Dow Constantine, King County Executive announces new fare proposal Image: Lizz Giordano

King County Metro Transit wants to simplify bus fares by establishing a flat rate of $2.75 for passengers — eliminating zones and peak-rate fares.

Calling the current fare system one of the most “complicated” in the country,” Dow Constantine, King County Executive, announced a proposal to streamline fares at a press conference Thursday. The change could take effect as soon as July 2018 if approved by the King County Council.

“I believe that access to opportunity depends on providing people with safe, affordable and reliable ways to get around this region,” Constantine told the crowd. “Rising home prices means a lot of folks have been pushed further and further from the place where they earn their living, for them this new fare means more money in their pockets.”

According to Metro, roughly 65 percent of riders will see no change or a reduction in their fare with the proposed $2.75 flat rate. 

Currently, riders traveling between two zones during the morning or evening commute pay $3.25, the proposal would reduce that cost by 50 cents. However, for riders traveling during off-peak hours, the new fare would increase the cost of their ticket by 25 cents. There will be no change in cost for riders that qualify for ORCA Lift, youth, senior and disabled fares.

“We will make Metro fares simpler and we will make boardings faster, and faster boardings mean more service,” Constantine said.

Also included in the proposal is an additional $400,000 in funding for the Human Services Ticket Program which provides subsidized bus fares to human service agencies serving low-income residents. With 44 percent of these subsidized fares used during off-peak hours, Metro said this additional funding will help offset the higher cost these riders would pay under the new fare system.

The agency said this change was not about increasing revenue, predicting the fare change along with an increase in funding for subsidies for low-income riders would make only a marginal difference.

“I think it makes a lot of sense to do away with the higher two-zone fare,” wrote Katie Wilson, general secretary of the Transit Riders Union in an email. “It’s not right to make someone who commutes to Seattle from Kent because they can’t afford to live here pay more for their ride, even though it’s more expensive to provide the service.”

However, Wilson is concerned about the impacts of the off-peak fare increase on lower-income riders who don’t qualify for a reduced fare.

“Many households that do not qualify for reduced transit fares are cost-burdened, and the increase from $2.50 to $2.75 will impact them,” Wilson said. “At the very least, I think all additional revenue from the fare restructure should be directed to programs that make transit more affordable for lower-income riders.”

While considering a change to streamline fares, Metro received over 11,000 comments through two public surveys, of which a third of participants said the current fare system was too complex and difficult to understand. In one survey, 80 percent of participants supported a flat fare.

“Simpler fares improves accessibility for everyone, but particularly for new riders, people who haven’t tried the system yet, for infrequent riders, for visitors,” said Claudia Balducci, King County Councilmember.  “No more hovering near the bus driver and trying to figure out which zone you are going to, or whether the peak hour has started or ended yet. Just climb on, pay one fare and off you go.”

57 Replies to “A Single Metro Fare for All”

  1. Well it’s about time. This should have been done years ago. People having taking the bus short distances but going through two zones for years and paying more than people who ride the bus great distances but just happened to stay in one zone. One zone in one flat rate will make things simpler easier and much much more effective. Only self having stuck a few times because I got off work or an appointment not really expected and I found out that I would answer the peak fare times. This was in confusion with the fairies and they won’t have to worry about people less depending on what day or what time they ride. Also, to Katie Wilson, this will benefit working-class families for more than it will hurt. Why? Because most ride during peak hours that’s why they were charging more so yes the few people may be hurt by a failing Kris but the overwhelming majority will benefit from this and I think most people will be okay. This is a rare good idea from the King County Executive for the city of Seattle Dow Constantine.

    1. As a shift worker, I have to disagree with RennDawg’s assessment of when working-class people are riding. We’re doing lots of different shifts around the clock, and riding all the time. Give us more dependable night-owl service with usable frequency, and we’ll ride more. That includes the operators who often don’t have dependable transit to get them to their transit-driving job, or to get home.

      Metro has studied this before and realizes that white-collar folks predominately ride during peak. That’s why they listed the “off-peak discount” as a subsidy for lower-income riders during the presentations to the Low Income Fare Options Advisory Committee.

