1960 Monorail Concept (Posted by Rob Ketcherside)

107 Replies to “News Roundup: Transfer Fraud”

    1. Trust me, these vans are bad news. Those of us who looked at the prototype picked out just about every problem that has come to light. The exhaust infiltration issue is just icing on the cake.

      1. Can’t say that they ever asked me, but I’m not on the procurement committee. I also don’t know what issues drivers & mechanics on the procurement committee picked up on so I can’t say for sure that Metro heard the info. But if they had asked me… ;)

      2. Velo,

        A couple questions related to procurement:

        1) Are all newly-ordered buses equipped with one or more rear-facing wheelchair slots?
        2) Does Metro have a timeline for replacing the trolley fleet that has already reached “the end of its useful life”?

        Thanks in advance for whatever scoop you can offer.

      3. Oh, I forgot to ask about paratransit vans: Is Metro taking a look at the various low-floor models that are on the market?

      4. Regarding trolley replacement, there’s a lot of info here. The short answer to your question is that replacements are supposed to start arriving in 2014 assuming the budget is approved. If I remember right the bidding process starts next year.

      5. My understanding from conversations within the union are that the buses were purchased without any substantive input from either drivers or vehicle maintenance workers, and what feedback was provided was ignored until after purchase and delivery.

        IMO, some of the hubub about these vans (they’re used in other municipalities without similar controversy) is payback from the union for that “oversight”. While some issues are real – many are eggagerated.

  1. It might be a good idea to discounte the paper teansfer just like CT and ST did. Most riders have a ORCA card with a pass or E-Purse. For those that need a bus ticket, let it be for =one= single ride. Having no paper transfers will cut down on fraud.

    1. Watch out for perverse incentives. You might think that this scheme would encourage ORCA use, but it’s just as possible that people will end up paying cash twice. In addition to adding delays, it would reinforce the distaste many people have for transferring, and reinforce the bias towards one-seat rides.

      1. I have an idea.

        When those people show up to complain that the loss of their one-seat ride will require them to pay the cash fare twice, we tell them to shut the fuck up and get an ORCA.

        Bowing to the lowest common denominator is the perverse incentive.

        (p.s. Bumbershoot weekend always leaves me convinced that the cash fare should be $5. With no transfers. People who take minutes to find two bills and a coin lose their right to subsidized transit at the expense of those who paid quickly.)

      2. Also, Aleks, you know as well as I do that the day the T eliminated all non-CharlieCard transfers was the day 97% of eastern Massachusetts got CharlieCards.

      3. Yeah, I’m with d.p. on this one, although I’d tone the rhetoric down a notch or two. Driving Sound Transit has convinced me that the vast majority will convert with a little incentive. I frequently get passengers at BTC who ask for a transfer. I tell them ST doesn’t issue them but that there is another bus 10 minutes behind me and a vending machine over there [ picture a handsome bus driver pointing to the ORCA TVM ]. Many take the opportunity to get a card.

        Now, if I can just figure out how to convince the habitually slow cash payers who don’t care about a transfer to get an ORCA card…

      4. Now, if I can just figure out how to convince the habitually slow cash payers who don’t care about a transfer to get an ORCA card…

        $5 cash fares.

        Even if they insist on paying cash, now it’s just one bill.

      5. Do these things when it’s easy for everyone to get an ORCA card. There are only two places in the entire county for youth and seniors to get ORCA cards and they have to go with official ID during business hours. And there are still not enough places for regular adults to get ORCA cards.

      6. I’m with d.p. on this one, too, sans the ‘tude.

        If people come to a meeting to oppose a route reorganization proposal because they want to preserve their one-seat ride, have someone there with a stack of ORCA, and distribute them for free, as a token of appreciation for coming to the meeting.

        They may still insist on their one-seat ride, but at least we’ll have eliminated the fare structure as a reason for their insistence.

      7. d.p.: There’s a major difference between here and Boston, which is that the MBTA was *already set up* as a connection-based system. There were no bizarre one-seat bus rides. There were no riders who would organize an entire campaign to save an *empty bus*.

        I hate it as much as you do, but Seattle doesn’t yet understand the concept of a transit *system*.

        I’m 100% down with changing the cash fare to $5. I think that would be fantastic. But I also think that getting rid of transfers, without first changing the system (or making ORCA much easier to get), just isn’t going to work as well as you hope. (Not least because you know as well as I do that Metro is not about to tell anyone to shut the fuck up.)

