King County Council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee quickly approved Metro’s fare simplification proposal that would eliminate zones and peak-rates — establishing a flat rate of $2.75. But the committee hesitated on a proposal to reduce card fees for adult and youth passengers from $5 to $3, delaying action until the next meeting.
Metro already waives the card fee for ORCA LIFT riders and proposed the eliminations of card fees for Regional Reduced Fare Permits, which the committee approved Tuesday.
But, Metro recommends continuing to charge card fees to adult and youth passengers, saying “the agency needs to balance discounts with service” and “customers have not identified card fees as a significant barrier.”
According to Metro, each card costs $8 to issue, which includes $2.50 in card costs plus tax, credit card fees and staff time to process the card and handle the sale.
Seven transit agencies use the ORCA card, and currently, the ORCA Joint Board, which is charged with setting system-wide policies, is in the process of establishing new card fees. The regional consensus has formed around the $3 charge for card fees for adult and youth riders, but Metro does have the option of setting its own card fees.