      That said, thank the King County Council and Dow Constantine for ORCA LIFT! We’ve got it. Now let’s do the stuff that it should help make politically possible, like getting rid of time differential, getting rid of paper transfers, and having cash fares be higher than electronic fares (while also getting rid of the ridiculously counterproductive ORCA card fee, and coming up with an ORCA-based monthly-ish pass for very-low-income riders).

      1. Yeah, what Brent said. White collar workers from well to do suburbs will get a discount. The nurses, nursing aids, custodians who ride the bus at off hours from Rainier Valley will pay more.

      2. What about those nurses, nursing aides, and custodians who ride the bus from Shoreline to Northgate?

      3. @Kyle — Many will see their fares go up a quarter. Current system: Bus / all zones / off-peak: $2.50. New system, all bus rides, $2.75.

        To be clear, there are nurses and other medical workers who work nine to five. But those nurses tend to be better off (be better paid) than those that work the night shift (or graveyard). Those who clean the offices tend to work late at night, as do many of the low paid security guards. The people who make the most money in the office work nine to five.

  2. I think Metro made the right call on this one. Two-zone fares was not only a mess, but fundamentally unfair for short trips that just happened to cross a zone boundary (e.g. 130th St. to 150th St. on the E-line). It also delayed service having Orca cards reset for people traveling one zone. And the peak vs. off-peak distinction was also a mess because near the boundaries, it wasn’t always obvious what the fare was until the bus showed up and, sometimes, the fare would depend on whether the first bus that happens to show up is on-time or late.

    Next, it’s time to round up the cash fare to $3, in exchange for a slight reduction in the Orca fare. In order to actually pay $2.75 cash, you need to carry 6 quarters for a round trip, which almost nobody these days actually does, so the cash fare is effectively $3, anyway. Any price incentive to get people off of cash and onto Orca is a good thing.

    1. I agree. That is the part of this that makes no sense. They simplified things to make it easier for new riders. “Just climb on, pay one fare and off you go”. But the fare is $2.75!

      That typically means two bills and three quarters. What a pain in the butt. As you said, a lot of people will simply pay three dollars, but some will stand there, and put in quarter after quarter and then ask where they put the dollar bills. It is a stupid number. It also provides no incentive to get an ORCA card.

      They should charge ORCA users $2.75, and cash users $3.00.

      Having a different rate for cash and ORCA card use is way overdue, and could have allowed the county to come up with a better system. The two zone system was not a good one, but we shouldn’t pretend that all buses are the same. An express bus is more expensive to run — fare box recovery is worse. The opposite is true as well — there are plenty of buses that are very cost effective because they are constantly picking up and letting off riders. So give that bus a discount. The 7, for example, could charge $2.50 for ORCA users. Or $2.25, or even $2.17 — it doesn’t matter, because it is on a card. There is no reason why Metro couldn’t take that approach, except that it would get the folks who don’t use the ORCA card upset. We have such a ridiculous approach to the ORCA card, and once again it bites us in the butt. We want people to use it, but then we charge way to much to buy a card, and hem and haw over what to do. No one wants to do the hard work of actually trying to get universal usage, and the entire system is much slower as a result.

    2. This will bring Metro and ST back into alignment on fares, which is logical.

      I’m reluctant to give up revenue, however, especially when it is expensive peak-hour commute routes that are going to be given the biggest savings.

      So effectively, Seattle is going to cover a larger share of Metro fares going forward. Not sure that is really equitable, but Seattle voters clearly don’t mind taking financial bullets for the rest of the region.

  3. I have been riding Metro for twenty years. I have refused to pay one time
    I was catching a peak hours bus in West Seattle to downtown. That is one zone. I was using ORCA E-purse and not a pass. The reader said 2 zones. I asked for the change. The driver refused. Telling me to just pay the 2 zones fare. Well I said no to that. This will prevent a similar incident from happening.

    1. I had that once on the 183 to Federal Way, which was through-routed with the 153. The driver apparently was charging a 2-zone fare along the whole 153 route (he switched it to one zone when I asked him about it, but defended his use of two zones on 153, which is not a two zone route)

      1. I had that on a 180. Apparently north of Kent was one zone and south another. Incorrect. The whole line is one zone. I seldomly take the 150 from Kent to Seattle so when going northbound it’s a mess trying To get the driver to set it for one zone. So much time wasted but I should only have to pay $2.75 for a two mile ride.