        Velo: There’s a big difference between ST and Metro, which is that most ST transfer points have TVMs. In contrast, Metro probably has two orders of magnitude more transfer points, and even the major ones don’t have TVMs.

        I think Brent’s idea is a great one. Another possibility, which I’ve long advocated, is simply having drivers sell ORCA cards rather than transfer slips. Every bus just needs to keep a stack of ORCAs, preloaded with the maximum Metro fare cost. If someone asks for a transfer, the driver tells them to put in $5, gives them a card, and has them tap it. Voila, now every bus is a TVM on wheels.

      8. “There are only two places in the entire county for youth and seniors to get ORCA cards and they have to go with official ID during business hours.”

        Metro visits the Bellevue Senior Center periodically, and I assume other senior centers too.

      9. Orca NEEDS TO BE FREE.

        No system has ever been successful at getting universal adoption of a fare medium which has a SURCHARGE just for getting it.

        Refundable deposit is the most you can possibly get away with and get universal adoption.

      10. Indeed. London’s Oyster requires a “refundable” deposit of £3/$5.

        Not that anyone ever refunds it, because that’s about how much you save on a single trip vs the cash fare!

      11. I agree with discontinuing the paper transfer if the orca infrastructure is improved. Simply put more retail outlets, orca tvms at all major transit facilities, and phone support and customer offices that are open most of the day everyday. Would cost a lot more for the cards bback end, but the publics perception would be greatly improved, and fraud with transfers eliminated with the elimination of the transfer.

  2. Metro, in my opinion, makes it so easy to commit transfer fraud that they are almost asking for it. Take the paper transfer tickets, for example. There’s no date printed on them, which means they can be saved and reused. And while it would be wasteful to have the current day’s date printed on them, why not at least have the month and year printed on them in large type? Or at least the quarter or season and year? I’ve counted six transfer colors, and around that many letters. So let’s say there are 36 combinations. All one has to do is collect a month’s worth of transfers, take good care of them, then you don’t have to pay another fare for what … five years? Or another solution would be make a transfer good for not only a short period of time, but it’s good for only one use, so the the rider, after showing it, then has to hand it to the driver or put it in the farebox, if it will take it.

    1. “Metro, in my opinion, makes it so easy to commit transfer fraud that they are almost asking for it”

      I completely agree. From the inside, especially knowing we can be disciplined for receiving complaints from fare evaders, the system sure looks stacked to make it easy for them.

      That said, all the studies I’ve seen show that fare evasion system-wide is a relatively small portion of the revenue. Costs to chase that last bit of revenue may not be worth it. RapidRide, however, is different. When we don’t have security on board the policy is the same. BUT, when security is on board and somebody asks for a free ride we are instructed to say, in a *loud and clearly audible* voice, “I’m sorry, but I can’t allow you to ride for free. The fare is ” – or something along those lines.

      That makes me believe the whole enforcing fare issue really is about not putting us into a dangerous position and trying to cut down on driver assaults. Can’t wait to try that out ;)

      For what it’s worth…

      1. Complaints from fare evaders? Geez, Metro is losing it.

        Next time a driver stands up to a cheat, I’m going to send in a commendation (though not for that specifically, in case Metro retalliates – I’ll just say it was a very professional driver).

      2. I’ve called in commendations for fare enforcement officers, as well. Some of the scam artists think they can walk all over them.

      3. I’ve had at least 2 complaints for customers simply because I asked to see their pass – in one case a customer complained that I “harassed” her because I pointed out that she was using an off-peak pass for a peak ride and owed the difference.

        Metro has a policy that disciplines drivers for engaging in “fare disputes” – but doesn’t identify what a “fare dispute” is. It appears that in practice, it’s anything remotely fare-related that pisses someone off enough to make a phone call (or online submission) to customer service.

    2. Transfers are re-used/recycled so any date imprinting would eliminate (mostly) that minor savings.

      Getting rid of them entirely a-la ST is the best solution.

  3. Instead of worrying about transfer fraud, why don’t we just make it easier for low income people — which I’m guessing includes the overwhelming majority of people without fixed addresses and the majority of people who misuse transfers — to get free or subsidized bus passes (on orca cards so usage can be tracked)? It seems far more efficient than having human services agencies handing out limited supplies of physical (!) bus tickets.

