Sound Transit has rolled out a survey offering 2 options for restructuring ST Express bus fares.

Both options would institute flat reduced fares ($1.50 for low-income and youth riders and $1 for Regional Reduced Fare Permit holders), getting rid of the de facto county line surcharge for each of these payer categories. This is the first low-income fare reduction on any transit service, anywhere in the country, beyond the low-income fare set at implementation of a low-income fare category.

Option 1 would institute a $3.25 regular adult flat fare, splitting the difference between the current $2.75 single-county fare and the $3.75 multi-county fare.

Option 2 would keep the current adult fare levels of $2.75 and $3.75, based on whether the route crosses a county line, rather than the current honor system based on whether the passenger crosses the county line.

Both adult fare options would help fund the elimination of the county-crossing surcharges for reduced-fare riders. The new fares would take effect this coming June, along with Metro’s $2.75 flat fare, and Community Transit’s new route-based fares.

The Community Transit Board has not set the route-based fares, but has established a policy of having a single fare for each payer category for each route. The CT Board is expected to set the specific fares in March.

Fixing Option 2 by using express distance

Option 2 for the ST Express fares has the weirdness of charging a different fare on routes serving the same express trip. Route 577 would charge $2.75 while route 578 would charge $3.75, even though most of the ridership on these two routes is travelling between Seattle and Federal Way, and very few passengers on route 578 cross the county line.

To make Option 2 more sensible, base the bus routes charging the higher fare on express distance (how far the route travels without a stop).

Charge the lower fare on routes 512, 532, 535, and 574, which go no more than 11 miles between consecutive stops. They would be grouped with routes 522, 540, 541, 542, 545, 550, 554, 555, 556, 560, 566, 580, and 596, which are proposed to be $2.75 under Option 2, and none of which go more than 11 miles non-stop.

Charge the higher premium express fare on routes 567 and 577, which each go over 16 miles on their express portion. They would join routes 510, 511, 513, 578, 586, 590, 592, 594, and 595, which are proposed to be $3.75 under Option 2, and have a non-stop segment over 13 miles. This would leave roughly the same number of riders paying the premium fare as under Option 2, but using a more justifiable criterion. And then change the premium express route numbers to another series, such as 700s.

This may not go over well with riders on route 577/578, but if they want to keep their local fares, they should be prepared to drop their expectation that everyone gets a seat.

Speeding up boarding

Have a higher cash fare, set to the next-higher dollar amount, which would be $3 for the shorter distance BRTish routes and $4 for the longer-distance premium express routes. The $3/$4 cash fares would help fund the discount-fare reductions, discourage cash payment at the bus door, and reduce the impact of change fumbling among those still paying with cash. Indeed, this could turn out to be the most popular part of the fare restructure for those using ORCA. (ST Express does not accept mobile payment.)

Sound Transit is not a money tree

Some have suggested simply dropping all the fares to $2.75, and letting Sound Transit find another revenue stream to make up the difference, even though they know the state legislature and federal administration have also had the same philosophy for reducing car tabs and paying for tollways.

I agree that charging $3.25 to ride from Seattle to Bellevue is probably too much, but I don’t see how lowering the regular fares on specialty long-distance commuter routes serves a purpose, especially when Community Transit is charging $4.25 for nearly-identical trips.

A public hearing will be held on the fare proposals on Thursday, February 1 at noon at Union Station. In addition to taking the online survey, you can email comments to, call in comments to 1-866-940-4387, or snail mail comments to

Sound Transit
Attn. Kassandra Andrews
401 S. Jackson St.
Seattle, WA 98104

Addendum: If King County were to adopt an ordinance in the future charging a premium for Metro routes expressing more than 11 miles, eleven Metro routes would end up charging the premium fare: 143, 157, 158, 159, 177, 178, 179, 190, 192, 197, and 208. Setting the rule at 13 miles would leave routes 143 (expressing 12.3 miles) and 208 (expressing 12.6 miles) in the lower-fare category.

50 Replies to “Critiquing the ST Express Fare Restructure Proposals”

  1. I like it. For the north end buses to downtown, the discount bus (the 512) doesn’t run peak direction. So this becomes like the old “peak hour” rates, which is intuitive. The folks who are taking the fast commuter bus pay a little extra, but the people taking the slower bus in the middle of the day get a discount.