    2. That happened to me as well, but it was very easy to contest it on the ORCA website. There was no reason to hassle the bus driver (and the dozens of people who depended on him).

      1. How is it hassling the driver to have the ORCA reader on the right fare? Also, my ORCA is not on the website. At that time I didn’t even own a computer.

      2. You should be able to log into your ORCA account from any computer hooked up to the internet — such as the ones at the library.

      3. That only works if you’ve registered your ORCA. Those wishing to be anonymous don’t have this option.

  4. Now that we’re building a good robust urban grid of routes within Seattle, it’s time to change fares for all routes to favor long suburban trips? Say what you will about fare zones, but taking a 1.5 mile bus ride on a efficient urban network costing $2.75 is a bit insane, especially when you consider that long haul commutes on routes like the 197 or 111, most if which require hiring a single part-time driver for every trip, will cost the same.

    1. I agree. I think they threw the baby out with the bath water. I get it — no one liked the zone system. I agree, it didn’t make sense. So how about a different, simpler system:

      1) Charge a flat cash fee. $3.00 is a nice round number (easy to remember).

      2) Charge different ORCA card rates for different buses. It is a card, so a lot of people would be oblivious. But people would figure out that riding, say, the 2, in the middle of the day is cheaper than riding the 197 at rush hour.

      1. I agree $3 makes much, much more sense as a cash fare.

        But I don’t think “people will be oblivious” is a good reason to charge people different prices…

      2. OK, maybe oblivious is the wrong term. A lot of people just won’t care. Or at least, they won’t when they are actually paying; they will look back at the bills, and maybe change their approach later. Chances are, they won’t. The extra fee would be for premium service (long distance runs) and for those, the extra quarter or two is minimal compared to the time savings.

      3. Fair, but I disagree on “premium.” Catching the 41 from Northgate is certainly a premium ride. Riding the 106 from Renton to Seattle is not.

        If you want to charge more for “express” buses as a premium, that’s fine, but that’s not what the old system did. “Premium” should be for certain routes & service patterns, not for arbitrary municipal boundaries. If Metro wants to brand, say, the 218 as an express bus and charge more, that’s fine. But, it would be absurd to refer to route like the 271 as a “premium” route simply because it crosses Lake Washington. It’s a milk run, and it’s also the only 1-seat ride from downtown Bellevue to north Seattle. Under the old system, the 218 and the 271 charged the same fares.

        Basically, it’s important to remember that outside of Seattle, Metro does more than just run express buses from the suburbs into Seattle. (Unlike, say, Community Transit, which could reasonably refer to all Seattle-bound buses as ‘premium’)

      4. Given the way most of us live now, especially after last three years’ dislocations re: rent and housing prices, might be best to consider a transit fare as the key to a whole region-full of transit. Up to you where you ride when you get inside.

        This could be one of automobile travel’s most attractive decades’-long advantages. Toll roads are tools for certain specific applications. And only revived with invention of remote readers and billing. Certainly urban and suburban streets and arterials would still find tolls counterproductive.

        ORCA. One Regional Card for All. No reason A-word can’t apply to both Anybody and Anywhere.


      5. No one is defending the old system. The zone system wasn’t very good.

        But the answer is not to basically treat all bus routes as being the same. Some are express in nature, spend a lot of time on the freeway, and could be considered “premium”. It would be pretty simple to designate some routes as being more expensive than others (or some routes as being cheaper than others) based on those (and other) factors. Of course there would be people arguing that they got it wrong (that route XX shouldn’t be premium) but it still wouldn’t be difficult to do.

    2. Asking $2.50 is also a bit insane for those short trips. If you’re traveling as a couple, it’s actually cheaper to get an Uber pool or Lyft line for those short trips–and it really shouldn’t be. One possibility is to have local circulator routes that cost, say, 50 cents or $1. If they’re branded the fare difference should be pretty obvious, as it’s the same fare for all trips on those busses. Kind of like the West Seattle DART shuttles, not with full sized and articulated busses. Eastlake/SLU-Lower Queen Anne, Capitol Hill Broadway-15th Ave, U-District-Roosevelt, SODO area connection to Link, Columbia City, and Rainier Beach-Othello come to mind.