      1. A poor person shouldn’t have to cheat their way into being labeled “disabled” to get a bus pass and gain basic mobility.

      2. Rachel,

        No matter how loudly Seattleites protest their “progressiveness,” what you are actually witnessing is the logical endpoint of the Republican plan for the public sector. The wealthy are insulated from any responsibility for a functioning society — only regressive funding mechanisms are available, and as you can’t squeeze blood from a stone, there is never enough money around to do all that would be fair and just, or to do anything well.

        Yes, it would be great if the unemployed or those in poverty could pay a discount fare. This is, in fact, quite common in Western Europe. But the money doesn’t exist to implement such a program (and never will be, per the above public-service-choking cycle).

        It is not an acceptable solution to continue to allow some poor people to scam their way out of the fare, while the rest of the poor keep paying fares double in half a decade. That’s what I call a perverse incentive!

      3. I checked the requirements for the RRFP, and it doesn’t seem like the bar is set that low to me. And if you don’t have an obvious physical disability, you need to have your disability certified by a medical professional (which presumably many will not be able to afford).

      4. I’ve heard about complaints from human service agencies about the high administrative costs of giving out ORCA cards (for which the agencies have to pay the county $3 in addition to whatever they pay for the loaded value). They much prefer to give out “vouchers” (by which I think they mean tickets). As taxpayers, we pay those administrative costs, whether the line item says “transit” or “human services”.

        I’d like to know if Metro has actually costed out the creation of a low-income RRFP category, using basic criteria for which it is easy to determine whether the applicant qualifies or not. Of course, with the “low-income” category, it would have to be a temporary status, meaning the administrative cost is much higher per passenger than, say, senior pass qualification, which is one and done.

        I’d also like to know how most human services agencies would feel about replacing the ticket program with a low-income RRFP.

      5. d.p.-
        Of course there is never enough money to go around for everything but we won’t make our society a place we can be proud of by wringing our hands and blaming those “evil Republicans”. It is not just how our current transit system operates and we should say so (and vote for policies that will get us closer). Reducing transfer fraud doesn’t make the system more just except in a negative sense: everyone is screwed equally. “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich and the poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.” 

      6. Rachael,

        I basically agree with you. But I know you’re pretty new to the blog; are you new to Seattle?

        Our fares have nearly doubled in the past five years. Literally. $1.25/$1.50 in-city has become $2.25/$2.50 in-city since I moved here in 2006.

        That’s a pretty heftily regressive penalty we’ve applied to the poor people who play by the rules. I think it adds insult to their injury to condone transfer fraud on the part of their less scrupulous neighbors.

        Also, while I too have heard that “outright” fare evasion (blatantly walking on or off without paying) amounts to only a tiny slice of our budget woes, “soft” fare evasion (extending transfers beyond their intended life, and shenanigans like transfer re-sale and hoarding) has been said to cost the agency a great deal more, enough that it should not be as readily ignored.

        (Not to mention the psychological damage that widespread fraud does to the sense of the public transit system is functional, safe, and a valuable public service and worthwhile investment for all segments of society.)

    1. I’ll never forget one time, probably twenty years ago, I was standing in the tunnel, waiting for my bus, when a sedan full of uneasy looking middle-aged ladies came through, followed not long after by a Metro security car.

    2. Raiders of the Lost Arc style boulders, triggered by illegal entry. On the other end a stone wall will slowly drop as aligator-infested water is poured into the tunnel. There will be motion-sensored guided machine guns mounted at each exit, and the ventilation system will introduce poison gas.

      1. [Oran] Please tell me you were referencing The Lift. Only a horror movie about an elevator gone psyco can beat a killer transit tunnel gone psyco. (yes, you’re probably referencing 2001, but who knows)

    3. There are already “physical deterrents” in the form of pretty substantial security barriers. The problems occur when a car (usually at the IDS entrance) follows a bus through the lowered barrier.

      The current procedure is for Link Control to ask a bus leading an intruder vehicle to hold at the barrier (even if its lowered) to block entry.

      The I-90 ramp bypasses the guard shack at Royal Brougham, part of the confusion for the occasional motorist who strays down the tunnel ramp.

  4. The Waterfront park literature mentions a slow, 4 lane road. All tunnel mock-ups I’ve seen seem to show three lanes in each direction north of the south portal. Is there any good indication as to which of the design ideas is going to win out?

