Monorail proposal raises fares to offset ORCA transfers, passes

Monorail ticket booth at Seattle Center Station Photo by Joe Mabel / wikicommons

As Martin pointed out Thursday, the Seattle Center will be holding a hearing on Wednesday, September 11, and taking email comments through September 18, on a proposal to raise monorail fares as part of the rollout of accepting the ORCA card, along with interagency transfers and passes.

The published proposal focuses on the fare increases. But, as part of joining the ORCA pod, transfer credit from other ORCA trips will be good on the monorail, and vice versa, according to Seattle Center Director of Communications Deborah Daoust. Likewise PugetPass, Business Passport, U-Pass, and the Regional Day Pass will also be good for covering part or all of monorail fare.

The regular fare is going from $2.50 to $3.00, while the youth, senior, and disability fares are going from $1.25 to $1.50.

At the same time, a new low-income fare category will be introduced, at $1.50, available only by using loaded fare product on the ORCA LIFT card.

The eligibility age for the youth fare will expand from ages 5-12 to ages 6-18. Five-year-olds, accompanied by an adult, will now get to ride for free.

US military personnel with ID can get the half fare, but not by using ORCA.

Monorail non-ORCA monthly passes will go up from $50 to $60, and the reduced fare non-ORCA passes will continue to be half the cost.

Daoust offered an explanation for the increase to $3.00:

The proposed adult fare considers many factors including the cost to Seattle Monorail Services of implementing changes in its ticket structure and the fact that it relies on ticket revenues to cover operating costs and some major maintenance. The increase also factors in increases in consumer price index (CPI). Other considerations include fare alignment with other ORCA providers and the acceptance of transfers when ORCA users combine a Monorail trip with other transit use.

The increase to $3 helps the Monorail to offset losses it will incur by participating in One Regional Card for All, since only =/-$2 will come back to the Monorail under the ORCA program.

Everett Transit and Community Transit have also rolled out low-income fares this year. The last holdouts in the ORCA pod from having such a fare are Washington State Ferries — for which the Washington State Transportation Commission recently approved a pilot project to have a low-income fare, once funding is found — and Pierce Transit.

As at happens, the monorail would be the second entity for which ORCA LIFT would actually be a discount of 50% or more from the regular fare, joining Kitsap Transit.

ORCA acceptance on the monorail and the accompanying fare increases are set to commence October 7, assuming there is no public backlash in the comment period.

Inslee quits presidential race; DNC to vote on debating climate action plans today

Update: The DNC Resolutions Committee voted down a debate format for the climate forums 8-17. Protesters sung their displeasure.

Correction: The original version of this post stated that Sen. Elizabeth Warren had no climate statement on her campaign website. Actually, she has several, under “Latest Announcements”. The author apologizes for the error.

On Wednesday, Gov. Jay Inslee withdrew from the race for President of the United States. His plan to campaign on his success in fighting climate change was a case of planting his flag in quicksand, given that Washington State’s carbon emissions continue to rise($) quickly.

Indeed, we continue to build more roads, while the state barely invests in transit, and invests almost nothing in bike or pedestrian infrastructure.

Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee will be voting today on the format of a CNN forum and an MSNBC forum on climate change next month — primarily whether one of both of them will be debates or “town halls”, in which candidates address the audience separately, one by one. Inlee’s low polling kept him from getting to participate in the CNN forum.

Within the DNC, Washington State Democratic Party Chair Tina Podlodowski is leading the call for a debate. The Sunrise Movement has led the charge from the outside. Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez is being blamed by various debate supporters as the leading opponent of the debate format.

Inside Climate News has analyzed the climate records and platforms of the major Democratic candidates.

Various candidates’ website statements on the climate crisis are linked below:

Sunday Open Thread: Seattle District 7 MASS Forum

The Moving All Seattle Sustainably Coalition held a forum for District 7 Seattle City Council candidates a couple months ago.

Rooted in Rights provided the video and transcript.

Participating candidates included:

Ballots need to be postmarked, turned in at a ballot drop box, or you have to be line at an accessible voting site by 8 pm on Tuesday, August 6.

This is an open thread

Sunday Open Thread: Seattle District 6 MASS Forum

The Moving All Seattle Sustainably Coalition, the Housing Development Consortium, and Tech 4 Housing recently held a forum for candidates for Seattle City Council District 6. Rooted in Rights produced the video and has provided a transcript.

Participating candidates included, from left to right:

This is an open thread.

State Transportation Commission proposes low-income pilot project for Washington State Ferries, surcharge to build electric ferry

Colman Ferry Dock renovation, March 2018, photo by SounderBruce

After a series of community meetings the Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC) and its “Ferry Advisory Committee – Tarriff” (FAC-T) hold every two years, the WSTC is proposing a schedule of fare changes. Various options were presented to the WSTC at its June meeting, before the Commission settled on its proposal to go to the final round of public input.

