Metro’s ORCA LIFT program is one of the first low-income transit fare products in North America, and it is fully worth your support. Earlier this year Sound Transit began accepting LIFT on Link Light rail but not on Sounder or its ST Express buses. Pierce Transit and Community Transit don’t participate in LIFT while operating the majority of ST Express routes, so accepting LIFT there would have introduced operational complexity.
But now Sound Transit is considering expanding its acceptance of ORCA LIFT, either to all express routes wholly within King County, on all ST Express buses, or acceptance systemwide including Sounder. It is also considering a parallel general fare increase of $.25-$.50 to offset the lost revenue.
Please comment and ask for systemwide acceptance of ORCA LIFT, as the other options on the table create absurd outcomes for riders. For example, the proposed option to accept LIFT only on routes wholly operated within King County – crucially, distinct from routes operated by King County Metro! – would create a nightmare of complexity.
Consider just a trip from Federal Way Transit Center to Seattle. Peak riders on Route 577 would get a low-income fare ($1.50), but off-peak riders on Route 578 wouldn’t ($2.75). Thus Metro would be in the business of having higher peak fares while Sound Transit would be in the business of having lower peak fares. And while Community Transit could blissfully ignore the complexity, as none of their Sound Transit routes operate wholly within King County, Pierce Transit would have to accept LIFT on some routes (such as Route 560, 566, and 567), but not on others (574, 578, 580, 590, 592, 595).
Let that sink in. That would be a terrible outcome for system usability, and would directly contradict King County Executive (and Sound Transit Board Chair) Dow Constantine’s goals for agency integration.
Please comment by November 5, and ask for the simplest system with the broadest access for all. Ask for full LIFT acceptance on all Sound Transit services. See TCC’s Action Alert for example language to use in your comments.