On Monday, the King County Council unanimously approved a fare simplification proposal for King County Metro Transit which eliminates higher zone and peak fares — establishing a flat rate of $2.75.
In August at a press conference Dow Constantine, King County Executive, announced the agency’s intention to streamline fares. Constantine said this change would speed up boardings. According to King County Metro, this change will not affect 65 percent of riders. Changes are set to take place July 2018.
Also approved Monday was $400,000 in additional funding for the Human Services Ticket Program, bringing the total to $4 million a year. This program provides subsidized bus tickets to human service agencies serving low-income residents. With 44 percent of these subsidized tickets used during off-peak hours, Metro said this additional funding will help offset the higher cost off-peak riders would pay under the new fare.
And the council approved eliminating the card fee for Regional Reduced Fare Permits, a regional transit pass for seniors 65+, riders with a qualifying disability, and Medicare cardholders that works on several systems within the region.
A proposal to reduce ORCA card fees for adult and youth riders is still being considered by the Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee. Metro has recommended reducing the cost of those cards to $3 from $5. Recently, STB analyzed the impact on Metro’s budget if card fees were completely eliminated.
According to Cheryl Huston, ORCA Regional Program Administrator, there is agreement among ORCA’s seven participating agencies to keep the card fee for adult and youth riders but reduce the one-time charge to $3 from $5. The ORCA Joint Board is close to approving a $3 region-wide ORCA card fee for adult and youth riders.