ST Express Proposed Changes
Changes to ST Express bus fare.

Beginning on June 1st, there are no longer three separate fare zones in King County for Sound Transit Express buses; all King County trips are now one price, with a higher fare only for trips that cross a county line.

The youth and senior/disabled fares are, broadly speaking, going down. In another change for ST Express buses, if you’re using a medicare card as proof of age, you have until June 11th to get yourself a Regional Reduced Fare Permit, or to simply your life and get the ORCA version.

25 Replies to “ST Express Fares are Changing”

  1. Nice and simple. Most people know if they’re travelling between counties. But understanding zone boundries is not something people should have had to think about.

    If this were an urban bus I’d ask for lower short-distance trip fares or even distance-based fares, but since ST is really an inter-county agency I won’t complain.

    1. Glad to see they’re bumping the price a bit, too. Diesel prices have to be hurting ST Express, and riders are still getting a bargain on intercity and intercounty travel.

  2. Despite my aversion to express/node-based networks (built around transit centers and little else), Sound Transit gets an unequivocal +1 for simplicity, legibility, and all-around better service for fares that are actually lower than Metro’s on an apples-to-apples basis.

    Sound Transit: offering you more for less!
    Metro: offering you less for more!

  3. Glad I no longer live in Snohomish County part of Bothell, as I used to ride ST535 from the Canyon Park freeway station to the next freeway exit at UWB/CCC campus, which is located in the King County portion of Bothell.

  4. Now LINK fares need to be simplifed, and adheare to the RFA, or the RFA eliminated entirely.

      1. It costs different to ride Link then it does to ride buses. Also, Link charges fares in the Ride Free Area while the buses don’t. Both of those things lead to unnecessary confusion.

      2. The RFA issue is an problem, although not a big one to my mind — ST doesn’t seem to enforce ticketing in the tunnel, and sooner or later, either the RFA will die or ST will kick the buses out of the tunnel and then they could simply define the tunnel out of the RFA.

        But I don’t see why we must have uniform train and bus fares. The cost structure for these two services is different, as is the method of payment (tap in and out) which allows distance-based fares that more closely track the burden a user imposes on the system. We don’t need to sacrifice this to make the slavishly obey some ideal of uniform pricing.

      3. Link is different from a bus. It makes sense that it would have a different cost. In all honesty I’d like to see distance based fares on buses too.

        I agree that the RFA difference can lead to confusion.

      4. Metro and ST could remove the tunnel from the RFA easily (if the City allows it), since there are no coupled routes in the tunnel.

        Indeed, this would help a little with tunnel traffic since this would remove the financial disincentive for intra-tunnel Link trips. When riders let Link pass to use the next bus for an intra-tunnel trip, that bus takes a couple seconds or so longer (or maybe a minute if someone needs a lift).

        This is very low-hanging fruit for chiseling away at the RFA, pickup up a few more Link riders, and cutting travel time through the DSTT.

      5. @ Brent
        that is if only they keep the “pay as you leave”, otherwise tunnel traffic will definitely be worse even if everyone has an ORCA. This is solved with off-board payment, however.

      6. Ah, but then you run into the issue of different fares – the Orca reader on the platform has no idea how many zones you’ve crossed or if you took the bus or the train, etc.

      7. Install an ORCA reader at each DSTT bus bay, color-coordinated and shape-coordinated to be different than the train ORCA readers. Each bay has buses of one zone-type. Then, make the tunnel POP, and the remaining portion of the outbound routes pay-as-you-enter once the buses exit the tunnel. Give the tunnel security guards ORCA readers to add to their arsenal of clipboards.

        If someone gets off in zone one on a two-zone bus, they’d still need to tap out to get their refund.

        This would save a lot of deboarding time on various express tunnel buses — which is to say, most of the tunnel buses — on the other end of those routes. The saved operating time would hopefully pay for the cost of installing the extra ORCA readers and issuing readers to the guards, over the course of the next ten years.