  2. How about some cross-agency cooperation and coordination to make things simpler for riders? My modest proposal:

    * All routes solely within King County should charge the same fares as King County Metro.
    * All routes solely within Pierce County should charge the same fares as Pierce Transit.
    * All routes solely within Snohomish County (are there any?) should charge the same fares as Community Transit local routes.
    * Routes between Snohomish County and King County should charge the same fares as Community Transit commuter routes.
    * Pierce Transit doesn’t seem to offer commuter service to Seattle, so Pierce to King County routes don’t need to match fares with anything. Maybe the Snohomish->King commuter fares would make sense to use here as well.

    How much would this change affect ST’s bottom line? If it’s not a huge decrease, I think it’s very worth considering for the sake of rider sanity.

    1. Complete BS for those of us who live near a county line. For my purposes, Federal Way and Auburn are suburbs of Tacoma, not Seattle, given the much closer proximity. The distance from Auburn to Seattle is 28 miles, and from Auburn to Tacoma is 14 miles, exactly half. Transit routes should reflect that status. I can walk across the county line from my house in under 5 minutes.

      Also, there are PT buses (five of them – that serve both King & Pierce in Auburn, Milton, and Federal Way, so there is commuter service from Pierce County to King County offered by PT. Sorry, Eric, Seattle isn’t necessarily the center of the universe for the taxpayers and transit users living in or near Pierce County. PT is actually providing a service to KING COUNTY residents by shuttling them down to Tacoma, where the nearest hospitals, doctors, employers, and social service agencies are located. If ST were to rigidly enhancing boundaries and borders, my response would be to suggest that PT cut off all service to King County and use the savings to enhance service exclusively inside the county, which funds their operations. King County can create the routes from Tacoma’s northern suburbs down to Tacoma for its residents if it wants to. Seems like an arrangement similar to what exists between Seattle and Snohomish County.

      1. PT does not “serve” King County. It crosses the boundary to let Pierce County residents access the nearest transit centers I. federal Way on Auburn, because it would be stupid to terminate in the middle of nowhere where there’s no ongoing route or regional transit. As for King County residents on PT in King County; that’s a corollary benefit and reciprocal service, and PT couldn’t offer it except that it piggyback on its primary responsibility to get PT taxpayers to the transit centers. Lakeland Hills is also a somewhat special case, since the housing development spans both counties and it makes more sense for the agencies to agree that one agency serves all of it rather than have two routes that stop at the boundary.

      2. Actually for those who live or work on Pacific Highway or along where Weyerhauser used to be, that is untrue as Pierce Transit is the only way to go. Edgewood and Milton too (KC portions anyway). Just saying

  3. “A public hearing will be held on the fare proposals on Thursday, February 1 at noon at Union Station.”

    Of course. How incredibly deaf of ST to hold a public hearing on the matter in the middle of the day when so many express bus commuters cannot attend.

    1. That’s a pretty standard lunch break time for many people.

      I doubt you would have many people coming from Tacoma or Everett on the bus stay late for an evening meeting. It means getting home awfully late.

      1. Nonsense. Very few people have the opportunity or time to get over to Union Station for such a public meeting during their “lunch break”. The meeting should be held in the evening so that many more concerned citizens can participate.

      2. Joe, how do you manage to get to Paine Field and Seattle on weekends and off-peak so much? Is it all Amtrak and Greyhound?

    2. Or perhaps set up a table with someone on site for an evening, say, at Federal Way and Lynnwood transit centers?

    3. It depends – midday works better for people with evenings commitments (job, family, etc.), and evenings work better for people with day jobs & free evenings. Best option is probably to simply hold two public hearings.

    4. Um, y’all could email your board members if you can’t make it in person. Or even if you can. Not every thought needs to be delivered in person.

  4. How ’bout this: For any complication at all, sell everybody not either disabled, below voting age, poor, or old beyond work an ORCA card at one price. And everybody else another. By the dollar, not a dime of metal change. Good for every conceivable trip in the solar system, and extra fare after that.

    Let’s learn from our wicked little brother the automobile, who scoped this out to great acclaim when Henry Ford turned the first crank in front of cameras going off with gunpowder, that nobody but the tax assessor, whom everybody hates, wants to see a county line.

