Pierce Transit #248

On Monday, December 8th, Pierce Transit’s new fareboxes will “go live” on all Pierce Transit buses, bringing an end to Pierce Transit’s intra-agency paper transfers and introducing a new Pierce Transit All-Day Pass.

Customers who currently pay their fare with cash or a ticket, and who need more than one Pierce Transit bus to reach their destination, will have three options as of December 8th:

(1) Pay a cash fare or use a ticket on each bus they board;
(2) Purchase a Pierce Transit All-Day Pass, good for unlimited rides on Pierce Transit buses for a single service day; or,
(3) Use an ORCA card, loaded with fare product, for an automatic two-hour transfer credit.

Ticket books are no longer sold to the general public.

Pierce Transit cash fares remain the same. Cash fares for a single trip on one Pierce Transit bus remain at $2.00 for adult riders, $.75 for youth (ages 6-18), and $.75 for seniors or individuals with disabilities who show a valid Regional Reduced Fare Permit.

The all-day pass costs $5.00 for adults, $2.50 for youth (ages 6-18), and $2.50 for seniors and persons with disabilities who show a valid Regional Reduced Fare Permit. The all-day pass replaces the Weekend All-Day Pass, and may be purchased seven days a week when boarding Pierce Transit local buses or loaded onto an ORCA card at any ORCA vending machine or retailer that sells ORCA in Pierce County. The all-day pass is not valid on paratransit or other agencies’ services.

The current weekend all-day pass that is going away costs twice the single-ride fare.

The all-day pass allows a rider to pay once and ride an unlimited number of rides on Pierce Transit local buses until the end of the service day. All-day passes on ORCA cards will be activated once tapped on a Pierce Transit bus, and will automatically expire at the end of the service day. All-day passes purchased on a bus will have an expiration date and time imprinted on the back of the pass by the farebox.

Customers may pick up a free ORCA card at the Pierce Transit Bus Shop at 505 East 25th Street, Tacoma, now through December 12th.

Customers can check out the new fareboxes, get information about all-day passes and ride free on all Pierce Transit local service from the beginning of the service day on December 6th until the end of the service day on December 7th. Regular fares resume at the beginning of the service day on December 8th.

51 Replies to “Pierce Transit Introduces New Day Pass”

  1. This is great! A day pass in Tacoma makes so much sense if you’re coming down for the say from Seattle or elsewhere. What is the holdup Metro?

    1. I believe daypasses in King County do exist – they’re just outrageously priced. $9 if I remember correctly. Although, an $8 daypass for Pronto gives you even worse value for your money.

      1. Nope.
        That was just limited-time trial run. The regional day pass was discontinued at the end of the trial.

    2. An increasing number of agencies seem to be switching to day passes instead than transfers. From what I’ve seen, smaller cities or those with few peak-expresses just charge a round-trip fare and are available to 9-5 commuters. Larger cities with many peak-expresses charge a slightly higher fare and lock out commuters (e.g., by making them available only at 9am). Some cities have two tiers of passes: one for light rail only and the other for rail+bus, while other cities treat bus and light rail interchangeably.

      Metro used to have day passes on Saturday/Sunday/holidays only. Those went away with ORCA. There was also a more expensive tourist bundle with I think a 3-day pass and a monorail roundtrip. The $9 pass was not really a regular day pass; its price made it more of a tourist bundle. The price was far higher than other cities’ daypass. The closest counterpart would be things like NYC’s 7-day pass ($30, or $4.29 per day), but that gives you five times more coverage and frequency than Metro does.

      The main impediment to a day pass is Metro’s budget. If people start buying day passes and using them as much as monthly passes, Metro would lose significant money and would have to cut routes. Right now the monthly pass restrictions are a deterrent: you have to buy a whole month and it starts on the 1st. That makes it useless to people needing a pass for a week or two, or starting in the middle of the month, or for a day or two or three. And if you forget to renew your monthly pass: oops, you’ll be paying more, or you’ll have to buy it late and forego the missed days.

