Ron Sims is asking the county council to approve a 25 cent fare hike effective Oct. 1. This is fast action, which I applaud. Raising fares is less damaging to ridership than cutting service, especially since many riders receive free passes or employer subsidies*.

Anyway, here’s the fare chart:

Proposed bus fare changes

Current Metro fares
Proposed Metro fares
(July 1, 2008)
(Oct. 1, 2008)
Adult, one zone peak
Adult, two zone peak
Adult, off peak
Access, per trip
$1.00 (As of Jan. 1, 2009)
Access, monthly pass
$27 (as of Jan. 1, 2009)

More tidbits:

In addition to fare increases, Metro is proposing additional steps to offset rising fuel costs. It’s asking the King County Council to reconsider its prohibition of wrapped advertising on Metro buses and is taking steps to develop a fuel-hedging program aimed at reducing fuel price volatility.

These proposed short-term actions are aimed at preserving existing service and delivering new service already on the way as part of Metro’s Transit Now program. The agency has made a commitment to expand its overall system by up to 20 percent by 2016 to help meet demand and projected population growth. In the past three years alone, ridership has grown by more than 18 percent.

There’s been speculation that high fuel prices would consume the earnings from Transit Now; I’m glad that’s not the case. As many problems as I have with RapidRide, it sure beats the short-term alternative.

Thanks to tipper Gordon Werner.

*As a side note, certain large regional employers with a fixed transit subsidy might want to look at increasing that subsidy pretty soon. You know who you are.

14 Replies to “Metro Fares (Probably) Going Up Again”

  1. When did they ban wrapped advertising? I remember seeing giant ipod ads on lots of buses last year. Nobody likes seeing giant ads all the time but for transit I think we need to accept that we need more advertising to fund everything we want. I am surprised there isn’t more advertising in bus shelters and in the buses themselves. It seems like most of the ad space inside is devoted to metro announcements and such.

    1. The wraps wouldn’t be so bad if they left a horizontal “slit”, maybe 8″ or so wide, that would allow riders to get a better look at what’s passing by — like before it’s their bus stop! With a little bit of creativity, this could be incorporated into the design of the wraps, becoming a “feature” rather than a liability. Yes, transit needs all the revenue it can get.

      On a related point, I noticed advertising panels on the SLU streetcar station shelters. This is a first for Seattle, where such “off premises” advertising has been prohibited on bus shelters and other public facilities located on city streets. Metro should get these on their regular bus shelters also.

  2. Another comment: one reason these small fare raises are a better solution than cutting service is that it’s not enough to dissuade someone from riding the bus across town but it might stop someone from riding the bus 4 blocks when they could walk instead. I notice people doing this all the time and it really slows down the bus and increases crowding. Raising fares can help keep the short-hoppers off and make more room for the long-haulers who really need it.

  3. I’m still amazed that a 1 zone ride on ST is $1.50. Anyone know if this will increase as well?

  4. I’m pretty new to reading this blog, but I’d be interested in how this falls in comparison to other major metropolitan areas. My employer is really stingy on transit discounts (face value out of my paycheck pre-tax) because our Seattle office is very small and always forgotten. Maybe if Metro is more expensive than the areas where our major offices are (Chicago and DC) we’d have more standing to pressure them into better transit discounts… or at least a raise!

  5. I fully support this fare increase if it means we won’t be losing any service, and the Transit Now service will continue to be rolled out. I’d much rather pay more to keep from having to make cuts, which is funny since I won’t be paying more with the new fare increase. The reduced fare permit is great, and I really appreciate being given a break on the fare, but sometimes (most of the time) I think Metro should really consider bumping up the price of the pass at the very least. Right now it costs me just $9 for a monthly pass. Even a regular 50 cent PugetPass costs $18 (if I remember correctly). It seems like Metro could raise the pass to say even $13 or $14, still make it an incredible amount of savings, and realize a bit of extra revenue. I don’t know, maybe it just isn’t even extra revenue for them to bother, but it seems that in these times every cent counts.

    On the topic of the bus wraps, I’m all for advertising; I think it is a great way to increase revenue, but those wraps really were obnoxious. I wish they coudl come up with a solution that at least allowed some open space over the windows. As I recall (and maybe I’m wrong) but some cities, like Portland for example, actually have sponsors for some of their bus stops (maybe it is just light rail and streetcar stops in Portland). For example “next stop 3rd and Pine sponsored by Macy’s. This is the Macy’s stop”. This would be even easier to accomplish if Metro would set up automatic stop announcements like they talked about doing oh so long ago, but that’s another rant for another day.

    1. Oh no, they have those ridiculous “this stop is sponsored by… Evergreen Bank” announcements on the streetcar, and every time I’m on it I hope that experiment is a miserable failure. I prefer listening to people talk on their cell phones to being bombarded with a constant stream of unavoidable commercials.

      It’s worth an extra quarter to reduce the amount of visual pollution in our environment, and to be able to see out the window. I find pervasive advertising cheapens the experience.

      But then again, I’m used to paying $3 fares, so it seems like people in Seattle have it pretty easy anyway.

  6. What about the bill that just passed the house? The “emergency funding for transit” thing that would provide “relief for gas prices” or some crap. Shouldn’t that be helping out with the prices? And I think that most of us here may be forgetting this because we haven’t been in the situation before (if we have time to spend on this blog I doubt we’re that strapped for cash), but raising fares even a quarter does a lot to prevent the most impoverished and transit-dependent from being able to use the bus to go to work and to do their shopping and so on. If you don’t believe me, I’d look up the Bus Riders Union in Los Angeles.

    1. A federal authorization – like what’s going to pass – only ALLOWS for the slow process of requesting grants to start, followed by federal budget additions in budget bills, that then get labeled as “pork” by people from halfway across the country.

  7. Spokane has a bus system way more reliable than our Metro. Their bus trip are a dollar. Why should I have to pay, what is going to be soon? 2.25? Why should I pay a dollar more per trip. I can’t afford this. I couldn’t make it to school the other day because I didn’t have bus money, and couldn’t even afford to eat that day. I’m not some spoiled jerk that works at Microsoft or Amazon or the useless Seattle City light employee that gets free bus passes. I can’t afford a car, need the bus to get to school and work. These fair increases are hurting the wrong people.

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