    Starting noon today, likely I’ll leave Olympia for Port Townsend, take the ferry from Bainbridge Island to Seattle, drive to Tacoma for coffee, and then back to Olympia through Steilacoom, get a Reese’s ice cream bar, and home.

    Tomorrow, Tacoma to Sea-Tac, LINK to Beacon Hill for coffee at Station Cafe, University Street Station for the Art Museum, Kirkland for Lake Washington Tech visit and home however I feel like. My gas-easy car probably beams my travel to Planet Zorkon where Toyota has them all built (beeps a lot).

    And I guess Saudi Arabia knows every single gas-pump digit of my life. All these entities instantly have all of my money they need. And none of them care a pellet of organic rat fertilizer where I went. Wish Station Cafe got more money, but none of the rest of them care. And none is ever short on budget.

    So would everybody official who can even imagine the concept of a quarter just take a whole year and give your car to your kid in high school or college. You ride transit, they drive. End of year, compare travel expenses, and wasted time by they second.- should be an algorithm, unless those really are all in the Everglades.

    Then get back to us. Have to check with Toyota what my car’s readout is for “Give Us A Break!” No, not the rotors, I just had them checked.

    Mark Dublin

  5. I like option 1 honestly out of the 2, ST Express is a premium line of service. So it should reflect a similar said pricing structure for it as well.

    1. I don’t find ST Express premium at all. On the I90 corridor, the ST Express buses & route designs are pretty interchangeable with KCM (sometimes they literally run Metro buses). Frankly, the KCM routes are more express getting into Seattle from Eastgate.

      That’s why I like the “fixed” option 2. The proposed 700 series strikes me as the right group of ‘premium’ express service. In contrast, routes like 550, 545, 555 run like core Metro routes – they only have “express” segments insofar as they cross Lake Washington.

    2. I agree that ST doesn’t feel “premium” to me. On the northside, routes 312 and 522 are substantially similar, except that 312 makes a few more local stops in Lake City and Bothell, and 522 goes to Woodinville, and 312 is a more comfy bus. So it makes sense for routes 312 and 522 to charge the same fare.

    3. The 550 replaced two Metro routes. Charging $3 or $4 leads to the absurdity that the 550 to Bellevue costs much more than the 255 to Kirkland, just because of which routes happened to be converted to ST and which ones didn’t. We need something fair to short-distance riders, and something fair to those who live near a county border.

    4. Apart from what to charge for a specific route, one thing that would make things easier is to charge the same amount for the same route/pair of stops. Suppose I want to go from Brickyard to Totem Lake. I can pay $2.50 for a 237 or 342, $2.75 for a 535, or $3.25 for a 311. Similarly, from Totem Lake to Bellevue, I can pay $2.50 for a 237 or 342 or $2.75 for a 532/535. This leads to confusion about pricing.

      1. This confusion won’t happen because the Metro and ST fare restructures will roll out at the same time.

        A different confusion will happen if ST opts for the $3.25 flat fare. If ST opts for Option 2, all these fares will be aligned at $2.75.

      2. Sure it will. The 532/535 will be either $3.25 under option 1 or $3.75 under option 2 since they do cross a county line (even if you’re not crossing it). The metro routes will be $2.75.

      3. How about the 540. It’s essentially a truncated version of the 255, yet under option 1, it costs 50 cents more for the same trip.

        Fortunately, most people that commute on it likely have employer-paid passes, so it doesn’t really matter much.

      4. David L,

        Your first comment confused matters by talking about Metro fares pre-June-2018. My proposed fix for Option 2 would have all the routes you listed charging $2.75 post-June-2018.

        Granted, my proposed fix would have Metro express routes to Federal Way charging $2.75 and ST Express routes 577/578 charging $3.75. The deficiency there is that Metro ought to be charging a premium for expensive-to-operate long-distance express routes. History suggests they might just do that if ST leads the way. There is always a next fare restructure.

      5. “How about the 540. It’s essentially a truncated version of the 255, yet under option 1, it costs 50 cents more for the same trip.”
        Once the 255 is directed to UW station also, the routes will be interchangeable for many riders who should just take whichever bus comes first. Those fares should logically be the same.

        This is, perhaps, an argument for just dropping the 540 and having some additional runs on the 255, but balancing service hours between the agencies is unreasonably hard.

