Video by Welwyn22

For those of you who, like me, have been caught miscounting taps before boarding Link Light Rail or Sounder, Sound Transit is going to make the system more user-friendly. Per ST spokesperson Kimberly Reason, a change to the “tap off” tone, to make it unique from the “tap on” tone, is in the works. However, there is no timeline yet for when the change will happen. The change is in the work queue for ST’s information technology vendor.

It will still be possible to forget to tap at all, and get warned and given a $124 citation even if you have a monthly pass covering the highest possible fare for the ride. State law sets the minimum fine.

Nor is there any plan to deal with the regressiveness of the flat $124 ticket. That fine still seems out of proportion for riders with limited financial means who have already paid $36 for a monthly Regional Reduced Fare Permit ORCA pass or $54 for a youth or LIFT monthly pass. Even high school students with free unlimited monthly passes on a youth ORCA card could be cited. I got to talk briefly with a fare enforcement officer, and he confirmed that even students with passes that are free to the student get warned and could get the $124 citation.

The state sets the minimum fine (which is slightly more than enough to cover court administrative costs when the fine actually gets paid), but Sound Transit could choose to increase the number of warnings for riders in different fare groups, or at least do so for full passholders or some groups of reduced-fare riders, or simply honor full passes.

Sound Transit’s argument about making sure to get its fair share of revenue split from passes and multiple rides with a transfer is weak when one considers that lots of riders (this author included) tap on for a train, and then end up catching a bus that comes first, in which case Sound Transit gets revenue for a ride it did not provide if the rider fails to cancel the train tap-on. [ST spokesperson Bruce Gray offered a correction. However, he did not specify how much time has to elapse after tapping on for Link or Sounder before a “tap off” is automatically performed to the account, preventing a bus tap-on from cancelling the ride.]

Per Reason, ST does not keep statistics for how many monthly passholders get warnings or citations for mis-tapping or failure to tap. But ST will still be able to see if recorded “fare evasion” goes down year-over-year after the tones become unique.

With Metro getting ready to have fare enforcement on all its 3rd Ave buses starting in fall 2019 and Community Transit getting ready to roll out a second SWIFT line next year, it may be time for the three agencies to take a fresh look at the impact of dishonoring passes. Basically, their theory goes, they get a little bit more revenue for their agency from the pass (a point on which this author is skeptical). However, it also reduces the incentive to get the pass. So, Transit as a whole may lose money. It certainly will if it loses the passenger. This is a case of transit agencies hurting each other, and the customers, by not Acting As One. A mutual de-escalation agreement may be in order.

In related good news, ST is slowly but surely improving the diversity of its Fare Enforcement Unit. Per Reason, the breakdown for the Fare Enforcement Officers is:

13 White, 2 Asian, 2 Hispanic, 2 Hispanic, 5 Black
5 Females, 17 Males

The FEO Supervisors and Manager are:
4 White, 1 Black
2 Females, 3 Males

ST has limited control over the hiring practices of its FEO contractor, Securitas.

Neither state law nor Sound Transit’s Board-approved policy require ST to dishonor passes when the passenger mis-taps or fails to tap. That’s actually determined at the level of staff rules. While ST’s fare enforcement practices are not yet at the level of best ethical business practices, Sound Transit is clearly trying not to be tone-deaf to fare enforcement issues.

51 Replies to “Tapping ORCA Will Soon Get Less Confusing”

  1. Wait, what? Sound Transit has an “FEO contractor?” An “FEO contractor” who issues $124 fines enforced by a court of law? I thought that only parking fines could be issued by someone not a “Public Safety Officer” (e.g. “cop”).

    So drivers are protected from the egregious errors of inattentive, greedy capitalist contractors and the cold, impersonal face-recognition software of speed and “Red Lane” enforcement, but transit riders aren’t? How many ways can the State of Washington flaunt its scorn for transit riders?

    1. The Washington State Legislature isn’t legislating mistakes in ST’s fare enforcement practices. The confusing taps, and the failure to honor passes, is Sound Transit’s own goal. At least now, someone has finally reviewed the tap, and the ST team can learn how to stop scoring own goals that enrage their best customers and advocates, like Erica Barnett and Mark Dublin. The Board can step in and insist on honoring passes, without any further change in state law.