      1. I think the biggest question is where is the “typical” cross section for? Is this just for around the West Edge neighborhood or does this also include the area south of there along the edge of Pioneer Square.

        I honestly don’t think anyone knows yet what this will look like and I forsee some debate between WSDOT/SDOT/DPD and the design team, especially with regards to the the NB travel lanes south of roughly Yesler as well at left turn lanes for SB travel at one way streets leading into Downtown.

    1. A slow four-lane road through the waterfront park? When you put it that way the project reminds me of the Wacker Drives in Chicago (running along the Chicago River, skirting the core of the Loop). The lower level was supposed to be for deliveries to the service levels of Loop buildings, and the upper level was supposed to be for leisurely riverfront drives, basically a slow, quiet “road in a park” for the “city in a park”. As with all the city’s Boulevards, anyone that’s spent much time in Chicago knows how that turned out. The upper level, due to being just about the widest regular surface street downtown, is a major distributor with very heavy traffic during commute hours and throughout the day (it’s quiet at night, like the rest of the Loop). The lower level is a semi-freeway bypass from LSD to the Ike, with totally insane downtown exits, and a 35 MPH speed limit observed by nobody.

      We’ll see just how the DBT and waterfront park end up being adapted. The geography is a lot different than Wacker’s, and the times are different, and the plans are different (just with some interesting similarities), so I’m not saying their fates are tied together or something cheesy like that.

      1. with totally insane downtown exits

        Amen to that. They make the Columbia Street Viaduct on-ramp look positively safe in comparison.

        But Lower Wacker was the setting of my favorite movie car chase of all time, so I can’t complain too much.

      2. Which car chase was that? I know the Batman chase was set there… My favorite is the Blues Brothers car chase, which, IIRC, uses the Lake Street L.

        (More to the point, I think it’s unlikely that any four-lane road through the park will actually be slow. They’re just sticking that in there to appease people that want to believe the park will be “nice”, and people like me that don’t want more fast roads downtown. It’ll get used by people that used to use the Viaduct’s downtown exits, and they’ll drive it as fast as they can get away with. If it was really going to be a slow road it would have two narrow lanes with sharrows down the middle of each… Maybe when the artist’s vision fades a little bit there could be streetcar tracks on the inside lanes…)

      3. That’s the underground street? I thought it was part of Michigan Street because I was walking there when I discovered it. I couldn’t figure out what this weird underground street was for since it didn’t (at that moment) have more than a couple cars and I didn’t see any mall entrances or anything.

    2. By “slow” they probably just mean it’s not a freeway, not that it would be slower than, say, Rainier.

  5. Since this is the Seattle Transit Blog, let’s focus on the transit plans for the project, which can be summed up like this: The park’s chief designer has decided there’s no room for any transit at all. And every other type of motorized wheeled vehicle will spend most of its time standing still.

    Including fire trucks and ambulances.

    “Then, moving westward, will come four lanes of slow traffic, stopping at most intersections, another little island of green, a two-way bike path, another little buffer of green and trees, and then finally a rather constricted main walkway along the seawall and extending a bit out onto the pier aprons. Note: no waterfront trolley. That would make this corridor too crowded, so the trolley or streetcar will probably migrate up to First Avenue instead.”

    For much of the length of the Waterfront, First Avenue is separated from the shore by three blocks linear and several stories vertical distance. Using First Avenue for linear Waterfront transportation is the same as deciding a new skyscraper is too crowded for elevators and expecting people to use elevators in another building three blocks away, with skybridges and aerial stairways to connect.

    “Probably”? What if the First Avenue streetcar doesn’t materialize? First is very likely “too crowded”, and Pioneer Square merchants won’t part with parking even for rush hour. Second would “probably” work better- and be completely useless for the Waterfront.

    As per my recent posting, this isn’t about restoration of a museum streetcar line as a carnival ride. It’s about the transit artery required by a long, narrow part of the city which if it works as designed will be very crowded. For this use, I think electric streetcars work best. If the old cars don’t fit this particular service, put them elsewhere. They’re not the issue here.

    Before planning for the Waterfront project goes any farther,it’s time for an organized group of transit professionals to draft a plan for the following: a two-way transit corridor running the length of the Waterfront project, and connecting to the rest of the transit system- reserved entirely for transit and emergency vehicles.

    And be prepared to formally and politely request a justly-respected architect and his employers to have their plan include the one element presently needed to make it workable. Thanks for the Crosscut article on the Waterfront. Sorry I missed the walk. It won’t happen again. Whoever thinks I’m right, I’d appreciate some company.