  6. I kinda like Brent’s fixed option 2. Certainly better than Sound Transit’s option 1 and 2. But I’d make a change: Make 577, 578 charge local ST Express fare.
    (full disclosure: I used to live in Federal Way and commute on the 577/578 5-7 days/week)
    While better than the inconsistency if charging different fares for 578 than 577, a few new issues come up. Peak-only Metro service (177-179) mirrors the 577, so having a higher fare will drive passengers to the Metro routes and leave the 577 under-utilized. It also creates a peak anti-surcharge, and fighting part of the goal of this fare simplification effort (which I think is severely misguided without and serious consideration of reducing the farebox recovery, even at the cost of some service hours).
    It would also make southern 578 trips make less sense. I think taking the 578 from Puyallup to FW is even slower than PT 402, so charging the premium price from Puyallup for any distance is not a good idea, as even Seattle-bound riders will have that slow drive through Sumner and Auburn.
    Speaking of Sumner, 578 is the only off-peak service to Sumner, and charging premium prices for that would seem to be out of place, as there may be 578-180 or 578-409 trips from Sumner that have a short length of express portion (or even no freeway travel at all, as 578 takes main street into Puyallup).

    1. It wouldn’t be unheard of for Metro to align their fare system to ST’s in the future (in this case, by adopting an identical rule for when a route falls into a premium-express category, and then setting that premium-express fare to, say, $3.75). Indeed Metro is getting ready to match their fares to 1-county ST Express. And now, ST is getting ready to yank the rug out from under that fare consolidation (under its preferred Option 1).

      The eventual solution for route 578 will likely involve truncation at Federal Way TC Station. In the meantime, we’re talking about a handful of passengers on a route that is overwhelmingly about Federal Way riders getting a 20-mile express bus to Seattle. And Sumner doesn’t pay Pierce Transit taxes, so it doesn’t seem terribly unjust to charge them a little more.

    1. 1. That would slow down deboarding, and/or require expensive rear-door readers, and cost money to implement.

      2. It would widen the difference with Metro’s fares for similar trips. You would start charging more before you reached Metro’s 2-zone boundary, and Metro is about to eliminate that boundary completely leading to a flat $2.75 fare, which is the same as ST’s one-county fare.

      1. 1. Any deboarding slowdown could be offset with onboarding thru both doors.

        2. This is the real issue, keeping the new fare structure relevant. It should just be 2.75$

  7. In favor of the modified (2) express/regular fare based on the distance between stops rather than arbitrary county lines.

    Fare by distance: in principle great, might save me $50c – $1 for equivalent distances of LINK within the transit tunnel. Multiplied by two, it may encourage me to use the bus instead of Lyft when I’m out with my wife in the evening. But it’s probably not cheap to install and maintain at least two orca readers on each bus.

    Best way to encourage orca (or tickets instead of cash) is probably more orca. For example, it looks like none of the transit centers in Snohomish have orca machines!? (

  8. OK.

    1. Absolutely rounded to the dollar. Or, above the dollar, next dollar up. Saved operating time worth the lower one. To system and passengers alike.

    2. Day Pass system-wide, voting age and above. Five dollars. Glenn, what’s Portland now? After that, sliding scale as individually necessary, whatever reason.

    3. Most Encouraged: Monthly Pass, whatever ST Board members’ own constituents tell them by survey, then negotiated among the Board.


    Not kidding about the cute furry little Tapmunk. The Seat-Hog’s law abiding brother. Show them arm-over-each other’s shoulder, one seat each. Give a little stuffed one to kids with their first ORCA card. They’ll give parents irresistible reminder every time they see a yellow post.

    5. Before today’s out, I’m calling and e-mailing ATU Local 587 and telling them to demand a very long meeting with Sound Transit Board. To explain cost of lost-operating time over farebox discussion of different fares on buses traveling same route. No need for them to call a work slow-down. Passengers wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

    Anybody know cost of one minute operating delay? And what percentage of cost do fares really cover. So my call: For one year, do whatever’s simplest. Give anyone unable to earn bus fare because of age, physical condition, or underemployment, a reasonable break on cost.

    And apportion same way between agencies. Because like I keep saying under term “Regional”, every day our changing living patterns are more and more making every agencies’ service carry ever more of each others’ residents for larger part of their trips. Let’s help them all carry all of us a lot faster for our money.

    Mark Dublin

    1. I think Portland is $5 for a daypass, systemwide. Gresham to Hillsboro.

      $2.50 for a 2-hour pass.

