Paper transfers (image: Oran Viriyincy)

Should Link accept paper transfers?

The idea surfaced recently in Sound Transit’s ongoing examination of fare enforcement. Making it easier for riders to pay fares is one part of the response to concerns about the impacts of fare enforcement. Currently, Sound Transit can accept transfers from other agencies if riders are using an ORCA card, but not otherwise.

The disadvantages are obvious. Buses are slowed by cash payers and paper transfers. Link, by not accepting these transfers, somewhat indirectly drives ORCA card adoption. A policy change would also import the lively market in fraudulent use of transfers into the Sound Transit system.

There also appears no practical way to manage the inter-agency accounting. The ORCA system shares fare revenue between operators by electronically tracking transfers, a task which becomes impossible with paper.

But there are some obvious advantages too. Tourists and infrequent riders are unlikely to have an ORCA card, and may not have an easy way to obtain one if their trip begins on Metro. Daily commuters already have high ORCA adoption, but the prospect of having to “pay twice” for a transit trip surely discourages some marginal riders.

Rail extensions prominently feature truncation of Metro services to Link stations. Next month, the North Eastside restructure will truncate Metro 255 to Link at UW station. While not a sizable proportion of ridership on a typical day, there is a significant audience of riders who use the 255 very occasionally for non-work trips to Seattle. ORCA card requirements are a significant burden for such infrequent trips.

65 Replies to “Paper transfers on Link”

  1. All day passes with an Orca card that you can get on the bus. Then who the hell even needs a transfer, right?

    1. Yes all day cards (or weekend cards) for all the tourists. Give the hotels and cruise ships a machine to activate cards for a set time period and charge ’em $10 bucks or whatever.

    2. It shouldn’t even cost anything for a day pass. I was just in Lisbon, 30 hour layover, and easily got a 24-hour paper pass in the vending machine at the airport metro station. It worked on everything I needed: Metro, buses, trams, funiculars, and the Elevador de Santa Justa. If I had paid a couple of Euro more it would have worked on the commuter trains and ferries as well. You can also buy it online or for €0.50 more you can get it on a reusable card – think ORCA – this is the one you can also buy on the bus although I did so in the metro station.

      I covered a whole bunch of central Lisbon in that time, all thanks to the pass (and wandering on foot).

      So many cities do this that it is mind-boggling to me that we can’t find a way to do so ourselves. I’ve heard here that it has something to do with the first-gen ORCA machines and/or software; fine (albeit bad original planning); but I would fully expect day and multi-day passes to be made available when the new system is rolled out. Certainly day passes at least, in paper form, can be made available on all forms of transit. Again, it’s not like a myriad of other cities don’t already do this – including those with more than one transit operator (like Lisbon – one operator for bus/tram/funicular, another for commuter rail, and a third for the metro).

      1. Dude. You should have paid the extra couple euros and got the pass that is good on the foot ferries too. The food on the other side of the river is actually much better, and more authentic too. Not that food in Lisbon is bad, but it is just better on the other side.

      2. Dude. I didn’t have the time (this time); I saw what I wanted to see and made note of places I want to return to, probably later this year as it turns out. Believe me, the two euro wasn’t holding me back. ;-) Always travel as if you’re going to return. I also found a restaurant that was absolutely outstanding tucked away in a quiet little neighborhood; my Portuguese isn’t outstanding but I can get by in it and talking with the locals sent me there.

        The 10 days in Cabo Verde was good too. New Year’s in Mindelo is something else. No transit passes required.

  2. No. Just no. The goal should be getting rid of paper transfers completely, not expanding their use.

    Larger US cities than Seattle have removed paper transfers.

    Get rid of paper transfers, use some of the cost savings to drive down the price of an ORCA card.

    1. Metro’s transfers have their own Facebook page where people share the color and letter of the day so people can reuse old ones and sell them. We want to extend that to Link?