      1. Notable exception: Los Angeles Metro recently introduced free one-way, two-hour transfers (issued on their smart card only) along with a 25¢ base fare increase. They kept the day pass but raised its price from $5 to $7, 4x the base fare ($1.75). I still find the day pass a good deal when I know I’ll be spending the day on a lot of buses and trains. Otherwise, I can save some money with the free transfers.

      2. A day pass would not be a money loser on metro. Set it at 2x the max fare for the system plus $1 and it’s a good deal for the system. So right now highest fare is $3 so you’d charge $7. ORCA only.

  2. That’s a great question (fill in name). We continually evaluate our fare and media structure to maximize return to riders and stakeholders alike. Our approach is to take potentially good ideas, and farm them out to blue ribbon commissions, followed by multiple layers of review by focus groups before bothering our Citizen Advisory Cmmte. Most times this process is very quick, on the order of less than a decade, to complete, before starting a formal process with our elected officials (keep in mind they have other duties too).
    Keep the good ideas rolling in! (rolling eyes).

      1. sorry english bad this am. wish this blog had an editor ” that add would be ” –> that would be
        “why we throw a” –> why don’t we throw a

  3. Houston had an all-day pass back in 2000, which you could purchase on board the bus for twice the single-trip fare. However, unlike Pierce Transit’s all-day pass, it was good for exactly 24 hours, rather than expiring at the end of the service day.

    I quickly realized that on a Tuesday-Friday, a day pass from yesterday would still be good if today’s bus happened to come by my stop a minute or two earlier than yesterday’s bus. So, I developed a routine where each Monday morning, I would by a daypass and, on Tuesday-Friday, I would give yesterday’s daypass a try and, if the machine rejected it, insert cash to buy another one. Each individual trip, sometimes the day pass trick avoided the fare and sometimes it didn’t, but overall, it averaged out to be around 30% discount. I can’t help noticing that Pierce Transit has wised up to the old trick – with the daypass expiring at the end of the service day, you can’t use it that day.

  4. So Pierce Transit is giving out free Orca cards to anyone who comes by in the next couple weeks? Great! May others imitate them!

    1. It basically coincides with ‘events” that are expected to generate new ORCA riders. Metro’s only event was introducing ORCA. Since then Metro hasn’t changed the fare structure or payment method, it has just continued the regular fare increases. So an interesting question would be: what future Metro event would give reason for a new round of free-ORCA distribution?

      The U-Link restructure is one possible occasion. That could also help assuge any opposition. “Get a free ORCA for your new route!”

      It would also be nice if Link had a free day when it opens U-Link. The initial free weekend was already better than what Vancouver did for the Canada Line. It just had a free few hours, and many people were in line and couldn’t get on before it was over. So let’s continue our exemplary behavior, as Sam would say.

      1. The new low-income ORCA will be free (to the recipient, but not cheap to give out). The surge of new ORCA holders will be significant, even if it isn’t technically an “event” with an end date.

  5. So prior to Dec 8, did or does PT have paper all-day passes, or are the all-day paper passes a new product? And if paper day passes are new, why does one county transit system that uses ORCA say paper transfers are needed, and the next county up from them that also uses the ORCA system discontinue paper day passes?

    1. For the past few years, PT has sold a day pass, but only on Saturday and Sunday. Drivers would issue an uncut transfer for the price of two rides.

  6. Use an ORCA card, loaded with fare product

    What is “fare product”? Is this just a jargon-y way of saying money or a pass?

    1. Good observation djw. Over the last forty years or so, as fewer and fewer of our people have had anything to do with manufacturing anything like cars or clothes, we’ve seen more things like loans arrangements billed as “products”.

      I’m absolutely certain that a major motive behind this habit is to deliberately give an impression of strength, solidity, permanence and quality to an exchange that has none of these qualities.