      Wish we would do that, even if our price were $2.75/$5.50 or $3/$6

    2. Day passes in Portland and San Jose are twice the regular fare. In other words, if you’re going to make more than one trip per day, you’re encouraged to get a day pass. There’s no special weekend-only paper pass that isn’t widely publicized and you have to know about and ask the driver for like Metro used to have, or going to a certain store, or weighing whether you’ll use than 3 1/2 regular fares that day like the current program of it still exists. you just think, “I’m making a found trip; I should get a day pass; then any additional trips will be free; and I won’t have to spend time dropping money into the fareboz each time.”

      However, cities that have have a w-fare day pass also usually have a flat fare, and light rail is the same fare as buses. the reason Pugetopolis has such a high fare for its day pass is the horror that people might take two long-distance Sounder trips at a discount, or more than two inter-county ST Express trips. Rgere’s a tradeoff between flat fares and regional pass integration.

    3. I posted the below in an earlier open thread relating to an article about the proposed BRT line in Surrey, BC. The comment was about a rendering of an at-grade station showing fare gates used to enter the station’s platform area (the thread was “Wrong Getaway Vehicle,” where you can find a link to the article with the rendering). I think this is the best way to nearly – if not completely – eliminate the tap-on/off issue Mark frequently mentions.

      “An interesting thing I noticed about the Surrey article is the inclusion of fare gates at a rendering of a station that is very similar to our at-grade Link stations. As I’m a big believer in using these – no worries about tapping on/off, lower fare evasion rate (no way to forget to tap – if you’re in the system’s fare paid areas without having paid, you’re an evader); Mark’s oft-stated tap on/off issue goes away as either the gates open or they don’t when you tap; no worries about possibly having to tap to transfer when we have an expanded network with multiple lines – it’s clear that the “reason” we don’t do this is a red herring.

      It would be no less easy to avoid the gates in Surrey than on MLK – I assume that they intend to have a fare inspector/security/station attendant staff member on site at all times, which we should do as well at the very least at our handful of at-grade stations. Pretty easy for them to spot and ticket a fare evader walking around the gates at track level, as opposed to not tapping at a reader off to the side!”

    4. I don’t understand why even spelling I corrected in my phone still shows up wrong when it posts. Some mistakes are things I didn’t notice; others are things i corrected but they somehow went through to the post anyway.

    5. Skytrain has had proof of payment (i.e., no gates) for decades, including the last time I rode it. Since then I think they’ve been on-again, off-again about installing fare gates, and I don’t know how certain Surrey’s gates are. The issues for Link remain as they’ve always been: it has a moderate number of passengers, and a 3% nonpayment rate. Of that, some percent is intentional fare evasion by people who could afford to pay, others are honest mistakes due to the design of our tapin/tapout system and location of readers, and others are people who can’t afford to pay (and who may or may not jump the gates even if they were installed). We do allow people who can’t afford to pay to ride Metro buses, so there’s a double standard between Metro and Link, and the government has some moral responsibility to provide minimum mobility to get to social services, grocery stores, and job interviews. But regardless of all that, it costs a certain amount of money to install fare gates. ST has determined that the cost to install the gates is not worth it compared to the amount of new fares it would collect. People who don’t pay now have three choices if gates are installed: to pay the fare, to not take Link, or to jump the gates. Only one of those results in additional fare revenue. So it won’t be 100% “fare recovery”, but only 33% to 50%.

      There is another solution, however. You don’t need real gates, you just need narrow “doowrays” that look like open gates, and ORCA readers positioned right in tront of the person at hand-to-eye level. I’ve forgotten to tap because the reader is unobtrusive on the side or behind me, the “fair paid zone” sign is up above where I’m looking, and I’m thinking about something else and acting mechanically. That describes a lot of people every day, and it’s unrealistic to expect them to dedicate 100% full attention to remembering to tap. The human mind doesn’t work that way: it takes a lot of energy to put your full conscious attention into everything, you can’t do it for long periods of time, and you can only focus on a few things at a time so it lowers your overall performance. So the solution is an obvious “doorway”, prominent no matter which direction you’re looking or what else you’re thinking about, and an ORCA reader right in your line of vision that will remind you to tap. That is inexpensive to install: you just need a good designer, and three strips of metal and wood or paint stripes to make the fake door with. And make the passage narrow: one person passing right next to the reader and the side edges. That would eliminate the problem of forgetting, and gain ST at least a third of the lost revenue and pass-taps.