      Nor is the Washington State Legislature blocking the City of Seattle from paining 3rd Ave red. That is the City’s own goal. Camera enforcement would be the icing on the cake, but for now, cars on 3rd Ave outside of peak hours is still legal, at the City’s choice, and is making it very difficult to get cars off of 3rd Ave during the two daily weekday periods of maximum constraint, or during any other time that buses get stuck behind SOVs leaving large events.

    2. The Board is councilmembers and mayors, so we can approach them from that standpoint. Rob Johnson and Jenny Durkin are very pro-transit, so what do they think about reforming the pass-tap policy?

    3. Are you familiar with the WA State Supreme Court case State of Washington v. K.L.B. (a minor)? The court reversed the appeals court decision, which itself had affirmed the juvenile court of jurisdiction, on the matter of whether such contracted fare enforcement officers are indeed “public servants” under RCW 9A.04.110. The lower courts’ decisions affirmed that they were; the WA State Supreme Court disagreed and reversed.

      Here’s the link to the case:

      1. Thank you, Tlsgwm. I apologize for in the past having lumped you in with the right-wing nut jobs that land here from time to time. You’re clearly well-informed and committed to making Washington a better place.

        To the topic, Brent is clearly right that it’s entirely within ST’s power to direct Securitas to honor a displayed pass. Mike is completely correct that the ST Board ought to be bright enough to listen to people outside the Sound Transit bureaucracy who demonstrate some fundamental literacy with transportation theory. And, finally, the legislature could change the law so that automated enforcement was easier to employ.

        Yes, I understand that bored and craven “officers” of a contracting company might indeed be lazy and prone to “making my quota”. It’s very common that the interface between government and private providers is rife with corruption.

        That doesn’t mean that face-recognition software, properly vetted, can’t be the “backstop” for many automated enforcement tasks. As I said in a previous post, if face-recognition software could pick Mohammed Atta out of a crowd of bearded Pakistanis and Afghanis in a market in the “Federally Administered Tribal Areas”, it can differentiate between a real person and a blow-up doll.

        And it can also reliably identify a Red Lane violator.

        Sure, if a person challenges the identification an actual officer should verify it. After the first seventy-five cock-strutting wingers “challenge” the identification and lose in court, people will accept that it’s accurate.

  2. One factor that is probably a significant source of forgotten taps is when people arrive in the downtown tunnel via a bus. Unlike normal Link rides, you never pass by an Orca reader after you get off the bus, since you’re already right where you need to be to catch the train, as soon as you get off. Yes, Orca readers do exist at the platform level, but you might not necessarily walk by one.

    It will be interesting to see in the removal of buses from the tunnel next year reduces the number of “missed taps”, in and of itself.

    1. Exactly this is why I got my (so far) only ticket, I got on at Convention Place to get into the tunnel, got off at Westlake, and forgot to re-tap for Link because I always only do it on the concourse above.

      1. I hope you plan to challenge the citation in court. It sounds like ST is in the wrong.

      2. Brent, No, ST is not “in the wrong”. Securitas is in the wrong. And why and I not surprised. Those people probably have a daily quota of tickets to write, and if one missed the change to ding Ness A, she or he might have gotten on “the list”.


      3. Do they have a quota of tickets? I thought they were just supposed to inspect people, not write a minimum number of tickets per day. ST says they’re not doing it for the money.

      4. Couldn’t get ahold of anyone to get any information, didn’t want to risk melting down in public and causing myself more problems (I had to borrow the money to pay it as it was).

      5. Well. then @Ness A,

        I hope Peter Rogoff is reading this, and offers to have ST reimburse you everything this wrongful citation has cost you, and take quick action to update ST staff policy to stop the wrongful citations.

        We know of three victims just among the writers and commentariat here at this blog. It is happening way too frequently. It is wrong. It must stop. It wouldn’t cost ST much money to make the victims whole.