      1. I don’t think – having used Lyft Line for a while – that Lyft Line is cheaper than $2.50. I’ve had one trip that was $3 to go 10 blocks in Seattle against a very serious time crunch during Seafair on photo assignment.

      2. Yeah, and the best way to do that is by charging different rates for an ORCA trip, but all the same for a cash fare. Otherwise, you have the current mess. A cash payer has to know what time it is, or whether the bus is headed across the city line. That makes things messy. When I forget my ORCA card, I would carry enough change to pay the full range, read the sign, and try to pay the proper amount quickly. In contrast, if I knew it was $3.00 for every trip, I would have the three bills ready and start feeding it in as soon as I boarded.

        But at the same time, if they give a discount for certain bus routes, then people can adjust. It is possible that people wouldn’t even remember the discount, but know it is cheaper.

      3. Probably the best option for super-short urban routes would be to simply make them free. Tacoma Link is already free, and I think making the Seattle streetcar also free would make sense. That incentivizes hop-on, hop-off travel, plus it helps out-of-towners navigate our system.

        Would also help if we had a cap of fare paid per day. I think other transit agencies do this?

      4. It makes no difference to me if my usual 10-minute Metro ride costs the same as someone else’s hour-long ride, and in fact, I’m thrilled that I’m not on the bus for an hour. I’m not riding Metro for the journey, I’m riding it for the destination.

      5. But, if you have two people traveling together, UberPool or LyftLine for $5 is fairly common, so, yes, it can be cheaper than Metro under some circumstances.

        Even single people, high transit fares can sometimes push people towards Uber, especially when fare penalties for transfers are involved. I experienced a situation like this a few weeks ago in San Diego. My trip to the airport required two buses with a fare of $2.25 each. But, I only had one quarter on me, so the second bus would have had to round up to $3, for $5 total. UberPool was $5.94 on a credit card. Not surprisingly, I paid the extra 94 cents for a trip that was half an hour faster.

        As a disclaimer, it should be mentioned that San Diego does have a card similar to Orca which allows free transfers, but just like Orca, the set of places and hours where you can get one are limited, and never on my way, and I wasn’t in town long enough to justify making a special trip (and spending another $5 round trip on the bus) just to buy a fare card.

  5. So grateful for ORCA Next Generation/ORCA 2 forcing this change so ORCA Next Generation can have more options on the back end. It’s about time King County Metro did away with zone fares – after all, too many folks are not able to afford to live close to where they work and there is a need for flexibility.

  6. Yes, this makes it nicer for suburban riders. But here’s a silver lining: This long-term incentivizes Metro to build a stronger urban grid, because those routes are now more cost-effective for them than suburban trips.

    1. Metro is not a business, so decisions on where to add service are not really based on cost effectiveness. They are generally based on some combination of demand and political will.

  7. Anybody who can’t afford the extra quarter- low income pass. Cash in general? Load on a free ORCA card. Day or Monthly pass on the card? Threaded hole with a Phillips head for “tapping.” Or for starters, whatever’s necessary so nobody gets fined $124 for dutifully tapping on after not tapping off!

    Incidentally, show me anyplace, wall, ST Book, online or phone info a detailed warning that this can even happen. First notice is from fare inspector. Who takes your ID and chalks you up one step closer to being fined. No commercial enterprise on Earth would set the law on steady years-long customer for a mistake on this order!

    Not in the least interested in the excuses. Told something to do with apportioning revenue. Term “private contractor” too. As if the contractor’s boss can’t negotiate a change in a problem policy! Same descriptive fastener as in first paragraph. The system has no problem dividing up the revenue for the paper day-passes I buy before my day’s first LINK boarding.

    And slide into the same plastic envelope with my ORCA card, which works fine with a single threat-free tap on every bus in the Region. Which are swiftly on their way to joining my car and Sounder as my only regional transportation. Nobody stands there with my money in their pocket and calls me a thief in hearing distance of a court.