      Extend Link’s transfer period; that would remove one of the reasons people use paper transfers. ORCA transfers are a strict 2 hours between payments (including surcharges), while paper transfers vary between 2-4 hours depending on whether the bus is near the beginning or end of its run and through-routing and how often the driver resets it, and after 9:30pm it’s good all night and the first run of the morning.

  3. I personally think paper transfers should just go away entirely. In exchange, the time limit for Orca transfers can increase.

  4. I’m not sure whether Link should accept paper transfers. Before buses got kicked out of the tunnel, I would have said yes.

    But I do think Sound Transit buses should accept them, especially for routes that substantially overlap a Metro route. Why should it be free for someone to transfer between a downtown bus and the 312, but not the 522? Both the 312 and 522 serve practically the same stops.

    1. Between the phone app for tickets on metro and link light rail as well as orca cards. There is no reason for paper transfers at all except for the city of Seattle whining about it. As a bus operator I can’t begin to tell you how much it gets abused by everyone across all socioeconomic levels. Its a waste of time and paper

  5. Let me argue for paper transfers pretending I’m woke …

    ORCA users transferring from buses to Link get a free 2 hour transfer. Cash payers transferring from buses to Link don’t get a free transfer. They have to pay again. People of color and the poor are more likely to pay with cash on buses. Therefore, the current policy isn’t equitable or just, it’s discriminatory.

    1. … and we should fix it by making Orca cards cheaper and easier to get. I think it was Mark who suggested dropping them by helicopter.

    2. Let me argue for paper transfers pretending I’m woke …

      The Tao that can be realized is not the true Tao.

      If you believe you are woke, then you are not.

      The Green Party that can be organized is not the true Green Party.

      That pre-paid ORCA pass is in your mind only, and you don’t know if it is real until an FEO measures it. This mathematically duplicates the Tao of quantum mechanics.

      1. And people in NYC can get pre-paid debit cards, but the City Council there just approved legislation that prohibits stores from refusing to accept cash, in part, they say, because it’s exclusionary and discriminatory.

      2. There’s a difference between a transit card that’s part of the riding process like a ticket, and a third-party debit/credit card where the commission goes to an out-of-state company that has nothing to do with transit, and which you need good credit or a substantial cash deposit and ID to get.

        There are programs to make ORCA more accessible to lower-income people. ORCA Lift, and Seattle’s free passes for public-school students. There’s discussion about adding a lower-priced tier to ORCA Lift. In the future there will be more Link stations in more areas all with TVMs. So some things are being done.

    3. I assume Sam is being facetious, and yet he’s absolutely right.

      Yes, paper transfers lead to increased evasion, and make it harder to apportion money between different services. But the lack of paper transfers discriminates against people who don’t have an ORCA card, a group of people who are on average poorer and less white than ORCA cardholders.

      Without paper transfers, there’s also a ready-made argument against any restructure that replaces one-seat into two-seat trips. If a direct bus gets replaced with a Link feeder, that doubles the price for anyone paying cash.

      Cash is slow, but paper transfers aren’t. If anything, they’re faster (if less accurate) than ORCA.

      I’d never argue that paper transfers are perfect. They’re messy, and I wish we didn’t need them… but we do.

    4. It’s not discriminatory. Anybody can get an orca card. In fact, if you are a person with loe income you may even be able to get an orca lift card and only pay 1.50 for bus rides. There are also many programs for homeless, people with disabilities, and seniors as well.

      Just because a person is poor doesn’t justify them not paying the fare and if you can’t afford a one time payment of $5 to get an orca card, then you have bigger problems than fare for the bus.

      The other reality is that if you can’t afford to pay two fares on two different transit agencies, then just use metro. It goes everywhere that the light rail goes and you can transfer as many times as you like until your transfer expires and then you can continue to abuse it for the rest of the day like many others do. Everyone knows that metro has a “no fare dipute” operator policy. In all honesty operators know that and don’t even worry about the fare. If you get on a bus and say “I’m sorry i dont have the fare today, may i get a transfer?” operators, according to policy, are required to give you a transfer. So all this ribbish about discrimination is a lie.