    2. Most of my missed taps are not in the DSTT. They’re at UW Station, Beacon Hill Station, etc. Although at Beacon Hill and Kent Station, my main problems have been tapping out rather than tapping in, because the readers are not in your line of sight. At UW and Capitol Hill it’s just a matter of forgetting, or having to go back upstairs and tap twice more because I don’t remember if I tapped this time.

      1. I really don’t get why they can’t put a reader or two on the platforms at UW and Capitol Hill. The UW station has some on the mezzanine level, which helps a bit, since it can be a logjam getting on and off there during rush hour. But at Capitol Hill, it’s street level or nothing. The readers don’t take cash, so there’s to be no good reason to be so stingy with them.

  3. The need to make this tone change was so obvious that it should have been when Link opened. The fact that ST still hasn’t released a target date for it isn’t very encouraging.

    I also find it curious that senior administration didn’t reveal the news, such as at a Board meeting. They’ve had to have many complaints about this.

    1. If you watch the video, you may notice that, at one time, “Cancel” was the same tone as “Tap On” and “Tap Off”. Sound Transit got part of the message, and fixed that years ago.

  4. The premise that ST gets paid if you tap an ORCA reader in the bus tunnel but get on a bus is wrong. Once you tap on the bus, ORCA knows how to allocate the $$ accordingly. With the trains, you aren’t charged until you tap off because it’s a distance-based system.

    1. Thanks for the clarification.

      Does ST not get paid *every* time a rider doesn’t tap off, or just when the rider taps on for a bus within a certain time window?

      1. I believe if you tap on in the tunnel, but then never tap again (neither tap on a bus, or tap off at another station), it’s treated as a Link trip with maximum distance (i.e. assumes you went the full length of the line).

        But don’t quote me on that.

      2. My understanding is that your first tap gives you either a full hour or an hour and a half’s transit before time simply runs out. During which time you can run a marathon on and off trains from UW to Angle Lake.

        If you forget and deliberately tap on, which every printed warning demands, reads a tap-off. Costing you $124 for the travel your first payment would’ve legally entitled you to if you’d been less diligent about tapping on, which the law says is your duty.

        Amount of missing information about either the offense or its avoidance is probably illegal in itself. Same for records about prosecutions and penalties. Very curious about why absolutely nobody has filed a legal challenge all these years.

        My guess is that given the income-irrelevant fine, well-paid defendants just have their secretaries take care of it by mail or online. Anybody on average transit-riders’ income…can you call the court and ask for terms, or do you have to go to Shoreline?

        Speaking of which…Why hasn’t Transit Riders’ Union gone public on this yet- or did I miss something? Anyhow, Brent, if this one’s mine, I’ll do the best I can. Can you have STB put me in touch with you.


      3. My partner’s a paralegal, so they tried calling the Courthouse to get some information when I got my ticket; it played a recording and the system hung up on them at the end. They tried two more times, same thing. Then the ticket wasn’t even entered into the system until nearly 10 days after issuance, which is a problem since you’re only given 15 days.

        I’ve been up to the Shoreline Courthouse before, and the courthouse workers were generally pretty helpful and knowledgeable, so that’s a plus.

      4. Does a rider who forgets to tap Off on a distance-based system get charged full fare to the final destination instead of to the stop where getting off? Or get a fine instead? I am confused.

      5. If you tap on, but don’t tap off, you get charged the maximum fare for any trip originating from the point you at which you tapped on. You shouldn’t get fined. Which means, if you have a pass that covers the full length the route, you can omit the tap-off, without any financial consequences.

        However, even then, I do *not* recommend omitting the tap-off, and here’s way. If you begin *another* Link trip too close to when the previous trip ended (I don’t know what the time threshold is), the system will think the tap “on” for your next trip is the tap “off” from the previous trip, so, even though you thought you were tapping “on”, you *still* might get hit with a fine if a fare inspector catches you. (This problem will be mitigated greatly, once the tap-on and tap-off have distinct tones, as described in this post).

        Because of this, best to just be in the habit of tapping on and off for every Link trip – even if you have a pass. (This includes remembering to tap “off” if you tap “on” in the DSTT and end up boarding a bus, instead of a train).