The main fare policy changes include:

  • 2.5% fare increases for vehicles on October 1, 2019 and May 1, 2020
  • 2% fare increases for passengers on those same dates
  • a separate 25-cent increase to the “capital surcharge” (which is already 25 cents) on May 1, 2020, dedicated to building a new hybrid diesel/electric ferry. That surcharge increase will be roughly 12 cents for senior, disability, and youth fares.
  • increased penalties for reservation no-shows starting October 1, 2019
  • a 3-year pilot project for accepting payment using WSDOT’s Good-to-Go Pass
  • a 3-year pilot project for a low-income fare category.
Continue reading “State Transportation Commission proposes low-income pilot project for Washington State Ferries, surcharge to build electric ferry”

Snohomish County agencies roll out low-income fare today; Everett Transit regular fare goes up again

Community Transit and Everett Transit are rolling out new low-income fares today, expanding the reach of the ORCA LIFT program that debuted in 2015, and expanded upon Kitsap Transit’s low-income fare program in place since 1985.

Meanwhile, Everett Transit regular fares climb to $2 (and remain $2.50 on route 70).

photos by Bruce Engelhardt

If your household income is 200% or less of the federal poverty level, you qualify for this low-income discount program. Both Snohomish County transit agencies are partnering with the Department of Social and Health Services at various locations to do the qualification process (which also started today). You may qualify for and get access to additional benefits while there. There are also lots of locations around King County that process qualification.

The ORCA LIFT card is free the first time for those who qualify, and then $3 for a replacement. Youth ORCA cards (for riders 6-18 years old) are usually $3, but the fee is waived if you get a youth card for someone in your household while getting the ORCA LIFT card.

The ORCA LIFT discount is good for two years before you have to requalify. The expiration date will be stamped on the card. After that, the card reverts to being a regular ORCA card.

Once you qualify, obtain your card, and load cash value or a monthly pass onto the card, your card account will be charged the following amounts when using the ORCA LIFT card.

  • $1.50 on Everett Transit, except route 70 (new)
  • $1.25 on Everett Transit route 70 (new)
  • $1.25 on Community Transit local routes (new)
  • $2.00 on Community Transit commuter routes (new)
  • $1.50 on ST Express buses
  • $2.50-$4.25 on Sounder
  • $1.50 on King County Metro
  • $1.50 on Link Light Rail
  • $1.50 on Seattle Streetcars
  • $3.75 on the West Seattle Water Taxi
  • $4.50 on the Vashon Island Water Taxi
  • $5.00 on eastbound Kitsap Transit foot ferries from Seattle to Bremerton and Kingston
  • $1.00 on westbound Kitsap Transit foot ferries
  • $1.00 on intra-county Kitsap Transit foot ferries
  • $1.00 on Kitsap Transit buses

Monthly passes cost $9 per 25 cents of single-ride fare. So, for example, a $54 monthly pass covers the first $1.50 in fare for each ride. For services charging a higher fare than what is covered by your monthly pass, only the difference between the higher fare and the fare the pass covers will be charged. ORCA transfers are good for 2 hours, among all ORCA agencies except Washington State Ferries.

However, you have to use loaded ORCA product on the card in order to get the ORCA LIFT discount.

Pierce Transit and Washington State Ferries are the remaining members of the ORCA pod that do not have a low-income fare. Pierce Transit charges $2 regular fare, which is also what gets charged to ORCA LIFT cards. Washington State Ferries not only charges much more for any of their services in one direction (and free in the other), but also does not accept inter-agency transfers or passes.

See the table at this previous post for the current fares for all payer categories throughout the ORCA pod, except for Washington State Ferries.

Sunday Open Thread: District 4 MASS Forum

The Moving All Seattle Sustainably Coalition held a candidate forum for the Seattle City Council’s 4th District on May 30, 2019. Rooted in Rights made the video, and provided a transcript.

Candidates attending included, from left to right:

We posted the videos and discussed the races for Districts 2 and 3 previously.

This is an open thread.

Sunday Open Thread: Seattle District 3 MASS forum

The Moving All Seattle Sustainably Coalition held a candidate forum for the Seattle City Council’s 3rd District on May 29, 2019. Rooted in Rights made the video, and provided a transcript.

Candidates attending included, from left to right:

The forum for District 2 was posted on Thursday.

This is an open thread.

Seattle District 2 MASS forum

The Moving All Seattle Sustainably Coalition held its forum for Seattle District 2 city council candidates on May 28, 2019. Rooted in Rights made the video. Go to their website if the above video doesn’t work on your platform. Rooted in Rights also provided a transcript for the forum.

Candidates attending included, from left to right:

This is not an open thread. You will have the opportunity to discuss the other races in future posts.

Last urbanist withdraws from D1 race

Jesse Greene

As the candidate filing deadline approaches next week, the only urbanist-y candidate running for Seattle City Council District 1 (West Seattle and South Park) has withdrawn.

Jesse Greene was cognizant that the housing crisis is at least partially a supply-side problem, a position that rankles neighborhood activists. He submitted his withdrawal papers last week, leaving a hole in the race. But he also endorsed fellow challenger Phil Tavel.