    Mark Dublin

      1. I agree — as someone who actually works on the Waterfront and has a pretty solid idea what a hike it is to First Avenue from large portions of it.

      2. [Bruce] You’re a transit purist, and I respect that. A waterfront trolley will have only a single-sided walkshed. Little commute ridership. And probably a few other flaws. But I think serving tourists well should be a very important goal for our region. There’s the money side (tourism is a strong importer of cash to our region), but for other reasons as well. Self image. Maintaining our brand (example: a productive inventor is choosing between a job in Portland and Seattle, and had a great time when visiting Seattle). And because we are all tourists, and having one more fun destination benefits everyone in the state.

        Not that a waterfront trolley will bring all of these things. But stranding tourists at the bottom of a hill for the sake of a few service hours doesn’t seem like we’re working in the right direction. I’m not sure what the farebox recovery would be for a functioning, frequent waterfront trolley, but it’s significant that the monorail is one of the few profitable transit systems in the US.

        (of course you could probably distract me from this fight by suggesting we place a station or two from a gondola system at the waterfront instead)

      3. This might seem like a very right leaning idea but why not have the businesses that benefit from the waterfront streetcar pay for it’s operation? I’d say run it up to Seattle Center and you’d have a pretty large net for drawing in tourists. I don’t know what operating costs would be but there’s a lot of money in the waterfront and possibly even more when they get that noisy flying road out of there. Since most of the traffic using it would be paying tourists spending money in waterfront businesses it only makes sense. If we ask the businesses and they don’t want a train that connects with Sounder, Link Light Rail, The First Hill Street Car and the Monorail then we don’t put it in. But if I were a business there I’d be willing to listen.

      4. [Grant] Like this? It’s not clear who would pay to run the thing or even rebuild it, but when looking for money it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to start with the names on that report.

      5. I too found those comments about “not enough room” to be totally ridiculous when you add up that currently there is a wide sidewalk, 4 lanes of traffic, a single track, a walking trail, and then a 4 lane viaduct along most of the waterfront.

        With the viaduct gone, (that’s 4 lanes of space) how can there be “not enough space” to add either another track, or replace the existing single track, ie move it slightly to allow for a center median?

        Someone isn’t measuring up here.

        And a 1st Street transit system, is NOT a replacement for anything running along Alaska way. It’s like 100ft up in the air away from where tourists and the ferry is.

      6. @Matt, thanks. I knew it had been done.

        So Seattle Times says they had 400,000 people per year riding it and that operational costs are $2m. That’s cheaper than the Link to operate and that includes two paid employees on the train. And if each passenger is worth $5 in operating costs and a (any) business on the waterfront makes $5 from that passenger it’s paid for itself. It seems like a no brainer…

      7. When the Benson Line was running I don’t think it every did better than 18% farebox recovery. Metro is shooting for 25% average so this would certainly drag it down. And is just operational cost. It doesn’t include the debt to pay for restoring the track, overhead and maintenance barn or the personnel to maintain vintage vehicles. I think Metro should try to find a new owner for them. Maybe MOHAI would be interested. Gifting the trollies could perhaps offset some of the money promised to mitigate the move from Montlake; although City of Seattle, not Metro it holding the tab on that.

      8. Also remember that the Waterfront Streetcar was named one of the 10 best tram/streetcar rides in the world by National Geographic. That is pretty damn high praise.

        We spend a heck of a lot more capital funds and in ongoing support for tourist destinations and amenities than restoring the Waterfront Streetcar would cost.

    1. Please understand that by “The Project”, I mean plans referred to in the Crosscut article. Thanks, Martin, for posting it.

      Mark Dublin

    2. I think the designer should be required to work at an “office” located adjacent to Victor Steinbruck Park but be required to walk down from First Ave. to get there each morning and back up each night. If he takes a bus or car down Virginia or tries to pop in along Western he shall be fired immediately. That is all. :D

      1. So that would take him or her about about three minutes and 45 seconds by my reckoning. Possibly another minute or two if they were in a wheelchair and had to use the public elevator available near that staircase.