      6. Actually, now that I think about it – if you tap on the DSTT, then board a bus, will your tapping the same Orca card on the bus automatically cancel the “tap on” for Link? Or is the tap-on for Link still registered? The answer to this question, I have no idea, but it matters. If I guess wrong, the tap-on for my return trip might count as a tap-off, leaving me vulnerably to a possible fine, should the fare inspectors arrive.

      7. Another issue will arise when Link has more than one line. Will people have to tap out of one line and in to another? On BART you don’t, you just tap out at your final destination. But ST has not been exactly reassuring about making transfers easy, what with no early design for walking paths at U-District, Intl Dist, and Westlake. New York and Chicago don’t have tapout so the issue doesn’t arise.

  5. Is anyone at ST or Metro aware of the Spanish translation for the word “FEO”? It must be amusing for Spanish speakers to see cops with the word “FEO” on their shirts. “Feo” = “ugly” in Spanish.

      1. The ST uniform has never said FEO, but the Metro uniform used to have FEO written on it. I haven’t seen a RapidRide fare checker in a long while, so maybe it has been removed.

  6. Procedural issues aside, $124 for “fare evasion” is excessive. If street parking tickets increased from $47 to $124, the Seattle Times would be calling for the violent overthrow of Seattle’s city government.

    1. You do have a point. It does seem odd for not paying a light rail fare to cost more than twice as much as not paying a parking meter.

      But one could argue that if the fine we’re only $47 that people might decide to deliberately take their chances and hope they don’t get caught. The cheaper the fine, the more fare inspectors you need to make paying the fare cost less than not paying it.

    2. Since lowering the fine is not an option, a fairer way to make the fine appropriate for the fare would be to divide the fine by the monthly pass cost, and make that the number of warnings someone gets per year before being cited.

      For regular riders, round up and give two warnings.

      For youth/LIFT riders, give three. Don’t think of the first two freebies as an opportunity to cheat, but as a chance to get to a location that distributes LIFT ORCA cards. Access riders get a free ride when getting evaluated for qualification, so this isn’t much different.

      For seniors and riders with disabilities, give four.

      Have each warning fall off the record after a year.

      But stick to gentle reminders for those who have a sufficient pass. To do otherwise creates the impression that ST itself is engaging in theft. ST’s list of allies is growing thin. It doesn’t need to get thinner by making enemies of its most frequent riders.

    3. A $124 fine for two mistaps in a year is extremely excessive. A greater number of warnings such as two or four would be better than one. One overlooked factor is the chronic anxiety it produces in people who can’t remember if they tapped today because it’s so automatic and unconscious, and prone to be forgotten if if the reader is not in your line of sight, or a tapon is registered as a tapoff, and having to decide whether to go back upstairs and tap twice more to make sure. For people who uses transit five or seven days a week, adding up to several taps a day, the likelyhood is they mistap a few times a month no matter how conscientious they are, and if they’re unlucky they might be caught two or three times a year. This means that the people who pay Sound Transit the most money and most heavily promote them are the ones most likely to get citations, simply because they ride more and encounter fare inspectors more. This alienates the most dedicated riders, and also alienates occasional riders and visitors who get caught up in it, leading to feelings like “I’ll never take the train again” or “Seattle has such a crappy transit system.” Sound Transit needs to stop thinking so much about intentional evaders and start thinking more about not stressing and fining their well-intentioned and dilligent customers. One cheap solution would be fake doorways at entrances with the reader positioned adjacent to where the door handle would be, and better reader feedback. Then people who intend to tap would almost certainly do it right, and the only ones left would be intentional evaders.

  7. Well, Brent, my life’s top honor sets my first question: What’s fee, address, and phone number of ST region’s region’s best attorney on this kind of case?

    Mark Dublin

  8. And BTW. Double “region” still fits. Wider talent search, the better. But meantime, everybody walking past a TVM booth, fast-draw your Second Amendment Permitted smart phone, and send two subjects Smallpoxoviral, through ST offices on their way out:

    1. Complete absence of any mention, let alone warning, that a missed tap carries same criminal charge, “Fare Evasion”, and $124 fine, as deliberate theft of fare.