      Sub prime mortgages and sub prime meat smell the same and have the same effect on those who buy them. But of the two, the meat one can at least claim to be a product.

      So every time I hear a transit fare being billed as a “fare product” the greater the urge to start a passenger campaign, I mean idiot-language-elimination product, to mandate “we’re only going to pay cash in very small coins until we get a comprehensible fare system” product. Including an “English only advertising and instruction product”.

      Heralded with a “First time ORCA card for five dollars with an all-day-pass-already-loaded” product.

      Hey, Metro and Sound Transit: Produce that!

      A Mark Dublin(tm) Product

      1. In the same vein: I never could understand why the term’Human Resources’ replaced ‘Personnel.’ Sounds like a commodity trade term.
        Until all-day(s) Metro visitor passes become available I keep a couple of extra ORCA cards in hand that I preload with E-purse.

    2. Marketing has gotten into everything, and these terms are used to justify the organization’s “business plan” and measure its performance. Sometimes they leak into public discourse, or sometimes we read documents targeted to boards and beancounters where that’s the native language.

      1. Here’s a song from Weird Al’s new CD “Mandatory Fun” Entitled “Mission Statement.Fits the thread perfectly. Sounds a lot like CSN & Y.

      1. Do you also think that “mixed media” arts involve newscasters and sports games? The word “media” has been around a lot longer than movies or newspapers.

  7. I would like to be able to buy a Day, Week, or 30 day pass from Metro that can be purchased anytime and loaded to my ORCA card through an app on my phone. When will this be possible?

      1. Both of which are in the works, according to the recent “Getting there together” report. From page 18:

        New transit app for smartphones: Metro will release
        a new smartphone app in fall 2014. The new app, downloadable from online stores, offers features allowing customers to plan trips, access schedules and obtain real-time bus arrival information regionwide. Metro will coordinate with Sound Transit and partner transit agencies on this app’s release.

        Mobile ticketing: Consistent with the long-term ORCA strategic plan, transit partner agencies will jointly develop a mobile ticketing project that enables riders to pay fares with their smart phones; a pilot program is expected to launch in 2015. Mobile ticketing has been deployed by many transit agencies across the U.S., enabling riders to use cell phones to pay transit fares.

  8. And just for clarity, I mean truth in advertising, I want to stress that “English only” means no buzzwords or jargon, in any language in the Galaxy including Klingon. Good transit instructions should ideally be mostly pictures, charts, and numbers.

    The Montreal subway system is instantly comprehensible to a complete stranger who already faces antipathy for not speaking French. Especially if they are Canadian.

    “Well it’s in the Book” just doesn’t “get it” for people boarding Sounder at Freighthouse Square who need to get from IDS to Westlake Station. They should not have to end up taking a cab from King Street Station because, for instance, a LINK train won’t honor the ticket issued for a Sounder train both operated by the same agency.

    With second train stopping a block away. And only able to negotiate this train-change because of a chance meeting with somebody who knew the system. Multiply similar event (products) over incalculable instances, and the anti-Government war-cry “Run it like a Business! suddenly gains resonance.

    Maybe from the days when the US economy created cars, clothes, machines, and PCC streetcars- rather than bets called credit default swaps- as products.

    Mark Dublin (A formerly wholly owned subsidiary now in need of an owner.)

      1. Sorry, Nathan. The Feds issued a nationwide recall before 1946. The Second World War wasn’t over yet, so the 1945 model was …well, let’s just say the Lemay museum isn’t interested. Doubtless they already have an Edsel.

        Besides, after the merger that brought about King County Metro Transit, new management decided that DSTT operations needed to look to the future instead of the past, and divested themselves of MDD Enterprises, which ceased trading.

        But since it really is time for new thinking, Advise getting a job application tomorrow, and when hired, pick Atlantic Base ASAP. As your seniority accumulates, keep on picking trolley work even after all your friends have gone to Bellevue, East, or North Base. Or escaped to Afghanistan.

