Photo by Warren Yee

There’s another fare medium out there that I managed to miss the last time I tried to explain it.  The Metro Day Pass, which is sold by drivers only on weekends and holidays and costs $4.50.  It is valid only on Metro buses and not on ST buses operated by Metro.

(H/T: Warren Yee)

54 Replies to “New All-Day Pass”

  1. A Metro-only daypass could make sense if Metro were the exclusive provider, and maybe it works within Seattle city limits, but in much of King County transit means a mix of ST and MT. A daypass that excludes ST service in King County shows what a balkanized fare system we have. Good for Seattle to Kirkland (MT255) and U-District to Bellevue (MT271), but not Seattle to Bellevue (ST550) or U-District to Kirkland (ST540)?

    1. The 255 and 271 both provide local service, and the 550 and 540 provide express service. That’s the best I can do. And don’t remind me that there are a few Metro “express” routes running on the weekend (66 and 358 are the two that come to mind immediately).

      1. From the Yarrow Point freeway station (which happens to be the stop most accessible to my home), the different bus routes provide largely identical service. If I’m headed to Seattle, MT 255 and ST 545 function the same. If I buy a daypass, I want to be able to use either.

        It has hard to characterize the ST 540 as more express than the MT 255.

        Headed toward Issaquah, MT 214 is more express than ST 554.

        In most jurisdictions, when there are different providers and fares, they service distinct geographic areas, or one goes much larger distances, rather than overlapping like ST & MT within King County. Perhaps the distinction works north/south towards Snohomish/Pierce counties, but on the Eastside of King County it just makes taking transit harder and more confusing, especially for the occasional rider who is likely also a voter. Why make transit more difficult for them?

      2. In general, the ST express buses only seem to be “express” in the sense that they travel primarily via highways. The 540 makes all the same local stops in the U-District as the 43. And it’s entirely in King County…

        Even the coaches themselves aren’t necessarily different. I’m sure you’ve all seen the 545 or 550 using Metro coaches. That’s got to be really confusing — it looks like a Metro bus, it sounds like a Metro bus, the driver is from Metro, but you can’t use a Metro day pass?

      3. I find King County Metro’s definition of “express” quaint to say the least. However, many transit systems used to follow a similar practice of not differentiating “limited stop” service from “express” service.

        I am guessing MT’s reason for not differentiating is that it doesn’t charge extra for an express bus, which is common on other systems. In 1989, when I first came to Seattle, I took a trip from downtown to Northgate Shopping Center. I couldn’t get over the fact that the 307 via I-5 wasn’t considered express, and the 305 via Eastlake (but with stop restrictions) *was*! I had a WTF moment before that became a common expression!

        Twin Cities Metro in the 1970s and early 1980s had “express” and “express-freeway” categories. “Express-freeway” incurred a 10 cent tax, however there was no rigid definition of what length of freeway running qualified, leaving some weird situations. In the late 1980s/early 1990s, “express” buses were gradually reclassified as “limited stop” and “express-freeway” as simply “express” (the express tax is now 50 cents off-peak and 75 cents peak). A further refinement was to formally define “express” as any route with a non-stop segment in excess of four miles. (Riders not using the express portion of the route don’t pay the tax, this has always been the case.)

        Even without charging an express tax, maybe KCM would benefit from using the “limited stop” category for buses like the 358. Now about letters to denote versions of routes….

    2. How confusing it must be for many passengers who bought a $4.50 Day Pass on a Metro bus to only be told by a Sound Transit bus driver in a METRO UNIFORM that his Day Pass is not good on his bus, and he has to come up with $2.50 to ride his bus.

      ST and Metro work so closely together, you would think they could integrate their fare structures and policies better.

  2. The most brilliant thing ever. It’s too bad purchasing a round trip Sounder/Link paper ticket will no longer work as an any-day, all-day pass. This was my old trick.

    TriMet’s day pass: $4.75. Good on all buses, streetcars, MAX, and WES. And theres a clearly labled button on the home screen of their TVM’s to get one. Zero confusion. The 12-year old boy who got off the Amtrak was able to figure it out before his parents.

    On another side note. It was sure nice being in Portland New Years Eve: free transit for all! Drank the New Year in at Rogue Brewery then caught the free, safe bus back to where I was staying. Sound Transit, Metro: where were the free buses and trains?

      1. Metro: downtown to downtown free
        ST: not free, even ran extra trains, but not free
        TriMet: downtown to anywhere TriMet serves free
        Chicago: All rides were $.01

  3. Perhaps it is time to do something like Oyster in London and a number of other fare cards do and implement a maximum daily fare with ORCA. Given all of the different regional fare structures something like the cost of the two most expensive unlinked trips or 2x the most expensive unlinked trip.