    Mark Dublin

  8. The dilemma is that Metro has an extremely wide variety of services: urban routes, suburban all-day routes, core expresses like the 41 and 150 and 255, short peak expresses like the 15 and 76 that are as much about coping with crowds and congestion as they are about speed, and long-distance peak expresses. The latter are what really get into people’s craw: the idea that peak-expresses from North Bend and Auburn cost the same as going from Uptown to Capitol Hill. But that’s related to Metro’s history, public expectations, and when/why suburbanites ride the bus. What Metro should do is charge special premium fares for long-distance peak expresses and get them out of the general fare structure. That also requires arranging the network so that people don’t need to use them for short-distance trips — that there are adequate local routes from Fairwood to Renton, east Kent to Kent Station, downtown to Spokane Street, Shoreline to north Seattle, etc — so that people aren’t forced onto the peak expresses because the local routes are too long a wait or don’t go where they need to. That’s not a problem in general but there may be a few places we should address.

    Other cities with extensive local service like Chicago, New York, and San Francisco have a separate agency handling local service with a flat fare, and different agencies running the suburban agencies and suburban local service with their own fares. That’s what’s missing in Metro: we’re stuffing core inner-city routes with suburban routes and long-distance peak expresses into the same agency and same fare structure. That goes back to Metro’s origins, as a successor to Seattle Transit and the rural transit providers. And it was pretty rural then. 3/4 of the suburban routes were peak expresses to downtown, and the people then apparently thought that that was what transit was for. So of course peak expresses were at the basic 2-zone fare, and as for local routes that happen to cross the zone boundaries, well, that’s not many people anyway.

    I’m bothered by the long-distance peak expresses at the flat fare, but it’s not worth going on a warpath about. They will be reorganized by 2025 and 2040 anyway, and replaced by a more sane set of all-day expresses complementing Link (i.e., going to downtown where Link doesn’t) and offering suburb-to-suburb connections.

    1. We kind of do already have separate local and express bus agencies. Isn’t that the point of Sound Transit Express buses? And some ST buses, like the 522 and 545, already run entirely in King County. To be honest, I don’t understand the difference between a Metro route, and a ST route operated by Metro. Maybe Metro can contract with Sound Transit to run certain express routes like the 41 and 76 and 312 and then there could be different charges for local and express service.

      1. ST already contracts with Metro to run its King Country routes (including Link). There would be no point in Metro contracting out routes to ST Express, just to have them contracted *back* to Metro.

    2. The difference is the choice of routes and funding. ST chose a set of regional routes and funds those. In a few cases they replaced Metro routes that had more stops (550, 554), or gave an all-day express to what was previously a unidirectional peak express (512, 545), or created brand-new corridors. ST funds these routes but does not operate them: it contracts with Metro, PT, and CT to operate them. (And CT subcontracts to First Transit, a private organization.) ST operates nothing except Tacoma Link.

      The Metro freeway routes like the 41, 150, 255, 177, are those that ST declined to provide so Metro felt it had to keep them running. The 216 family overlaps with the 554: their purpose seems to be to manage the busloads of crowds that can’t fit onto ST’s service, and to offer a skip-stop pattern.

    3. Mike, when the sawmills were still running, and what became Bellevue had more cows than people, I doubt that Ballard was the only separate city around that is now a neighborhood of Seattle.

      With none of them seized by armed force, but when their Chambers of Commerce convinced a lot of other residents that more customers, wider job selection, and combined utilities were well worth the effort to join a larger entity.

      Have read that not so long ago, average person never went more than twelve miles from home. Reason being that whether SOV (a horse or wagon) or bus (coach and team), that was a horse’s daily limit. Doubt there was much resistance to new power source. Especially after occasional hoof and mouth epidemic.

      Read “neighborhood” for King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties combined, and “Central Puget Sound Region” for Seattle. Based on most world history, however anguished and furious the folk songs, the more advanced the people who flocked to the new colors. In their own countries, present administations make people miss Dracula and Stalin.

      Like everything else human or otherwise alive, empires get old, corrupt, and superseded. But in our two separate countries, and spheres of influence, fortunately more people than Donald and Vladimir are already doing business on a very large scale. With all their people having at least a chance to be the better off for it.