    2. Location, number, text and definition of an RCW. If you can’t find them, wait ’til a chihuahua comes by and waters them.

    And Brent, dead serious. My voting address won’t scare anybody on the ST Board right now. But some pertinent offices under a large dome across a snail-pond are a twenty minute walk. Please advise.


  9. I may have put this in a comment sometime ago, but I think today’s discussion should include it. It’s a response to some questions of mine about a warning I received last year, after I “tapped” my monthly ORCA pass “on” after inadvertently failing to “tap off”, after taking a supper break in Columbia City on a ride to Angle Lake:

    “For any customer who has tapped on at one of our stations, a second tap within a two-hour window will always register as a ‘tap off.’

    If that second tap occurs beyond that two-hour window, the rider will be charged the maximum fare for their previously initiated trip, and that tap will count as the beginning of a new trip.

    Tapping off is important as it protects the passenger from being overcharged and ensures that their fare is accurate.

    It also ensures that their complete trip is accounted for in the system. In your case, there was simply no way for the ORCA system to recognize that your trip was complete when you arrived at Columbia City, or even that you had arrived at Columbia City at all

    That said, you are correct that there should be more visible information that the fare evasion penalty may apply if a rider fails to tap off and as a result, the ORCA reader does not register their next tap as a ‘tap on’ the next time they enter a station.

    We appreciate you raising this issue, and in response I have directed my staff to
    Regarding your question on revenue apportionment, the revenues for paper day passes are not apportioned between the agencies. All paper ticket revenue is kept solely by Sound Transit, as it is not a valid form of payment on any other service.

    ORCA products work differently as they are valid on the services of multiple partner agencies.

    When a customer purchases his or her monthly pass, the revenue for that pass is held in a regional account and then it is apportioned to each of the agencies based on the customer’s rides for that specific month.

    If the customer only uses Sound Transit, then Sound Transit receives 100% of the proceeds from that customer’s pass.

    If the customer uses multiple agencies, the revenue is apportioned to each of the agencies based on the total value of rides taken on each agency’s services that month.

    Again, the best way to protect the ORCA user’s financial interest is to ensure that they tap on and off for every ride so that the ORCA system can accurately capture that passenger’s usage.”

    Response -In Court if necessary:

    A department store customer sends payment to a different department than specified. The customer illegitimately gains, and the store loses- nothing. Store’s response:”Payment received. But please note correct address. Thank you for shopping with us.”

    Considering how Sound Transit’s original election campaign stressed a seamlessly integrated system, any payment to any segment can, and should, simply be transferred to its correct destination. And any punishment at all, let alone same as deliberate theft- blatantly worse than bad faith.

    After 22 years- persistent agency separation questionable. Sending paying passengers to court over any result of it- actionable.

    Immediate first step to remedy: Treat a monthly pass as payment in full for all travel specified. As most pass-holders have always believed it to be, since first passes were introduced, long before ORCA started. By original campaign promise, this change should cost ST nothing.

    But any expense: budget it to Marketing as Passenger Goodwill.

    Mark Dublin

  10. At least Link runs often enough that people who don’t possess Orca cards don’t get in situations where they feel they *have* to fare-evade to avoid missing a train.

    By contrast, in other systems, where trains run once per hour, you start comparing the cost of the fine, multiplied by the probability of getting caught, with the value of an hour of your time waiting for another train, or the cost of an Uber ride, if you can’t wait.

    What would you do, if you were struggling with the ticket machine, or waiting in line for the ticket machine, right as a Sounder Train were approaching, knowing that it was the last the train of the morning, and if you missed it, you would be stuck waiting 20+ minutes for a bus that would take 30-45 minutes longer to get you where you need to go? Would you hop on the Sounder train without paying and take your chances if you get fare-inspected? Would you wait for the bus? Or, would you leave the station altogether and call Uber (which might cost $30-$50, but still cheaper than the $124 fine for riding without a ticket)?

    I’m guessing that under the circumstances, most would hop on the train without paying. (And consider getting an Orca card for the ride back so that the same problem doesn’t happen again, next time).