    Of course this would require CT, ET, MT, PT, and ST to all agree to implementing it (it should be all of the ORCA accepting agencies that also participate in Puget Pass just to avoid confusion).

    Also with ORCA implemented is there really any good reason for Kitsap Transit not to participate in the Puget Pass program?

    1. This seems like an excellent idea.

      I understand why this would be a bad idea for monthly passes — the transit agencies like to have a predictable revenue stream. But day pass purchases are hardly predictable.

      Really, now that we have ORCA, it seems like we should be able to do all sorts of cool fare options. For example, weekly passes. I’d imagine that these things are under consideration, but that the powers that be have decided that ORCA is confusing enough without changing the fare structure at the same time. But that’s just an uneducated guess.

    2. “Perhaps it is time to do something like Oyster in London and a number of other fare cards do and implement a maximum daily fare with ORCA.”

      Yes, yes, a million times yes. Why have they not done this yet? A maximum daily fare, day passes, week passes (for any 7 day period, not just Sunday-Saturday) are something that we really should have. ORCA makes it easy, so why don’t we have this yet?

      Certainly the maximum fare thing might have actually helped assuage some people’s ORCA concerns.

  4. Selling day passes at TVM’s would be cool, as would validity with all regional transit agencies. Oh, and what about making the day pass good for any day of the week, or even multiple days? I think there are a growing number of tourists and visitors who would just as soon not drive a car, and having a multi-day pass to get around town and the region would be convenient, rather than having to have exact fare all the time, or to worry about transfer issues.

    1. Don’t just sell it at a TVM, allow people to buy it online and load it onto an ORCA card – that allows use by people who don’t start near a TVM.

  5. Pierce Transit also has an all day weekend pass. It would be nice if you could ask the driver to charge your ORCA for an all day pass via e purse an then get unlimited transfers on that system on you ORCA for the day.

  6. It’s a miracle that anyone who visits the area figures out how to pay the right fare (and how to buy it).

    1. Really, that’s the whole point of ORCA. In an environment where you can’t synchronize fare structures, ORCA frees of you of the need to figure all of them out. It just deducts the appropriate fare. As long as you’re not cruising with $2 in your e-purse, you’re good to go.

      1. How quickly we forget around here. PugetPass hasent even been gone a full month yet its totally forgotten about. In my humble opinion, we have regressed with fare policy rather than progressed with ORCA for many reasons political and technical.

      2. PugetPass isn’t gone, it’s just contained on an ORCA card. The ORCA Regional Pass is valid on every transit service the PugetPass was.

      3. Metro’s weekend daypass was a PugetPass. That’s gone. The shortest PugetPass is now 30 days. There are people who would like a day or week pass.

      4. There are people who would like to know what the fare will be.

        Bellevue to Issaquah (12 miles): $1.50 on ST 555/556. $2.25 on MT 271 peak, $2.00 off peak.

        Bellevue to U-Dist (5 miles): $2.50 on ST 555/556. $2.75 on MT 271 peak, $2.00 off peak.

        Yes, ORCA makes payment easier. The fare structure, however, is a mess.

      5. No need, as those folks qualify for a RFP.

        On the other hand – I’m not sure that IQ and understanding of the fare system are correlated, as I’ve had people in business suits who can’t seem to figure it out. Add to that the fact that the fare boost has been advertised in the media, on buses, via pamphlet and onboard PA announcement for the better part of a year – and people are still surprised it’s happening.

        I don’t think that it’s IQ so much as what qualifies to be on folks’ radar screen.

      6. I didn’t read Martin’s comment that way, but rather a note that the Orca-inclusive fare system isn’t anymore complex than the old system. Part of ongoing (rational and logical) support for a unified regional fare system, of which Orca and orca-like technology will likely ultimately be a part.

        And most seniors I know are pretty sharp.

  7. A friend and I were wondering — if Metro drivers can sell day passes, couldn’t they also sell Orca cards with a preloaded bus fare?

    1. Since all passes have a unique identifying number and have to be activated at the point of sale, and currently there’s no such thing as pre-loaded Orca cards – I’d have to say offhand that the idea is impractical. Same reasons apply to why drivers don’t/haven’t sold monthly passes to date.

      1. It’s certainly possible to imagine that an ORCA card *could* be preloaded and preactivated. If nothing else, you could just go to a TVM and do it by hand, so I’m sure it could only be easier to do if you had access to the back-room ORCA systems.