    5. Reorganizations have been going through anyway. The opponents have been citing other reasons against them but haven’t said much about the fare issue. There are people who talk about the fare issue generally, but it hasn’t been a significant talking point in specific restructures.

  6. Absolutely not. No paper transfers on Link.

    And Metro needs to get its act together and eliminate them on buses too. This is 2020. Metro needs to modernize.

  7. Thanks for the question.

    The big question facing the ST Board this year fare-wise, is whether it will honor Metro’s proposed very-low-income fare (free), at least on Link and ST Express.

    Honoring paper transfers could become a dodge to taking up that question. (Or maybe groups that have long sided with inter-agency acceptance of paper transfers will prefer getting that policy to getting ST to honor the very-low-income fare cards.)

    If ST decides to start accepting paper transfers on Link, and continues to dishonor ORCA transfers or passes if you mis-tap or fail to tap, then that creates an incentive for more Metro riders who will be riding Link to pay with cash rather than ORCA — because the paper will be accepted as proof of payment, whereas the ORCA card will only if you get the taps right.

    Part of me is in the camp that ST deserves to lose some fare revenue (via not getting any when someone pulls out their decade-old transfer with the correct letter and color) for having an unethical approach toward their selective honoring of clear-and-obvious proof-of-pre-payment. But bus riders would be the ones hurt most by incentivizing more cash payment. Mutually-assured-disaster.

    I foresee a counting-and-extrapolation policy coming. ST would get to count up how often passengers have paper transfers in fare enforcement encounters, and use that percentage of all encounters to figure out a lump-sum correction that it would charge to Metro.

    It will never occur to the ST Board that they could have done exactly that same extrapolation to handle mis-taps, instead of scaring away imperfect ORCA users.

    And so, we’re going to get the worst of all possible policy changes by giving ST permission to charge a lump sum to Metro, continuing to dishonor clear-and-obvious proof of electronic pre-payment (even if it is a kid who as given a “a free pass good for several months”), incentivizing more cash payment on Metro, and slowing down nearly every Metro and ST Express bus (which will also begin accepting and handing out the immortal paper transfers).

    Mark my words, this is probably where we are headed.

    I will take ST honoring the very-low-income fare (free) on Link and ST Express over this poorly-thought-out approach any day of the week. (Well, okay, I already wanted ST to honor the very-low-income fare but this raises the urgency for me.)

  8. The transfers need to have valid date codes on them so people don’t keep using them over and over.

    1. Here in Victoria BC we have no transfers whatsoever – it’s $2.50 per boarding or $5.00 for a day pass. No age-related discounts on cash fares, either – the only discounts are for mag stripe monthly or semester passes purchased off the bus.

      Day passes look like transfers, but are printed with the complete date, in big words (FEB 3 2020) which I would think would reduce the reuse potential. They are also light blue, a colour that matches the five dollar bill it takes to buy one, which is kind of cool

  9. I think transfer slips are generally a bad idea. I’ve seen fareboxes that instead print transfers.

    With Link slayed to serve more Downtown trips that were previously all-bus, ST should be paying for other operators to change fareboxes. It’s because of ST that they have this issue and it should be ST that fixes it.

    1. Ah, nice try, but no. You have it exactly backward.

      This problem does not exist because ST is using a modern fare collection system, this problem exists because Metro still uses as archaic fare collection system.

      Metro’s paper transfer system is essentially the same as the one used in Seattle in the 1920’s. It is as if Metro is trying to convince the world that, “what was good enough in 1920, is good enough in 2020.”

      But things have changed since 1920. Metro needs to acknowledge that and modernize their system. And they should pay for it, because it is THEIR problem.

