King County

Last summer, King County Metro and Sound Transit agreed to lower youth fares for ORCA users from $1.50 to 50 cents (Metro) and $1 (Sound Transit) for the season. Many students get free passes for the school year, but pay the full fare during the summer (here defined as June 17 – September 4).

Ridership isn’t always terribly responsive to fare changes, but this is not one of those cases. Youth ORCA card use shot up 34%, 39%, and 42% for Metro, ST Express, and Link respectively over Summer 2016 counts. It is unclear if this is new riders or the conversion of cash-paying riders to ORCA, but it’s a data point that suggests incentives to not use cash drive ORCA conversion. This comes out to over 1,500 additional boardings per day. Metro also handed out 11,000 youth ORCA cards during the promotion.

Youth cards remain available via mail, or in person at a handful of locations.

5 Replies to “Youth Fare Cuts Achieve Their Goal”

  1. It was a hint of hope that youth ORCA cards were temporarily free, and are now back to $5 (while regular adult bus smart cards are universally much less expensive than that anywhere in the US outside of the Seattle area).

    It was also disturbing that the county council didn’t bat an eye when eliminating the RRFP card fee, er “administrative fee”, and then proceeded to hem and haw about reducing the youth card fee from mega-expensive to super-expensive.

    I’m hoping that reducing the youth fare to be the same as the RRFP fare (as it used to be before the recession, which, btw, is over) is part of Phase II of Metro’s fare restructure process, but if that happens, I also expect they will then eliminate the youth card fee, and have permission from the ORCA pod to do so. Having to pay $5 to get access to more affordable fares and the privilege of being more courteous to one’s fellow riders still doesn’t make sense.

    And in the case of the youth card, as you point out, it takes work to obtain, and so shouldn’t be subject to the agencies’ concerns about the cards being treated as disposable.

    On the availability score, I hope youth cards become available at all locations that distribute LIFT cards. It is wonderful that the kids of every adult who qualifies for LIFT also get a free youth card. It is not so wonderful that adults who go in and get turned down because they make slightly too much money might also leave empty-handed in their attempt to acquire youth cards. (I don’t recall if every place that gives out LIFT cards also has a supply of youth cards.)

    1. If there was a LIKE button to the above comment, I would give it.
      Having the youth summer fare was a great incentive for families to use public transit more.
      I still miss the good old Metro family-friendly days when kids accompanied by an adult could ride for free on Sundays and Holidays.

  2. I loved the Chicago CTA, elevated, subway, and a few sections surface. They’ll have Electroliners in Heaven. And their conductors, ticket agents, and by connection, the Chicago and North Shore’s every official, rule, and policy. Ticket-punches won’t even have to be gold.

    But the family 1954 Cadillac sedan I learned to drive on was my first “artic.” Should have had a hinge and at least a trolley-pole. Yeah pantograph, better. Hindsight. But like most people in those years, I saw that car as a cooperating part of same world as the trains. Different car now. Transit part…right now still deciding.

    In 1952 nobody had to be shoved into a new Chevvy at gunpoint. But literally nobody foresaw how much automotive “freedom of the road” depended on buses and streetcars keeping trainloads of cars in their owners’ driveways at rush hour. But spoken or no,t day-to-day mode choice was taken for granted.

    This is the phase we are now swinging back into.For average STB reader, especially if you’re on the Sound Transit Board, best years of our lives. Getting people finally able to use transit to choose, rebuild, and refresh it.

    So who gives anything Presidentially repulsive, indecent, and insulting whether school-age passengers think their cards are disposable!? What is absolutely in-de-spensible is a respectful, friendly welcome to prove that transit doesn’t considerTHEM disposable. By age fourteen, official mistreatment is lifelong never-forget-never-forgive. And the more expensive the car, the sweeter the revenge.

    Adult-caliber respect? Back atcha in spades. An early-age ride on something fast and electric sticks like a tattoo. Parent-passengers tell me their kids love their train-ride a lot better than its destination. But respect by somebody in any anybody’s uniform decides lifetime loyalty or enmity to all authority. Fast and forever.

    Good habit for the whole transit-operating world, especially the Sound Transit Board: Every passenger you see of the age under discussion here, count number of years until a train-load of them can decide which ST- will live. Or die like a dog at he hands of the disrespected , with eighty years of no-votes to gleefully look forward to.

    Mark Dublin

  3. if someone paid for a youth Link or Sounder ticket or day pass at a station TVM, did they get the summer discount fare?

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