      The reason it took me less than a month to move to an equally good life sixty miles away, while still keeping years old interests in Seattle, was because we had as much of a regional transit system as we do. And the faster we get our regional corridor down here, the larger, more fulfilling, and better paid my life will be.

      And from what I’m experiencing on every transit trip- or will again when Intercity Transit gets its own lanes on I-5, every single agency division makes my life needlessly harder. A scheduled wait at of three minutes at SR512 Park and Ride could give me another ride, single seat, to Sea-Tac Airport. Unsolvable problem? First letter S, second one A.

      For my years after Metro, a day of tutoring frequently started with a bus ride from Ballard to Downtown Seattle, another one to Highline Community College, with final loop to Kingsgate. Or Lynnwood. A lot of community college faculty live and work like that. And could have a decent life riding the integrated system promised us when regional system finally won, after losing one year before.

      Of course a larger entity works better the better its components work. And different viewpoints and approaches are necessary to all civic health. So I’ll settle for this much: Let agencies stay independent enough to keep the system refreshed with different outlooks and ideas.

      But for all agencies, say “Separate Agencies” to excuse one missed connection, and go join Steve Bannon, and his reality show creator, whose whole industry is Gross Misconduct.


    1. During their current contracts, businesses should be paying the same. Since Passport includes Sounder and other premium services, I don’t expect this fare change to have much impact on the cost of getting a contract renewal. That said, my understanding is that Passport tends to go low for new customers and raise the cost for returning customers.

  9. I see the fare equity issue as more relevant for short trips rather than long trips. I think that our current fare zones are silly. However, I think that trips less than about 1.5 miles should be cheaper for equity reasons.

    The only good ways to do this appear to be to either operate short-distance shuttles in denser areas (the LADOT solution), have an electronic ORCA refund for tapping off close to where a rider taps on, or promote distributing time stamp transfers for every passenger boarding that guarantees free travel for 2.5 hours regardless of direction.

    1. The shuttle option adds significant cost to the system, while providing questionable mobility benefit. Downtown has so many buses, the last thing it needs is a circulator bus up/down 3rd Ave. just to charge a cheaper fare.

      The tap-off option also has problems, in that it can easily be abused by people tapping off as soon as they get on, without actually getting off. It would be very difficult to enforce.

      1. Deactivate the readers when the bus is not near a stop, that’s how it is done in Singapore. Bus trips can’t be cancelled by tapping ORCA on the reader a second time anyway. You are going to have the same problems if we ever move to an all-door boarding, proof of payment system regardless of tap off. Would-be fare evaders are not even going to bother tapping the first time.

  10. If I haven’t made it clear, I wholeheartedly support this proposal as two steps forward. But I want Metro to take the next step, and move the cash fare up to $3 simultaneously. Putting three dollar bills instead of two dollar bills and three quarters in the farebox will be a real timesaver. Converting a lot of cash payers to ORCA users would be a bonus.

    With that improvement, the only riders having to pay with quarters would be youth, and that may change soon, too. The virtual end of change fumbling may be close at hand, if the council has the courage to improve the proposal.

    1. +1. Chicago and New York give extra credit if you put $20 or more on their cards. A cash surcharge is the flip side to an ORCA discount, so why not? The extra quarter of cash would even pay for itself. It could even raise enough to reduce or eliminate the ORCA card fee.

  11. Cash fare riders should pay a higher fare than ORCA users. Peak-hours-only long distance express riders should be charged a higher fare. Youth fare should be the same as Senior fare, to encouage families with children to use public transit. This summer was great, with kids paying just 50 cents with ORCA card. Keep the goodwill earned by that by not charging more than $1 youth fare when this summer promo ends.

  12. One more change I wish they would make. Institute a $5.50 inside-King-County daypass (ORCA only) and get rid of paper transfers. And/or increase the transfer window to 2.5 hours (ORCA only) and get rid of paper transfers.

  13. I’m assuming that existing buses like the Boeing service and Lakeside School buses will continue to charge a premium fare. The premium fares could be applied to commuter express type routes operated by Metro.

  14. Making it cheaper to ride a bus from the hinterlands because people can’t afford to live close to their jobs is solving the wrong problem. I would like to see tap-on tap-off truly distance-based fares (just like on link! So this is certainly doable), and plenty of housing in Seattle and the inner suburbs. That will serve people much better than forcing them to Sammamish and giving them a cheap ride to the few places the bus goes from there.