      Sometimes I can’t remember if I tapped on, and I have to go back upstairs and tap twice to make sure (one to cancel, one to reinstate). It’s annoying to have to either do that or have an underlying fear that an inspector may find I haven’t tapped. I’ve also forgotten more than once to tap out, both at Kent Station which I rarely use and where the reader is not in front of you, and at Beacon Hill station where the readers are behind you on the side when you exit the elevators. In Kent I remember only when I’m on the next bus and it’s too late to go back and tap out.

      1. I’m not sure about this, Mike: “People who don’t pay now have three choices if gates are installed: to pay the fare, to not take Link, or to jump the gates. Only one of those results in additional fare revenue. So it won’t be 100% “fare recovery”, but only 33% to 50%.” You’re making a large assumption that the majority of the fare jumpers (50% to 67%) are not going to ride or are going to jump the gates – something that in other systems with fare gates I’ve traveled on I think I’ve only seen twice. I would posit that a substantial majority of people failing to pay fares now, either by omission or commission, would do so were there gates. Mark’s example is an example of omission, where there is clearly no intent not to pay but rather being victimized by an easily forgettable task, and then being made to feel like a criminal for having forgotten it. It would seem to me that this behavior on the part of ST would be far more likely to drive away riders than the addition of fare gates would. If you’re avoiding fares by commission – gate jumping – you may well be doing so as a “target of opportunity” – you were going to ride anyway and would have paid, but the risk/reward of not getting caught by a fare inspector gives these people motive for not paying. These by definition would be full-fare (not pass) users and that entire fare is lost. It also makes the rest of us feel like suckers, much as we do when we see transfer traders game the bus fare system.

        Perhaps 3% is considered marginal and not worth trying to recover, but that’s not an insignificant amount overall – particularly when you take into account that you would likely recover much of that. That – even at your 50% guess – would certainly pay for the installation of gates at existing stations; at new stations they would be included as part of the design. Otherwise, you’re also not only forgoing the 3% or significant fraction thereof, you’re forgoing gaining accurate data on the use of your system. At the station exit I use the most, the top of the stairs at the Denny exit at Capitol Hill, it’s often 20-25% of people that walk straight past the (badly sited) card readers. There may not be much fare evasion there – I’d guess that these are people with passes who see no purpose to tapping out – but their data is lost and has to be extrapolated. It likely also gives an inaccurate revenue count as I assume the data would read a card tapped-on but not off as a max fare – which it more than likely isn’t.

        A less-quantifiable reason is that gates create a clear delineation between “public” and “private” (paid) spaces. It makes the system more legible; more “foolproof.” You pay here, you exit there. It’s easier to enforce fare jumping at the platform gates than it is on trains, especially as the system gets bigger – can you imagine Husky/Sounders/Seahawks level crowds on trains being effective for on board fare enforcement? They certainly don’t do that in London or Singapore. It also adds another level of security, comfort, and assistance for passengers by having station attendants-cum-fare enforcement personnel.

        If we won’t do this, I do wholeheartedly agree that creating de facto gates through the use of strategically placed card readers and barriers (your “doorways”; and something we see already at Sea-Tac) would at least help with the reminder that you need to tap. Your paragraph on how easy it is to forget this is one of my major points. However, what you’ve really described is creating fare gates that aren’t actually fare gates. It’s substantially better than what we do now, where we tuck the little yellow buggers out of the way sometimes, but it’s in effect doing the same thing – creating an obvious barrier between fare paid and unpaid space. I’d be all in favor of that.

      2. “At the station exit I use the most, the top of the stairs at the Denny exit at Capitol Hill, it’s often 20-25% of people that walk straight past the (badly sited) card readers.”

        Some of them have non-tappable day-pass tickets, which they either bought then or earlier in the day. Of course it’s impossible to tell how many have a ticket vs how many aren’t paying

  9. Within King County many Sound Transit routes are interchangeable with Metro routes and are not more premium or express than Metro routes. That is particularly true of the I-90 and SR-520 routes. One of the benefits of Metro’s change to a flat $2.75 fare was that all the in-county fares were going to be the same, so the service and fares are interchangeable. So option 1 is a non-starter and a step backwards.