    2. I will gladly blame ST for the much faster bus service we have had since 2009.

      I won’t blame ST, PT, CT, ET, or KT for King County’s decision to continue to offer paper transfers while all the other agencies have either gotten off of them completely or honor them only for immediate transfers at specific transfer locations (in the case of KT).

      OTOH, I will gladly blame King County for speeding up the buses even more outside of downtown in 2012, Kitsap Transit for inventing the low-income fare and the low-income fare card, and Metro for making the low-income fare a thing among urban transit agencies all over the country.

    3. It would cost as much as rear-door ORCA readers to install transfer-printing fareboxes on thousands of buses. San Jose VTA has them, but it made a strategic decision to order that kind of farebox years ago. With paper transfers an obsolete technology and ORCA2 (unfortunately called ORCAng) coming in the next few years, it would be silly to install transfer-printing fareboxes now. As if ST or Metro had tens of thousands of dollars to do it. If they have that money they should put it into service hours or any of the other suggestions we’ve made over the past several months that would benefit passengers more.

  10. Every Link station has an Orca vending machine, right? I don’t understand why tourists and infrequent riders cannot get a card as soon as they get to the station. Contorting the fare system to save them a one-time payment of $2.75 is not worth it.

    1. I’m not aware of any transit agency that charges $2.75 for a transit smart card. They all charge in even dollars or not at all (split about down the middle between the two options, with $2 a close second behind free, and way ahead of $3 and $5). The ORCA card still costs $5, last I checked.

    2. Every Link and Sounder station has TVMs, yes. But the psychological barrier to paying $10 is large. ($5 for the card, $5 minimum e-purse if you don’t buy a pass). People don’t think it’s worth it for one trip once or twice a year. Especially when they’ve already paid $2.75 on the bus to get there.

      Most American cities’ transit cards cost $0-2. Those with the highest charges usually have a free limited card for a single round-trip or day. Link has day passes but they’re Link-only. Link is not extensive enough to use it exclusively, except for the basic airport-downtown and P&R-ballgame trips. (When I was in Atlanta MARTA had a higher-priced plastic card and a limited cardboard card. I think it has since changed to one moderate-priced card.)

    3. The problem with buying an ORCA card for visitors is the difficulty of keeping them charged with money. You have to wait 24-48 hours before passes and cash become valid if you use the web site. There are huge areas where there are no ORCA vendors.

      1. Its only 24-48 hours if you load it online. Do it at vending machine with the actual card in hand or with cash then it goes on immediately

      2. The point is it’s 2020, it shouldn’t take up to two days to load a card with money from a website. And there’s not remotely as many vending machines as there should be, not to mention if you don’t know where they are already it’s a pain in the ass to find them. They’re hyperconcentrated in Seattle as well, which just makes it even harder to reload a card.

      3. 48 hours is a long time if you need it today or tomorrow. The TVM distribution problem is well documented. There are three in southeast King County (Tukwila Sounder, Kent Sounder, Renton Sounder), and only two of them are walkable to or in a neighborhood center. And one of them is across the railroad tracks from the bus bays, requiring crossing an overhead bridge or walking a block around. That’s three TVMs for seven cities (Renton, Kent, Auburn, Covington, Maple Valley, Black Diamond, Enumclaw).

      4. And many people probably don’t even know the TVMs are there or forget about them, because if they don’t ride Sounder they’ve never seen them.

  11. Paper transfers should be eliminated.
    Paper transfers have bred chronic fare evasion for decades and its surely only going to get worse as the homeless/drug addict population increases.

    Other organizations have done this. Other major metropolitan cities have CLEAR instructions on how to pay the fare with what is accepted and not.
    Educate the public by communicating where and how to obtain ORCA cards for visitors and or regular users — emphasis on cash fares offer no transfers between agencies but extend the transfer time on ORCA cards when purchased.

    We should no longer have an “honor system” when it comes to payment of fares on public transportation for the safety of all on board.

    1. There are six transfer ticket colors and eight letters. All one has to do is pay bus fare for 48 days, then they essentially have a free lifetime pass.

