County Council Committee Delays Card Fee Vote

Credit: Oran Viriyincy

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.

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Sound Transit Planning I-90 Bus Restructuring for 2018

A rendering of the future Judkins Park Light Rail Station Credit: Sound Transit

With no plans to add any new service in 2018, it’s back to maintenance mode for Sound Transit. Instead, the agency will concentrate on two large-scale Eastside bus restructures to be implemented in 2018 and 2019, according to the recently released draft of 2018 Sound Transit’s Service Implementation Plan. The plan combines five-year service planning with in-depth route and corridor performance data.

In 2017, the agency added two new Sounder round trips and invested 15,000 annual bus hours into ST Express.

Highlights from the proposed 2018 SIP:

Eastside bus restructuring

Construction will start next year on Judkins Park Station, closing the Rainier Freeway Station and D-2 Roadway, and requiring changes to bus routes that cross I-90. Sound Transit anticipates the board will consider service changes in early 2018 with implementation later that year. According to a spokesperson for Sound Transit, plans for I-90 bus route changes are not yet final but could be released as early as January.

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