    Personally I’d prefer Sound Transit just keep the 2 fare structure with in-county and intra-county fares. Is it really that hard? Otherwise, I agree with Brent’s formula that puts the premium fare on the routes with long non-stop segments, and the lower fare on routes that also serve shorter in-county segments.

    1. Keeping ST’s fare zones is at least familiar to riders, and is no worse than the status quo: it’s only iniquitable to those in Mountlake Terrace going to King County, and those in Federal Way going to Tacoma, and other short cross-border trips like that (some of which are unlikely, like Lynnwood to 145th, because the latter is in the middle of nowhere with no bus to transfer to).

      1. …. and Auburn to Sumner….and Auburn to Puyallup… the list goes on and on. That’s why option 1 makes the most sense.

      2. Better to just make the route keep the lower fares as in Brent’s revised option 2. No reason to make the ST 550, 554 and 540 priced differently than MT 212/214, 271, 255

        Why should Dupont to Seattle be the same price as Bellevue to Seattle? Especially when Link charges you by the mile – the Link fare for that distance would probably be over $6

      3. “and Auburn to Sumner….and Auburn to Puyallup”

        I thought those were unlikely because there aren’t a lot of things in Auburn, Sumner, and Puyallup for somebody to go to between them. Witness the low ridership on the 578’s tail.

      4. +1 John Slyfield

        Mike Orr, Auburn has over 70,000 residents, a hospital, a thriving industrial area, a Boeing plant, Green River College, and a growing downtown. Sumner has a similarly-sized industrial area. Puyallup has close to 40,000 residents, a hospital, the State Fair, and Pierce College Puyallup Campus. No, they are not collectively as big as Seattle or Bellevue. But, yes, we do pay in to ST, and a Puyallup-Auburn commute is probably about as common, as a percentage of population, as an Issaquah-Kirkland or Northgate-Lynnwood commute.

  10. No secret by now that I’ve got a major difference in concept about our transit system with just about everybody else in these pages. To me, entire Sound Transit a transit pass in a ticket to our whole service area. What’s good analogy- museum’s exhibits, cafeteria and restrooms? More like a State Park. Pay or show pass at the gate. Drive five miles or fifty- taken care of.

    “Distance based” is for Seattle to Portland or Spokane. How many present LINK stations would still be in the City of New York? Difference also between a bus- or LINK- and a taxicab: The cab doesn’t move ’til there’s somebody is aboard to pay for it. Transit driver gets paid same per hour, crush load or empty. Same with diesel fuel and electricity.

    A pre-paid pass is not only simple- which in itself saves a fortune in operating time and good PR- but easy way to handle all fare adjustments so that, as promised, the system at least keeps its seams out of sight. Including twenty-five cent calculations. And maybe a simpler way yet to look at distance-based. How finely are or sewage costs distance- calculated? Honestly curious.

    But still also seems to me there’s an easy way to settle this. Take a usual fare-change period to do it my way. And let Steve O’ban sit in accounting with an abacus- I think in every part of a transit system, from fares to schedules to routes to train-parts, simple wins.

    Mark Dublin

  11. Since this matter goes to a very deep feeling of mine about relations between divisions of Government, one comparison really says the whole thing, which for me is end of discussion.

    Two reasons the State can’t depend on gas-tax revenue to cover highways. Even if people would tolerate their cars being monitored. Which they won’t. Not only less gasoline sold. But also -ever fewer cars. Forget running out of gas, water, air or time- we’re out of room. So a free and enjoyable life will require transit-instead-as flexible and easy to use as cars have been up to now.

    For scores of years, cars haven’t respected city, county, or State lines. And not far off, international borders either. And also, luckily, neither will our own lives. Also fortunate- we’ve got the ability to build a transit system that will let us keep changing both homes, workplaces, schools, and recreation as often as we need to, and/or feel like it. Like cars used to, except our settings won’t be Planet Parkinglot anymore.

    Distance at regional speed, let alone interstate, will ever less be worth any attention. Like the Grange- boundaries. Picket or barbed wire fences, I forget- can’t soon enough to leave that fare calculaton in same drawer as tape measures and string.

    Mark Dublin

  12. I honestly like what ST has right now; fares that match what will be metro’s fares in July.
    I’d prefer they move it to 2.75 and increase the price to ride light rail

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