      2. Adjacent to Steinbrueck? Try adjacent to Pier 70 or the Edgewater. Try the Art Institute’s Alaskan Way entrance, or the Victoria Clipper. That’s a heck of a hike. Sure, it can be done, but it’s not something that tourists like, say, my mom are going to be willing to do. (Not to mention the unfriendly pedestrian crossings on some of the streets in that area, though some of those appear to be being worked on right now.)

      3. The waterfront trolley or a replacement for such has to stay, period. I think the one improvement would be to make it connect at both ends. Let’s say tourists come into town, see Pike Place Market, take the Monorail to Seattle Center and when done there take the waterfront trolley down the hill to the waterfront. They eat dinner, there, take the trolley to Pioneer Square for art galleries then the Link back to Westlake. Complete the circle folks and add a day pass. If you make it easy hotels would pass out day passes.

    3. A frequent north-south route must be part of the plan, but we don’t have to be too dug-in on what mode it should be. I’d prefer a streetcar if it’s easy to obtain and doesn’t divert money from other streetcar routes, or a trolleybus otherwise.

    4. Yes, the waterfront needs transit. I’d prefer a heritage streetcar line (like SF did along the Embarcadero) but at the very least there needs to be a bus line with bus lanes.

  6. Denver’s new Union Station featuring a big new Apple Store :

    Maybe Apple can be King Street’s first tenant after the remodel, considering this and Grand Central in nyc.

    I’m also thinking whoever made this video has the same composer as WSDOT.

      1. I thought there was an entire floor reserved for retail. Maybe that’d be a restaurant though.

        Just a thought. I’d at least like one in the area.

    1. I don’t know why anyone would want an Apple store in King Street Station. How many times a day to do I want to buy an iphone? I may eat a meal, buy a newspaper or pick up a pastry and some fruit every single day though. I think London and Paris train stations are good models.

    2. It’s not about what you want or passengers want, it’s about visibility for Apple, and enticing you every day to take just a few steps into the store to buy something. And it’s about making Apple look hip with the creative-class transit-riding crowd. Wherever I’ve seen a significant number of shops at a train station, the closest one is always a large bookstore/newsstand with some groceries and travel necessities. So don’t think they’ll neglect that.

  7. About the transfer fraud issue….

    Is there really a moral/ethical difference between a cheap-ass transit rider who commits bus transit fraud, and a sharpie auto driver who uses a high tech devices (or scoops and similar shared information) to avoid the cops and exceed posted speed limits by 15 MPH or more?

    I think that the cheap-ass rider costs Metro some revenue, and cheeses off drivers and other other riders. But the speeder sharpie probably cheeses off more people, and also poses more of an actual hazard on the open road. Are there other differences between these sorts of behavior?

    1. They’re both undesirable behavior. They’re undesirable for different reasons. I don’t really see why we need to compare them.

    2. The speeder is more likely to harm the wino than vice versa. (And yet, people seem to be more afraid of the wino.)

  8. I love Real Change! When I see a new issue, I give the vendor $2, as they otherwise don’t make much money for their hard work.

    One of the points in the article defending bus tickets was how much the burden on poor riders would be increased by eliminating the RFZ.

    Getting past the emotionalism, I think those who need a free ride could actually end up with a better situation *if* we have routes that they’ll recognize easily as being free within the zone, and if they are consistently free in that zone 24/7. (As most of you know, my suggestion is the RapidRide buses, which are quite distinctly branded. If not them, then some set of easily-distinguished buses that are only inbound, but run all day.)

    As it is, there are far more than enough free options half the day, and no free options at all the other half. Reducing the options half the day to merely very frequent, and only on 3rd Ave, in exchange for providing almost as frequent options the rest of the day and throughout the weekend, ought to be a welcome improvement for those unable to pay any fare at all.

    1. Fare enforcement for the homeless? What are we going to do, spend $$$ locking them up for failing to pay $2 for a bus ride? That’s a stupid use of our money.

      Better to hand out limited time orca cards.

      1. No need for limited-time cards. A card with a preloaded e-purse credit has the same effect, and avoids the waste of cards being thrown away. (But to really avoid people throwing them away, they’d have to recharge the card at a subsidized rate rather than handing out another card.)

  9. As to the other big thing human service agencies want in the fare payment system (to be able to give out free tickets), I’m fine with that.

    Then, we can exclude these tickets from a cash surcharge, so that those who can afford to pay the surcharge get charged (at least until they do the math and finally decide to start using ORCA), and those who can’t don’t.