    1. Median rent for a 1BR in Seattle is $2,200. Median rent for a 1BR in Auburn is $1,100. That’s a difference of $13,200 per year. ($26,400/yr vs $13,200/yr) Where is a barista or janitor or nursing assistant or secretary supposed to cough up that kind of money? I understand the concern that we shouldn’t be subsidizing the ride for people to live in the hinterlands, although Auburn is about as densely developed with its sea of industrial parks alongside the sea of apartments complexes and subdivisions as, say, Seattle north of N 85th Street. Hardly hinterlands (hinterland, n., 1. the often uncharted areas beyond a coastal district or a river’s banks. 2. an area lying beyond what is visible or known.). To keep this region liveable, we need to work on both fronts, doing damage control to keep traffic to a minimum and keep transit a viable option for people barely scraping to get by while also aggressively fighting against the NIMBY-ism of certain residential neighborhoods of Seattle fighting to maintain the “character” of their neighborhoods, and also fighting to get employers to locate in places where their employees can actually afford to live. Allowing any more Amazons or Expedias or Russells or Weyerhaeusers to locate in Seattle without a specific plan to increase housing to accommodate all of the new employees would be absolutely foolish. Unfortunately, we are stuck with what we have in terms of jobs and housing stock, for now, and people need to be able to pay for rent, food, and transportation. Screwing the working poor who, undoubtedly, are doing the grunt work for Seattle’s wealthy, by sticking them with higher fares is about the most regressive thing I could possibly think of.

      I suppose at this point, I would advocate for the King County Council to relocate Harborview Medical Center to Federal Way, where the techs, nurses, radiologists, nursing assistants, LPNs, social workers, janitors, food service workers, and other non-physician staff can afford to live. Please tell me where in Seattle a CNA making nearly minimum wage or an entry-level nursing making $50k per year can afford to live and raise a family. Don’t like the prospect of your essential services moving out to the “hinterlands?” Well, if you aren’t willing to subsidize transit while SIMULTANEOUSLY fighting NIMBY-ism, that’s what you are going to see more and more of. Federal Way would put it near the centroid of the shifting demographic of low-income and at-risk patients that it has historically served, which is shifting south, away from Seattle. Those with the means can afford an ambulance ride. Maybe, too, close one of Seattle’s three community colleges and direct those resources to Everett College or Green River College, to provide better opportunities to students to get through college without needing to make extreme commutes or pay outrageous rent. Community college is supposed to be affordable, right?

  15. Michelle, would definitely take care of this summer’s Two Month Hate (I think the automatic loyalty session took Three Minutes in “1984.”

    Rather than treat, and fine, a passenger for tapping on, as decent common sense dictates, after forgetting to “tap off.” Create incentive to tap off by lower fare per tap, with missed taps costing most expensive ride.

    On less turn of a Phillips head threaded fastener.


    1. This is pretty simple to solve. Make the the maximum fare, say, $3. When you tap on, your card gets charged $3. When you tap off, the difference between the fare-based distance and the max cost is refunded. If you forget, there’s no fine – you just pay the maximum amount.

  16. As somebody who has lived near the edge of “fare zones,” three times in two states; and who commuted at times “near” the peak, all I can say is: “Thank God. Finally.” As a struggling college student and, later, a struggling debt-saddled young professional, I used to do some pretty long walks and stay-late-leave-early often to avoid the $0.25 and $0.50 penalties applied for living two-bus-stops-too-far and having hours that were slightly off-peak. Doesn’t sound like much to you and I (at this point in my life), but when you’re scrambling to pay rent and buy groceries, at two commutes per day, five to six days per week, it adds up. Complex zone and peak/non-peak fare structures are confusing and complicated and they penalize people who aren’t able bodied enough to walk a mile or have a life that is tied to a timeline because of things like childcare, school schedules, or work and bus schedules. I was lucky to have flexibility, but most people don’t have that flexibility, and we shouldn’t be penalizing people because of the work hours dictated by their employers, nor by whatever apartment they can afford to pay rent on.

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