  12. I was very unhappy when ST abandoned paper transfers years ago. I had no choice but to buy an Orca card, keeping a balance on it and having my ride history logged in the Orca database. I’d rather pay cash and use the paper transfers, but that hasn’t been up for consideration, until now.

    1. You can pay cash at a TVM and skip registering the card; then they won’t know who you are, only where that card traveled. The downside is if you lose the card you can’t get the credit transferred to a new card.

  13. The only reason people want paper transfers is because we have a half-assed transit system split up between half a dozen operators. Orca is a massive headache for the occasional user. We need uniform fares (between all agencies) and a uniform system of payment that doesn’t require a $5 or $10 fee, mail delivery (and lag time) or pickup at one of three highly inconvenient transit centers (seriously, who starts or ends ANY trip at the Tacoma Dome Station located next to exactly nothing), and a minimum e-purse deposit – which can’t ever be refunded – via an online system that takes 24 to 48 hours to deposit. Read through that. Tell me what occasional rider is ever going to Orca card their trips. I have Orca. It still has a balance from my last deposit almost a decade ago when I changed jobs. I can only get it refunded if I pay a $10 fee, so it’s basically lost money to me until I finally use it up in the next decade or two.
    No other major city has paper transfers. Yeah, well, most other major cities don’t have five agencies (ST, PT, Metro, WSF, and CT) operating in their downtown, each with a different fare structure. And most have a comprehensive system with ticket vending machines at all stations, and an ability to get most places without a bus transfer. So don’t go all “most other cities” on me.

    1. People use paper transfers for several reasons. (1) They don’t think an ORCA card is worth it for an occasional trip, or the card is too expensive or they live far from a TVM. (2) They don’t know about ORCA. (Many occasional riders and visitors fit into that category.) (3) The transfer time is longer with a paper transfer. (4) They can reuse an old transfer with the same color/letter for free. (5) They can buy an old transfer for $1 or a cigarette. (6) They’re into credit/debit/mobile payments, not uncool transit cards.

      1. How is Orca a headache for the occasional rider? If anything it’s a blessing. Buy a card once, keep a small balance with auto reload (say $10-20) on it, and you’re ready to hop on the bus any time. I rarely have small bills or quarters on me, but it’s easy to carry an orca card.

      2. Yeah, I keep a couple of ORCA cards on hand for visitors, with 20 bucks on auto-reload on them. (Habit goes back to when I was a kid and my great-uncle and aunt in Manhattan had a dish by their door full of subway tokens.)

      3. Different people have different psychological mindsets. For somebody who usually drives everywhere, or doesn’t leave the house much, or lives in Covington or Newport Hills or Alki or Shoreline far from any ST service, or is an out-of-town relative staying at somebody’s house, and is making a single trip or one round trip and may not make another for several months or never, they might expect a reasonable fare to be $2.00-2.75. They expect to pay cash because buses always take cash in their experience and memory. $10 sounds excessive — it sounds like a taxi fare. And they’re thinking, “That costs as much as almost four trips. And I don’t know when I might ever do a fourth trip — or even a second.”

        It is an issue because people have been complaining about it ever since ORCA started. Visitors complain that they don’t want to pay $10 for one or two trips from the airport, to get a card they won’t use after that, and they can’t get their unused credit refunded. Occasional riders make similar complaints. And if you look at how people pay in lower-income areas, it’s a higher proportion of cash. I’ve ridden the 268 occasionally to monitor ridership, and 98% paid cash. (It may have gone down now because Metro says it has been going down systemwide.)

      4. I had a card for visitors for quite a while. Another strategy I’ve thought about but never had occasion to use, is to tell them to get a card at the airport and give it to me at the end or mail it back to me and I’ll reimburse them for the unused credit and fee. I’d then give it to a local person to encourage them to try Link or Metro.