  10. In the Netherlands, off-board payment is the norm. There’s a public-transit card that you load money onto, and this card is accepted by all transit agencies (including the national rail service). It’s very handy that one card lets you pay for any sort of transit you want (metro, tram, bus, national rail service).

    These cards replaced the previous “strippenkaart” system, where you bought a ticket and then validated a certain number of strips based on your journey. Transfers are easy between modes, with the system automatically calculating any incremental fare. Cash payments are allowed, but are €2,60 per ride, rather than around €1. I really don’t understand why Seattle is so special that a system like this can’t work there. It works even better in a region like Puget Sound with multiple agencies, because one method of payment covers them all. No confusion about how to pay different modes.

    Another added bonus is that all fare enforcement is on people other than the driver. All-door boarding/disembarking is easy, and drivers can focus on driving rather than fare enforcement.

    It really isn’t that difficult – why can’t Seattle get it right?

    1. In at least a defense of transit agency staff, I’ll point out that (a) ORCA has been around a little over two years; (b) We’re less than a month away from go-live on Husky Card, moving a little over ten percent of boardings from the flash-pass portion of the pie chart (See the Real Change article) to the ORCA portion of the pie chart (not that this has anything at all to do with reducing cash fumbling, but Metro likes to point this out if you write to them about the cash fumblers); (c) We have a very strong lobby for making transit affordable for the poor, kinda like San Francisco; and (d) We have too many politicians who drive and don’t put much attention span to their role in using the fare payment system to drive transit system efficiencies, but are willing to increase social service provision on the backs of the general ridership, as long as car drivers aren’t impacted.

      But in defense of the politicians, JF has that blind spot, too.

      So, let me ask, who all has written to the transit agencies or their elected officials, and asked that the fare be increased for those who choose to pay with cash? And who has gotten an answer back?

    2. Some commenters have said that Metro’s top priority right now is reorganizing routes, which will increase the number of transfers. It doesn’t want to do anything that increases resistance to this change and provoke one-seat ride activists. So it’s deprioritizing ORCA adoption and eliminating paper transfers for now. (Especially given that paper transfers have a longer expiration time, which is particularly important to the poor.) So it’s a tradeoff between public support for better routes vs universal ORCA. In that case, I’ll take the better routes now and universal ORCA later, thanks.

      1. There are certainly problems with the program of selling ORCA to human service agencies, who then hand them out for free. The agencies don’t like having to pay $3 a card. They don’t like having to track all the recipients, from what I’ve heard, which is an even more burdensome administrative expense.

        And then, there is way too little incentive to keep the card, for those who only ride on Metro. Until Metro gives ORCA intrinsic value (through a cash surcharge or other mechanism), we should expect lots of ORCA to end up in the landfill, as a law of economics.

        A cash premium shouldn’t cause any additional resistance to route reorganization. Just like now, paper transfers would still be free, so the total cost of a two-seat trip using cash should be the same as the total cost of a one-seat trip using cash.

      2. I’m definitely in favor of adding a cash surcharge, decreasing the ORCA fixed cost, etc. I just don’t want to eliminate transfers, for the reasons Mike explained.

  11. Here’s a policy question for operators or RRFP users: If you use an RRFP as a flash pass to then pay the reduced fare in cash, do you get a full-value paper transfer?

  12. Very late SR520 contractor will get a break on fines.

    Who makes this decision? The State AGs from WA, LA and FL should file a class action suit and force the company into Chapter 11 with the states holding 100% of the stock in the reorganized company. Remember, the Tacoma Narrows system was working just fine until ETC took over. The State is contractually bound to repay the company that financed the new Narrows and this tolling snafu is costing tax pays dearly in financing for 520.

  13. “Temporary, piddling construction mitigation funds for transit during DBT construction won’t even do that. State is thinking about dumping this state responsibility on Metro.”

    Is that even legal?

    In Massachusetts, they tried to pull that with the Big Dig. The legally required mitigations were made the MBTA’s responsibility — which they got away with because the MBTA was an agency of the state — and then they defunded the MBTA.

    The end result is that, with the MBTA broke, the mitigations are back as the responsibility of the state, because courts frown on scams like that.

    Yet more evidence that the DBT is Seattle’s Big Dig, anyway.

  14. “This intersection commonly used by bikers provides connections to bike routes that head in every direction: south via Westlake to downtown”

    Wait, I thought SDOT recently repaved Dexter with an eye for that being the main Fremont-Downtown bike route?

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