  11. A few thoughts:

    1) I don’t particularly like Sound Transit or anybody in government tracking my movements. Or those of my friends. But I have to say maybe if in ORCA Next Gen if somebody would double-consent on their phone (as in have to twice confirm on their phone) with a monthly pass being tracked getting on and off of rail transit on the ORCA Next Gen App, that might be a solution. Might.

    For now, I wear my pass around my neck on a lanyard along with three transit agencies’ LED lights. Seems to work as a reminder.

    But I must say there are times I tap on and tap off at the end of a rail trip – either light rail or Sounder – just to make sure I’m good. Be nice for a new tone or better still in the voice of a Sound Transit Boardmember, “TAP ON” and in another Boardmember’s voice, “TAP OFF”.

    2) Having the trains themselves have tap-on to address those just enjoying the frequency of buses in the last year or two of buses in the Downtown Seattle tunnel just would slow boardings in a vehicle with more capacity than the bus. Not a good idea.

    3) Trimet and Bus Riders Unite recently worked together to get some changes to Oregon state law about penalties for fare evasion. Perhaps the transit agencies and Transportation Choices Coalition could work together to get changes in Washington State law to a more, er, progressive or increasing fine structure.

  12. the [$124] fine (which is slightly more than enough to cover court administrative costs

    Why are the courts so dang expensive to operate?


    Again, I’d like to see Transpo Choices Coalition and the regional transit agencies work together to fix this. It’s perniciously regressive – and I’m no left winger.

  14. If a customer has a valid daypass or monthly pass, it is not only ludicruous but punitive to attempt to cite them for incorrect tapping. If a private company tried to do this we’d be up in arms. Allocating revenue is an internal issue and certainly not a valid excuse to punish customers

  15. Is there an ILA or policy document that describes the ORCA pod’s procedure for redistributing the revenue from interagency trips? In Berlin, the VBB has a similar revenue-sharing setup that operates entirely using paper tickets with non-computerized timestamping machines. (I would know exactly how it worked if I had better German reading and Googling skills.) If the ORCA pod developed a process for allocating pass revenue based on surveys, then the need to fine people $124 for not contributing to the collection of 100% complete origin-destination fare data would go away.

      1. The post was based on the ILA from 2009. You can also read the previous ILA that established the PugetPass and regional transfer system preceding ORCA. Before ORCA, revenue apportionments were based on annual surveys. In short, ST was reimbursing partner agencies for any shortfall in revenue due to pass use.

        I’d love to study the German system more as I think it is a model for greater fare integration than currently.

  16. I’d like to see better design of card reader location/fare paid areas in all future stations (including those under construction), and retrofitting them in better locations in existing stations as they are replaced. It would be the work of an hour, given plans of each station, to delineate where readers/gates and physical barriers should be located. It seems as though ST made a conscious effort to have the readers be “unobtrusive” when this is the opposite of good design – assuming that you want everyone to tap on and off!

    Readers should be located, where possible, at the entrance of the fare paid areas and they should be used, as possible, in conjunction with visual and physical barriers such as occurs at Sea-Tac Airport station. They should never be placed off to the side as at Capitol Hill and Husky Stadium – they should be located in such a way that you would need to make a conscious effort NOT to use them – in the same way that other systems use fare gates. (The only exception to this would be where elevators directly access fare paid areas from the street; placing a single reader directly adjacent to the call buttons at street level should be sufficient there – even at Beacon Hill you could create a fare-paid area in front of the elevator bank with barriers/readers.) Once buses leave the DSTT, no card readers should be located at the platforms; they should all be located, in conjunction with barriers, at the mezzanine levels prior to entering/exiting the platform levels.

    At-grade stations should not be exempt from this. You should not be able to walk onto a platform without a visual and preferably physical reminder to pay, which does not exist currently. Yes, you can walk on the road and hop onto the platform to evade your fare but if all stations have an obvious barrier, I would think that fare enforcement officers would be less needed on trains and could be stationed at the at-grade stations as both fare enforcement and security/assistance personnel. If you try to walk on the roadway or not tap at the physical barrier, you are obviously trying to evade and can be dealt with as “gate jumpers” are elsewhere. Fare-paid areas with gates or barriers exist on rail and BRT systems with at-grade stations all over the world.