      5. They’re into credit/debit/mobile payments, not uncool transit cards.

        Yeah, get rid of the ORCA card all together. Install system wide payment by smartphone and chip enabled debit cards. What about monthly passes and employer provided cards? There’s an app for that!

        And ORCA cards are a pain for the occasional user. When your payment method changes, like you move to a different bank or a credit card expires, you have to remember to go to the ORCA site, remember you password that you have used since you can’t remember when and update it. And if you use the card before doing that it lets you on the bus but locks your card. Which you can’t fix until you call them and arrange payment over the figgin phone.

      6. Because third-party cards have high transaction fees that go to out-of-state for-profit providers that have nothing to do with providing transit. And it requires a third-party smartphone and third-party data plan. Not everybody has drunk the smartphone-payment kool-aid.

      7. I always refill my card at a TVM to avoid those problems. ORCAng will support those other payment methods if I recall.

  14. Seeitall, will do you one better on the Seattle Times fear-of-the-year scale: since there’s no way to verify who’s just come back from Wuhan-remember Sea-Tac’s short plane to train distance-one shudders to visualize the amount of Corona Virus an aisle-full pile of paper transfers can harbor.

    Whereas a plastic ORCA card can easily be fitted in a card-holder treated with antidote. And in addition, card- readers can be fitted with pads soaked in antidote blended with pheromones, Nature’s most powerful though scentless aphrodisiac. Creating massive eager compliance by giving thousands of us transit nerds our only chance at getting a date. Seeing how we’re all both “woke” and “canceled” at the same time.

    Meantime, whether classified by income, age, disability, residence, or occupation, all a fare inspector should need to see is that the card-holder is carrying proof that someone has already paid a month’s full-price for transportation on their behalf.

    Thereby, in addition to freeing up inspectors’ time to deal with actual evaders, putting young passengers in a good frame of attitude with uniformed authority in general. And same with the young fare inspectors regarding regulation they themselves doubtless hate worse than I do.

    Fact that “Right-Card-Wrong Tap” penalty is still in effect after all these years without either legal challenge or mass student defiance – average phone-carrier’s got firsthand footage from Hong Kong to Tehran- makes me wonder if our fare inspectors always just warn instead of cite students they know are innocent.

    Also, expecting long-overdue and highly-publicized effort by the budgetary wing of the Oathkeepers to shame down Sound Transit for criminalizing paid-up passengers to safeguard multi-agency BUREAUCRATS!!!!! their last divided penny.

    Widespread supply of pre-paid transit passes could put a considerable dent in the number of people who can’t either get hired or keep their job for lack of transportation to work. Immediately increasing tax revenue, including for transit. And putting workers’ shaving mirrors back in over the sink, not the dashboard.

    Addiction? Has Western State Hospital got its accreditation back? Meantime, lets see if the Feds will give us a cut on fines assessed to the pharmaceutical industry for latest generation of addiction to pain-killers. Though given current change of outlook in our courts, making these defendants ride a bus is cruel and unusual punishment.

    Mark Dublin

  15. This is comically dumb. Just make the ORCA card less expensive and allow daily fare capping across all of the local agencies.

  16. What I get for not reading carefully to the end. Temporary measure: Issue every 255 driver with the current Link paper Day Passes. And let these be good as transfers all over the system, all lines and agencies.

    Any division who thinks they’re getting “shorted”, have the accountants apportion the revenue however is fair. As should really be the case for all fare paid to Link.

    Will give the fare inspectors something to look at, as proof that somebody paid a fare. But far more important, will give passengers evidence that in a rapidly changing system….they come first.

    Mark Dublin

  17. I was helping a friend with her Orca card online and I felt like I had been transported back in time 20 years. This cemented my decision to keep paying cash for my occasional trips. Maybe Orca will join the 21st century someday.

  18. A few thoughts:

    1) This threatens Sound Transit revenue at a time of high sensitivity for Sound Transit, so NO.

