On March 1, Seattle Monorail Services and the Seattle Center proposed a fare increase for the Seattle Center Monorail.
|Adult 13-64 One-Way||$2.25||$2.50|
|Youth 5-12 / Senior 65+ /
Disabilities / Active US military
|Adult 13-64 Monthly Pass||$45||$50|
|Youth/Senior/Disabilities/Active US military
|Low-Income||not available||not available|
All fares will remain cash only. In addition to not accepting ORCA cards, the monorail does not accept debit/credit cards or checks.
The monorail is celebrating its 55th birthday this Friday. It has been operated by Seattle Monorail Services since 1994 as a quasi-private specialty transit line, catering to tourists and event crowds willing to pay a premium to avoid slower local buses between downtown and the Seattle Center. Previously, it had been operated directly by the City of Seattle. The City still owns the line and funds the maintenance, while SMS makes an operating profit on the line. A portion of that profit goes to fund programming at the Seattle Center, which oversees SMS.
SMS won a 10-year contract to continue operating the monorail at the end of 2014, with a 10-year extension option that can be approved by the Seattle Center without coming back to the city council. After last-minute discussions about accepting ORCA, stipulations were added to the contract to complete a study about fare integration with the public transit system by the end of the 2nd quarter of 2015. That study led to an additional ridership study that was scheduled to take a year to conduct, and is still not available to the public. Seattle Center did not respond to questions about the study by time of publication.
UPDATE: Per Denise Wells at the Seattle Center, the ridership study will be available some time in the second quarter of 2017. Debit/credit card payment may become available this summer, and the age ranges of the payer categories will be aligned with the public transit agencies (i.e. 6-18 for youth fare). A Disparate Impact Analysis will be done on the fare proposal before it is enacted.
One of the stipulations is that if the City insists that SMS accept ORCA, then SMS will have to accept ORCA, but gets time to renegotiate fares or possibly opt out of the contract. If the monorail accepts ORCA, it would automatically have to have a low-income fare category, and extend its youth fare to age 18, due to the ORCA Joint Board’s agency sponsorship rules.
The new higher fares are scheduled to take effect May 1.
A public hearing on the fare proposal will be held at the Seattle Center Armory Loft #3 at 5:30 pm on Wednesday, April 12. Comments will also be accepted through Friday, April 14, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and via phone at 206-615-0258.