothing in Bellevue that I can’t get in Seattle, but I wanted to check out the lake and see what the scene was like over in Bellevue. This also meant that I got to take the 550, which is quite fast for bus service. Yes, it costs more, but for the views, express service, and comfortable Sound Transit buses why not? Plus it probably is no secret, I like Sound Transit, I haven’t had any problems every time I have had to take their buses. Except today! It wasn’t anything ST did, but everything the passengers didn’t do. That is: Pay the EXACT fare! Appalled, disgusted, and confused begin to describe some of my thoughts about this experience. I counted today cause it got to be about every other customer, and 5 didn’t meet that requirement! 5. I am not a fan of fare evaders, I pay my fare as do most on the bus. The thing that got under my skin the most enough to cause me to blog about it, was level of disrespect to the driver. If these punks get on a bus they should know ahead of time what they are going to have to pay! All they have to do is look at the fare box! Watching the people who claimed they didn’t have the extra dollar get off the bus and laughing about it with their friends. There is only one word, ignorance. One guy, get this, used his “Sounder” ticket and read ignorantly to the driver that it should count as a transfer on the bus while walking off the bus. What a moron, the Sounder didn’t run today! The offenders today were younger in their teens, one older, mix of male and female. I have ridden the 550 before where 2 offenders did the same thing once in Bellevue except they didn’t give the sob story that they didn’t have the money, they flat out ran off the bus and flipped the rest of us off. Now, I wonder is this something that occurs on certain routes more than others? I see it on intercity routes, and I feel like it would probably occur on those routes more due to increased passengers. I thought while riding, perhaps it is confusing passengers to have ST and KCM buses be different in cost? But then the disrespect makes me think these people know the difference between the two and probably understand the cost breakdown well enough. Seattle to Bellevue is 2 zones, and costs $2.50! They should make no mistakes, $2.50, not $1.30, and definitely not free! Not to take it out on you, I am sure you all express my frustrations as paying transit folk! I wonder if it might make things better if there was a ST ticket vending machine (TVM) like the Sounder uses at multiple locations downtown that people could buy their tickets and show them upon boarding. That way, you won’t slow down the bus, you will have proof of purchase, and I will feel better about the world. Maybe we could even make it a machine that represents all transit agencies in the metropolitan area. What do you think? Have you encountered this before? Feel free to vent if needed, surely I have.

10 Replies to “Freeloading”

  1. How rude, I totally hear you! I can’t believe the nerve some people have? I wonder how much they lose? I had some lady walk off the bus one day and she was fanning her face with a bunch of single dollars. I don’t get the level of thinking there.

  2. I am a 550 regular and I see the same thing every weekday. There are a surprising number of idiots on the Bellevue-Seattle run. I hope the ORCA pass will reduce the confusion and scamming.

  3. i used to take the 550 about 3 times a week and the kids from Bellevue are the worst kids around when it comes to not paying (aka theft). Just another reason why Seattle is better than Bellevue. Oh, but for teens the fare is $1.75 not $2.50. and it is confusing that KCM is only $.50 for teens and ST is $1.75.

  4. Payment is a real weakness in bus systems. It slows down stops, is inconvenient, and discourages using the bus as a means of transportation. More than once I’ve found another way home because I didn’t have pocket change.

    The ORCA pass will help, and until then I recommend carrying around a few fare tickets in your wallet (well, at least for Metro – do these work on ST?). But my dream is to have all commute time bus transit completely free. I hop on the downtown busses constantly because they’re free, and it cuts stop times at least in half. Of course there would need to be tax subsidies to pay for this, but what benefit is more universal than bus transit?

    -Matt the Engineer

  5. The only realistic solution to this is having riders pay as they ENTER always. Not the confusing pay as you leave when boarding from downtown nonsense. If folks cant pay as they board the bus, kick their asses off. I think the free ride area promotes this type of freeloading mentality. Sounds good in theory, but essentally makes the buses downtown into psycho coasters.

  6. I’m currently living in Taiwan, which has a pretty good public transportation system. The bus system is heavily used as are the Mass Rapid Transits (MRT). I think the pay system that they have is quite good and doesn’t involve change or payment of money on the bus. We have a card with the same idea as a Starbucks card where you put money on it and when you board the bus or enter the MRT areas, you place your card against this machine and it automatically deducts from the card. That takes away from any freeloaders or people trying to find exact change. If you go to any of the Asian countries like Hong Kong or Japan, they have similar systems and the card can be used not only for payment of public transportation but even in some convenient stores. As you can see, the public transportation is highly developed in Asia, and I think cities in the US that are developing their public transportation systems could look abroad for some ideas.

  7. Either make the buses free, or make them easy, like $1 for any trip.

    If they plastered every bus with advertising on the outside, it would bring in more revenue than all the ticket payers, and would make the bus MUCH faster and more dependably on time.

    I took the 560 home from the airport, and it took 5 mins for all the people to find change.

  8. I do agree with you on bus freeloaders. They typically approach the situation from a “what are you going to do about it?” angle rather than “I only have this much…please?” angle. It’s too bad, but I figure the transit systems have a predicted amount of bleed in their budgets to account for these types.

    On the subject of the Sounder pass, while it is true that Sounder rarely runs on weekends, you can buy a weekly/biweekly/monthly pass in one of the kiosks that is valid within that duration. There have been more than a few times when I’ve needed a pass at that very moment when the transit vendor office wasn’t open (usually too early in the mornings, or too late at night) and had to use one of the machines. Sure, you get funny looks from the bus driver because it has a picture of a train on it and most people don’t use them, but they’re just as valid as any other pass.

  9. This is definitely the truth: people just can’t seem to realize that this service is to their benefits. They should also realize that the driver dislikes these situations as much as they do, and that they do, and treat them with more respect. Is it really that hard to grab an ST booklet or look online for fares?

    – Neil

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