        Also, make the DSTT a no-cash zone. If someone wants to pay cash, they can go up to the TVM, and pay cash for an ORCA card. It would be one additional tool to get those who have been putting this off to succumb to the Power and Will of the One Regional Card for All.

        A plan like this, or something similar, will have to be done anyway, so that the RFA can be eliminated upstairs.

  5. The following was on the Sound Transit website also:

    Changes to Link light rail fares
    Starting June 1, 2011, adult Link fares will rise 25 cents. Link tickets for adults will start with a base fare of $2.00 and add five cents to the base fare for every mile of your trip. See the chart >

    Starting June 1, 2011, all youth Link fares will become $1.25, for all one-way trips on Link light rail.

    All reduced Link fares will remain 75 cents, for all one-way trips on Link light rail.

    1. “Link tickets for adults will start with a base fare of $2.00 and add five cents to the base fare for every mile of your trip.”

      They forgot to say “rounded to twenty-five cents”.

    2. Of course, an off-peak pass still covers the entire fare between downtown and Rainier Beach, so this change mercifully has no effect on most riders.

  6. I’m sorry, I’m confused here… this is for Sound Transit, but not for King County Metro? I don’t see a listing for Peak Fare changes here either… so my hope is I don’t need to buy a new buss pass this year :)

  7. Seems to me that with ORCA cards we should be going in the opposite direction.

    Fares can be granular based on usage.

    For example, I sometimes want to use Metro to take my bike up Kent East Hill…a few miles. However, I don’t think I’d want to pay full county fare.

    It seems that there are a lot of calls now to make automobiles pay by usage for insurance, usage.

    Transit should be the same…the more/less you use the more/less you pay.

  8. Matt: would not the chip in the card “know” its recent tapping?

    Bruce: for ST to kick buses out of DSTT, they would have to buy it first; note that most ST services in KC are run by Metro, including Link.

    With this good and simpler fare restructure for ST, is it time for Metro to restructure fares in the same way? Would the following be more fair and work better with ORCA? Yes, change is difficult and will be bad for some.

    end the RFA; pay upon entry in both directions; inspect at cordon around CBD; end both zone and peak surcharges. have three levels of bus routes each with a fare level: base fare for all two-way local routes no matter how long; second higher level for RapidRide and one subarea one-way routes at the level of the ST one-county fare (examples, A line, Route 301); and, third highest fare for two-subarea one-way peak-only routes at the level of the two-county ST routes (examples, routes 218 and 177). Drivers would set each route’s farebox for the appropriate fare; they would not have to push buttons for ORCA riders wanting to take a one-zone trip on a route with a two-zone pre-set (e.g., Routes 255, 358). inspection improves security and speed.

    Consider Luk’s issue. It is imposed on more riders of local routes today: Route 120 betweem Delridge and Burien; Shoreline to NTC. A friend suggested the following to me. at the cost of simplicity, routes 535 and 574 could have flexible fare lines around Bothell and Federal Way, respectively. Riders on Route 535 would pay lower one-county fare to to to Bothell from either county but pay two-county fare to go farther. likewise, Route 574 riders could pay one-county fare for trips to and from Federal Way, but two-county fare for longer trips. alternatively, Route 574 could be charged the lower one-county fare at all times as a slower multi-stop route.

    Is it tiime to charge for parking stalls at full P&R? That could be on ORCA as well. Could we have day passes or discounts on e-purse trips?

    1. RapidRide is not a “premium” service; it’s the main route to those areas and we want to encourage it, not discourage it. The same goes for Link. Otherwise you get people taking the obscure local routes because they cost less.

      1. Then, can ST start charging Metro a premium for bringing bus routes into the tunnel when those routes could be truncated to serve RBS or UWS? (We’ll charge ya twice as much for each 71, 72, 73, 74, 76, 101, 102, 150, 255, and 316 that comes through the tunnel!)

        … the way Metro overcharges ST for use of its bases?

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