        As far as weekdays: Sure, I can understand not wanting to do this during peak hours, or during this huge changeover period. I’m thinking more about out-of-towners, i.e. people who might not know that there is such a thing as ORCA until they get on the bus/train and don’t know how to pay. If the bus driver could say “pay $7, swipe this card, you’re good to go”, it could make things much easier for those folk.

    2. Better yet, why can’t Sound Transit do this since they don’t give out transfers anymore.

  8. Metro transfers are still legal tender on ST buses because it still says so on the back of Metro transfers. AND I QUOTE! …

    “This transfer entitles you to transfer to other Metro buses and the Lake Union Streetcar, Community Transit (CT), Pierce Transit (PT), or to Sound Transit’s Regional Express buses and Sounder Commuter ….”

    It also still says on the ST Express bus fare placards that Metro transfers are good for partial ST fare.

    If the bus driver gives you any lip, just show him the back of the transfer, which is a legal document.

    (I studied law at Yale).

    1. Sam,

      Metro has no jurisdiction to dictate what ST will or won’t accept. If I start selling scraps of paper that say “valid as a fare on Sound Transit buses”, are they legally required to take it?

      1. He’s wrong anyway. The new transfers are being printed with different language stating that the Metro issued transfer is good on Metro and the SLUS only.

  9. Sam,

    That’s the old transfer. New transfers (including the ones I used today) say they’re good on Metro only.

    Youc an file this one with your “it’s Metro policy not to run trolley buses on weekends” claim.

    If you studied law at “Yale”, surely you’re referring to the lock company.

  10. The Metro website has not yet been updated to reflect the changes to the Day Pass: “For $4.00 riders can take unlimited rides on Metro and use the pass for $1.75 toward fare payment on Community Transit, Pierce Transit, Everett Transit and Sound Transit.”

  11. TriMet has a more ethical Day Pass policy. A Day Pass from TriMet is valid for unlimited rides on buses, MAX, WES1 and the Streetcar.

    1. That’s because TriMet runs all those services. Now does the TriMet Day Pass work on C-Tran??

      1. The Tri-Met Day Pass costs $4.75 and works on all C-Tran routes except the premium fare express routes that run between Vancouver and Downtown Portland.

        A C-Tran Day Pass costs $6.00 (2x premium express fare) and is good on all C-Tran and all Tri-Met routes.

      2. And Metro “runs” all our services. Metro drivers operate Link, the SLUT, many ST Express routes. Also, Many ST buses are parked at Metro bases, serviced by Metro mechanics, cleaned by Metro employees, and monitored by Metro Supervisors. ST, in many regards, is a separate agency in name only, and they pay others do do the actual work. ST collects money, slaps some ST logos on buses and trains, then pays Metro to run everything.

  12. One part of this whole equasion that hasent been given much thought, is the fact that a lot of local service is now so tightly intergrated with ST provided services that the cash rider now has to pay twice as much, where in the past he would have had a transfer. It will be intresting to see how this affects ridership on ST Express and Metro lines, and if partnering transit agencys will have to offer duplicate service (with what money?) to offset the new transfer polcies in place. I realise that certain people here will say to use ORCA, but that issue has already been discussed on this board in prior threads.

  13. This may have been addressed in an earlier thread, but might an “ORCA day pass” be possible, valid regionwide on any service that accepts ORCA, if and when they start using cheap disposable media? That would really simplify things for visitors.

  14. Whenever I go to Reno, I like to take the bus to go to other casinos–why pay for the taxi when the main bus terminal is one block from my hotel?–and Reno Transit has made it really easy. I buy an all day/24 hour pass from the driver. I walk on, ask for a 24-hour pass, the driver hits a few buttons on the keypad and I drop in my money(its been about a year since I was there, so I forget how much it is). Out pops a piece of paper with a magnetic stripe on the back and the front is printed with an expiration time on it. It is valid for all trips at all costs. Sure, Reno Transit is smaller than Metro, but I figure with ORCA becoming the norm for people here, the driver could take the time to sell these kinds of passes for tourists. And Reno Transit has TVMs in the main transit hubs for people to buy the passes so even then, you don’t have to bother the driver for one. This could be the next step in ORCA, some sort of temporary pass that could be bought for a day, week, or some other chosen timeframe(two-day, 10-day, etc).

    If anyone reading this blog is involved with Metro, Sound Transit, or ORCA in any way, I recommend a short trip to Reno to try it!

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