Update: Geoff at ST pointed out that the Tacoma Link streetcar fare is set to go up automatically in September 2016, unless a funder (such as the Tacoma Business Improvement Area has been doing) covers the revenue ST would gain from installing fare collection equipment and collecting fares.
A menu of proposals will be considered by the Sound Transit Board to honor the ORCA LIFT low-income reduced fare program on ST Express and Sounder. The proposals involve fare increases on these services, partially to offset the administrative costs and lost fare revenue from the LIFT program, and partially to keep up with increased operational costs, including inflation. Any fare changes would take effect March 1, 2016.
For ST Express, the options under consideration are:
1. No fare change at this time.
2. Increase fares across all categories by 25 cents, and create a new LIFT fare category for ST Express routes that serve only King County, matching the freshly-increased youth fare, $1.50. The ORCA LIFT fare would only be honored on routes 522, 540-567, and 577.
3. Increase fares across all categories by 25 cents, and create a new LIFT fare category for ST Express, matching the freshly-increased youth fare of $1.50 1-county, and $2.75 multi-county.
For Sounder, the options under consideration are:
1. No fare change at this time.
2. Increase fares for full-paying adults and youth by 50 cents, and seniors and riders with disabilities by 25 cents, without honoring ORCA LIFT.
3. Increase fares for full-paying adults and youth by 50 cents, and seniors and riders with disabilities by 25 cents, create a new LIFT fare category for Sounder, and match the LIFT fare to the freshly-raised youth fare.
Decisions on each service could be made independently of the other service, but won’t be made until the ST Board meeting on Thursday, November 19. The announcement lists several options for providing feedback, including an online survey, with a comment period opening Saturday, September 19 (today) and closing Thursday, November 12. There will be a hearing on the proposals at noon on Thursday, November 5, at Union Station, 401 S. Jackson St.
The Board voted last year to honor the low-income fare on Link Light Rail, which took effect March 1 of this year, the day the LIFT fare went live on King County Metro, the South Lake Union Streetcar, and the King County Water Taxis, partnered with the low-income fare program that has been in place for Kitsap Transit since 1985. Riding the Tacoma Link streetcar remains free
, until board action changes that.
Riders in households earning 200% or less of the federal poverty level are eligible for the LIFT program. The application and card are free. Getting the reduced fare requires loading a pass or cash value onto the ORCA LIFT card, and tapping the card for fare payments. The card’s LIFT fare discount is good for two years from the time of receipt.
Non-low-income riders benefit from the ORCA LIFT program as a result of more of their fellow riders tapping instead of paying with cash.
Some data regarding the number of LIFT cards in use (page 0), and their usage (page 16), is now available at the 2015 2nd Quarter ORCA Joint Board Program Management Report.
Fares have only increased once in the history of Sounder, in 2007, as a result of Sound Transit Board Resolution 2007-06, wherein the Board voted to switch from a 3-zone fare system to distance-based fares. As it happens, the current proposals are nearly identical to Option 2 that was not selected in 2007, for the trip pairings and payer categories that existed at that time. The youth fare was set at 3/4 of the full fare, rounded down to the nearest quarter. The RRFP fare was set at half the full fare, which is the legal maximum for senior/disability fares, rounded down to the nearest quarter. The current proposals would alter the youth-fare formula slightly, to round off, and round up if halfway between quarters.
ST Express fares last went up in 2011, as a result of Resolution 2010-11.
Here is what fares on all agencies that honor the PugetPass would look like on March 1, 2016 if these proposals pass:
|Sound Transit||ST Express intra-county||$0.75||$1.25||n/a||$2.50|
|Sound Transit||Proposed ST Express intra-county||$1.00||$1.50||$1.50 *||$2.75|
|Sound Transit||ST Express inter-county||$1.50||$2.50||n/a||$3.50|
|Sound Transit||Proposed ST Express inter-county||$1.75||$2.75||$2.75 *||$3.75|
|Sound Transit||Sounder minimum||$1.25||$2.00||n/a||$2.75|
|Sound Transit||Proposed Sounder minimum||$1.50||$2.50||$2.50 **||$3.25|
|Sound Transit||Sounder maximum||$2.50||$3.75||n/a||$5.25|
|Sound Transit||Proposed Sounder maximum||$2.75||$4.25||$4.25 **||$5.75|
|Sound Transit||Link Light Rail minimum||$1.00||$1.50||$1.50||$2.25|
|Sound Transit||Link Light Rail maximum||$1.00||$1.50||$1.50||$3.00 ***|
|Sound Transit||Tacoma Link streetcar||$0.00||$0.00||n/a||$0.00|
|Community Transit||local bus||$1.00||$1.50||n/a||$2.25|
|Community Transit||commuter south/Everett||$2.00||$3.00||n/a||$4.25|
|Community Transit||commuter north/east||$2.50||$4.00||n/a||$5.50|
|Everett Transit||local bus||$0.25||$0.75||n/a||$1.00|
|Everett Transit||commuter (Route 70)||$1.00||$1.50||n/a||$2.25|
|KC Water Taxis||West Seattle ORCA||$2.00||$3.00||$3.00||$4.00|
|KC Water Taxis||West Seattle cash||$2.00||$4.75||$4.75||$4.75|
|KC Water Taxis||Vashon ORCA||$2.50||$3.75||$3.75||$4.75|
|KC Water Taxis||Vashon cash||$2.50||$5.50||$5.50||$5.50|
|King County Metro||off-peak||$1.00||$1.50||$1.50||$2.50|
|King County Metro||1-zone peak||$1.00||$1.50||$1.50||$2.75|
|King County Metro||2-zone peak||$1.00||$1.50||$1.50||$3.25|
|Kitsap Transit||buses and foot ferry||$1.00||$1.00||$1.00||$2.00|
* The Board may choose to honor ORCA LIFT only on routes wholely within King County, or on all routes.
** The Board may choose to raise Sounder fares without honoring the ORCA LIFT.
*** The regular adult Link maximum fare may increase further due to the opening of Capitol Hill Station, University of Washington Station, and Angle Lake Station in 2016.
The youth fare applies to riders ages 6-18. Children age 5 and under ride free when accompanied by a fare-paying adult, up to four children per adult.
Getting the ORCA LIFT card requires a visit to one of the many sites that process applications. Getting a disabilities Regional Reduced Fare Permit (RRFP) ORCA card requires a visit to one of the transit agency offices, in particular the King Street Center at 201 S. Jackson St, between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm on a regular business day, for King County. Getting a senior Regional Reduced Fare Permit ORCA card or a youth ORCA card can be done through snail mail. The regular adult ORCA card is available at all Sound Transit train stations, and lots of other locations.