        Early on, start attending county Transit Committee and Sound Transit Board meetings, being sure to show up in uniform, and tell your representatives the transit perspective fresh from behind the wheel. Never pulling a punch.

        13 years from now NorthLink will reach 130th, the I-90 Bridge will have just been re-floated, and your years of suggestions for improving joint operations have just received the decision that no action is needed because joint ops are only temporary.

        Ignore the past, and stay with it!


    1. “…people boarding Sounder at Freighthouse Square who need to get from IDS to Westlake Station. They should not have to end up taking a cab from King Street Station because, for instance, a LINK train won’t honor the ticket issued for a Sounder train both operated by the same agency.”
      This works both ways. Try explaining (as I must from time to time) to someone at the Info Desk at the Convention Center how to get from 7th and Pike to Tacoma on the train. NUTS! Fix it ST, fix it yesterday!

      1. Why not just take a bus to Tacoma instead — ST594 runs half-hourly a block or so away from Convention Place.

      2. Sound Transit wouldn’t need to mess with printed paper train tickets at all if it weren’t for the {ad hom} $5 ORCA card fee. And no, I haven’t gotten a straight answer from any agency as to which agency is blocking removal of this fee that is costing taxpayers through the nose through operational inefficiencies larger than the amount collected through the fee.

  9. It seems like this is a horrible transfer penalty. Don’t we want people using transit systems as a network? So someone who used to spend $2 to go somewhere (and get a ride back with a family member/coworker) now has to spend $4 because there isn’t a one seat ride for their needs?

    1. That’s what the free Orca cards are for. Hopefully, they’ll be advertised to every man, woman, and child in Pierce County. It’s too bad they’re only at the Bus Shop, but that’s much better than nothing.

      1. Solution is not very far south, William. The 62nd Airlift Wing out of Joint Base Lewis/McChord should be able to help. I’m sure a couple those transports shower enough Orca cards out the cargo doors to make sure everybody has at least one blow into the yard.

        Even better, to attract young people to transit at an early age, those cool A-10 “Warthogs” can practice close-air support by screaming in at rooftop level scattering clouds of cards from under their wings over specific public places, even school yards, to assure penetration.

        Wonder if the Gatling guns in the nose of those ships can fire blanks as a further attention getter. Just like the Interstate highway system was a defense project, so is transit now. Every Orca tap is one less quart of oil that ISIS can sell.


    2. The transfer “penalty” isn’t as bad as it seems, since to get almost anywhere in the PT network, its at-least a 2 or 3 bus ride. So with the new fare structure, the price would be cheaper than paying for each trip individually, and with the current fare structure its probally comparable since some days you are buying 2 or three transfer tickets depending on where you are going and how long it takes you to get there. Furthermore, it adds an incentive to buy an ORCA pass, which most on this board agree should be more heavily used.

  10. Polite reminder: Skagit Transit has a $2 all-day in-county bus pass you just stick into your pocket. Works wonders.

  11. I wish we had a day pass in King County. For people who don’t ride often enough to warrant a monthly pass but want to be mobile by bus for the day. Including tourists. But also residents.

    It would need to work across Metro, ST bus and ST light rail. It could be set at something like $6.50 or $7, so that’s more than double Metro’s peak fare and ST bus and light rail’s peak in-county fares.

    It would not require any new hardware. It could either be sold for cash as a sight pass. Or it could be limited to ORCA only – and either loaded onto the card as a product from a TVM or the website, and activated on first use, or implemented the way London does on its Oyster where you won’t be charged any more than the daypass rate if you stay in-county.

    That, too, would allow ending non-ORCA transfers.

  12. This is a bad implementation of a day pass, though, since ERG systems have the capability to auto-cap fares. Clipper has that on AC Transit and VTA, where each base fare paid to AC and VTA are considered credit to a day pass. In Tacoma’s case you would deduct no more than $2 every 2 hours or $5 per service day.

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