    2) As to,

    But there are some obvious advantages too. Tourists and infrequent riders are unlikely to have an ORCA card, and may not have an easy way to obtain one if their trip begins on Metro. Daily commuters already have high ORCA adoption, but the prospect of having to “pay twice” for a transit trip surely discourages some marginal riders.

    ORCA Next Gen comes with an app, which will be perfect for tourists. Also we need WSF to accept and issue transfers, but that’s for another thread.


    1. WSF has the same revenue issue as Sound Transit: it would lose a lot of money if many people paid by transfer or PugetPass, and how would it replace the revenue? The legislature wouldn’t be keen on giving it more money to subsidize local transit riders’ transfers and passes. So it would have to cut service? Isn’t ferry service already minimal?

      1. Good point. I think the funding could be backfilled by a bump in the sales tax to provide a pot of money earmarked for refreshing the WSF fleet in return. It would take a fool to reject that.

  19. I know this has been mentioned before – but seriously – fare caps. Do like what Portland does and once you’ve spent enough to get a day pass, you’re good for the rest of the day. Like the only reason I end up spending more sometimes is because the bus I was taking was late and I ended up paying an extra fare because it was outside the 2 hour transfer window even though I hadn’t yet made it to my destination.

    1. Yes, that would be best. The problem is the agencies would have to make up the revenue less, and all of them have different funding sources that aren’t budgeted for this. ST is worried about people paying a net $2.75 instead of $5 on Sounder, and $1.25 instead of $3 on Link. And when the Link extensions open the maximum fare will rise too and be more like Sounder, so the problem will become more acute.

      Other cities don’t have quite the shared pot Pugetopolis has created. Europe has all-mode passes, but they have a top-down agency structure and adequately fund all of it to support the all-mode passes and ballgame-conference-ticket-serves-as-transit-pass. Other American cities usually exclude commuter rail from their plan, and long-distance express buses. BART’s fare-sharing is minimal like WSF. A limited transfer discount in the East Bay worth $2, and an unlimited-ride option in SF for historical political reasons.

    1. “Shadow” will not be getting into the ballot-tabulation-with-a-paper-trail business any time soon. Hail Hydra!

      The JFK coins provided to all the meeting chairs to have lots of coin flips and totally randomize how many delegates each candidate gets is … making fun of the whole notion of democracy? (Hey, how about every state holds a primary, with ranked choice voting, and the results eventually produce a popular winner, without the self-destructive drama of a convention floor fight? Maybe states could compact to give their delegations to the winner of the national ranked-choice primary. In case of an assassination or death by heart attack, re-run the results skipping the dead candidate. But I digress.)

      I’m amazed that the Justice Department has never put the kibosh on this festival that only allows latte-shifters and the unemployed to participate.

      In a through-the-looking-glass sort of way, Metro’s undead paper transfers are the Iowa Causes of fare collection systems, using Shadow. But FEOs refusing to accept clear-and-obvious proof of pre-payment are the JFK coin of the Iowa Caucuses.

  20. One easy option to make it easier to obtain an Orca card is to distribute them on the buses. The way it would work, anyone can insert a $10 bill into the farebox, and get back from the bus driver a new Orca card preloaded with $5. Or, insert a $20 bill into the farebox, and get back a card with $15. The cards, themselves, can be preloaded in advance, so all the bus driver has to do is hand one out from the right pile.

    The $5 Orca fee should also be reduced, at a minimum to $2, so that the $5 card fee includes your bus fare.

    Finally, the Orca transfer window should be increased. It is rediculous that we still have people choosing to pay with cash, simply so they can use the longer transfer window for a free ride back.

    With all the above, paper transfers, along with the headaches and fare evasion they encourage, should go away entirely.

  21. I knew a guy back in the 70s and 80s who kept a heap of paper transfers in every conceivable letter and color combo, mostly picked up off the sidewalk, and would espy what the day’s combo before boarding so he could flash it. He would just fold it to make it the right length. Worked every time.

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