    In all honesty I would like to see actual fare gates; the horse is likely long out of that barn at least until a new generation of readers is required, but it’s something that makes not having tapped a matter of commission rather than omission. You are trying to evade the fare rather than forgetting to once you’re in the fare paid area without tapping when there are gates.

  17. The fact that this discussion board full of transit enthusiasts who pay more attention to these things than anyone else seems to be utterly confused as to how the Orca tap on, tap off system actually works, means that the system is basically a failure. I have an employer paid all-you-can-eat pass so I don’t worry, or pay attention to the fares. I have always tapped on when taking ST light rail, but have never tapped off. I have never even understood how this all works. They need to do a much better job of education, rather than punitive enforcement. If people with all-you-can-eat passes are getting citations, it’s an education problem, not a customer problem.

    1. Yeah, penalizing passengers for not tapping off is weird authoritarianism. And it’s *especially* offensive for those of us with monthly flat fee passes, like my UPass. I’ve paid for ALL the Metro and Sound Transit trips I may or may not choose to take, so attempting to ticket me for not tapping a SECOND time is unjustifiable. It’s just something for the benefit of the bean counters.

      I haven’t been “caught” doing this, but my wife and a friend — both totally respectable people — have been given official warnings by the “fare enforcers” on the train. If they’ve got those portable readers, can’t they correct people and tap them on or off while they’re there, instead of pulling this shaming, penalizing routine on working people who are just trying to get home from the office?

      Tapping twice is a waste of time, and as confusing to passengers as Metro’s late, unlamented Free Ride Zone rule, which forced people to pay when getting on the bus Inbound, and then lining up to pay as they departed when going Outbound. But these rules reek of being created by people who don’t use public transit regularly.

  18. Three years using Sounder, never seen a fine issued, just warnings. The best one was the 15 minute “discussion” someone had with fare enforcement about how they were adamant they had tapped on and their systems was wrong, again just a warning

    I’ve had two warnings my self for not tapping on, first time I had too much stuff on my mind and totally spaced it, the next time I had tapped on, got on the train at KSS, saw the fair enforcement guys, went and tapped my card again (which tapped me off), because I do this 4 times a day its automatic and I didn’t actually “remember” tapping on or off, much like most people don’t remember what they had for lunch yesterday. The fare enforcement could see I tapped on, then off again and let it go, its also prepaid company card, so its not like I’m cheating ST out of $4.75 here.. – with how noisy it is at KSS when there are several trains there idling its actually difficult to hear the beeps (the cancel fare is a double beep), the ORCA card reader is also down low (who are these for kids or adults?) so I didn’t look at the display.

    Re DB McWeeberton’s comments, I sometimes wonder if people who design timetables and routes actually use transit at all, or the timetables and routes they design – the thorn in my side is how you can have a train station, and various bus routes passing through it – no one makes their timetables play nicely. Its like the system is designed to fail, its designed to make people hate it, its designed to slow down the economy, its designed to irritate the lack of affordable housing in Seattle because its impossible to use transit to get anywhere else conveniently. In order to afford a house the trade off is a 1.5 hour end-to-end commute.

  19. I stopped taking metro around for 4 yrs because they make the FE Officer a pain in my rear.

    Numerous times I tapped wrong amount of times, had valid orca pass paid for the month.

    The FEO and the whole metro tap was a joke.
    I got an actual ticket (not a warning) and switched to uber same day.

    Chinatown to Belltown and back monday thru Friday and never take metro. I walk faster than their bus/trains go. Get there quicker and cheaper not using metro.

    This city is way too behind to catch up on mass transit. Even if st3 gets built on schedule its still 40 yrs behind and late/never on budget.

    Id fire the whole SDOT, Metro chiefs and then bring the outside pros consultants from portland sf vancouver to show seattle how they all did it.

    Big city ambitions and potential blocked by sdot/ metro and st.

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