Freshman incumbent Lisa Herbold has been strong on supporting lower transit fares; but also opposed to relaxing mandatory parking requirements($) in new buildings; generally opposed to upzones, eventually bartering her vote for the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda upzones in urban areas of the city to reduce their scale, including around the future Alaska Junction Station($); and has championed spending hundreds of millions of dollars to bury West Seattle Link without any realistic funding source.

All of the candidates in the race pledged to follow the campaign spending limits in the city’s Democracy Voucher program, but only Herbold has qualified for vouchers as of publication time.

The remaining three challengers include:

  • Brendan Kolding, who opposes upzones before light rail expands, and even then still wants to have mandated car parking in all buildings regardless of their proximity to frequent transit.
  • Isaiah Willoughby, whose superpower is invisibility on the campaign trail.
  • Phil Tavel, who was involved in SCALE, the neighborhood activist group that tried to stall HALA urban-area upzones and Mandatory Housing Affordability requirements in court.

Sunday Open Thread: Legislature on Transportation

TV Washington’s The Impact covered several of the transportation bills that were considered by this year’s legislative session. Watch it on their website if the above video does not work.

This is an open thread.

Floor Amendments May Block the Box for Final Approval of Bus Lane Cameras

Traffic cameras could help bus commuters from over 20 legislative districts
Credit: Zack Heistand / twitter

Update 1: Y’all wanted to know why Sen. Saldaña proposed her amendment exempting transit from citations. The answer is at the bottom of the post. I promise you won’t have to click 10 times to get to it.

Update 2: Sen. Saldaña has submitted a striker amendment, with the effects listed below.

Update 3: Sen. Saldaña has submitted a second striker amendment, with the effects listed below. The first four amdendments have all been pulled, leaving just the last two eligible for floor discussion and action.

Update 4: Sen. Hasegawa has submitted two amendments to Saldaña’s second striker to push Seattle to operate camera enforcement in-house. Those two make four that could come up on the Senate floor.

Final Update: The bill did not get brought up on the Senate floor by adjournment for the year, midnight Sunday. It goes back to the start line in 2020.

Both chambers of the State Legislature took the morning off while various conference committees (some formal and some informal) and party caucuses try to iron out disagreements on various bills, including biennial transportation appropriations (Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1160). Both chambers are scheduled to reconvene in voting session at 2 pm. The session ends at midnight Sunday.

The bill to add additional allowed uses of automated camera enforcement for traffic violations, including bus lanes, crosswalks, and blocking the box (ESHB 1793), is 53rd – and last – on the Senate’s regular floor calendar, after having gotten voted out of the Senate Rules Committee at first asking yesterday.

Eight floor amendments to ESHB 1793 have been proposed:

Continue reading “Floor Amendments May Block the Box for Final Approval of Bus Lane Cameras”

Last Chance for Camera Enforcement Bill in Committee Wednesday

Cars blocking crosswalk — still shot from Rooted in Rights video

Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1793, having been revived last week and passed out of the House, now faces a showdown in the Senate Transportation Committee, where it must be heard and voted out Wednesday morning. At time of publication, the bills to be heard at the meeting were not publicly listed yet.

The bill allows camera enforcement of bus lanes, HOV lanes, crosswalks, ferry lanes, emergency vehicle access, and blocking the box, with tickets being mailed instead of handed to drivers while blocking traffic.

During the sausage-making process, the bill has been reduced to the downtown Seattle area only, and only for a pilot program expiring at the end of 2021, with only warnings being mailed in 2019. Starting in 2020, the first offense will still get a warning. Also, the state gets half the action on the profit from the ticketing.

The bill requires signage to be placed 30 days before camera enforcement starts, but still has no requirement for clear pavement markings, such as red paint.

Three Democratic committee members signed onto the companion bill, SB 5789, leaving seven committee Democrats potentially on the fence.

The Legislature adjourns sine die Sunday, April 28 (which happens to fall on Orthodox / Coptic Easter this year, so expect Saturday to be it for the regular session).

Everett City Council Opts for $1.50 Low-Income Fare

(Bruce Englehardt)

The Everett City Council voted Wednesday night to approve a new low-income fare category for Everett Transit, and set the fare at $1.50.

ET Transportation Services Director Tom Hingson presented data from a fare survey that also included the option of not having a low-income fare, and the option of consolidating all reduced fares at $1. He pointed out that frequent riders strongly preferred Option 1 ($1.50 low-income and youth, $0.50 RRFP – for seniors 65+ and riders with qualifying disabilities). Seniors overwhelmingly preferred option 1 over option 2, which would have raised their fares from free just a couple years ago, to 25 cents last year, to 50 cents now, to a dollar in July.

As a result, low-income qualifiers will see the same fare they are paying now, which is 50% more than the regular fare last year. ET’s new LIFT fare will be the same as the ST Express LIFT fare, and 25 cents more than the Community Transit local LIFT fare.

ET’s route 70 (serving Mukilteo and Seaway Transit Center) is the only one designated by ET as a “commuter” route. Its fares are set to match Community Transit’s local fares. CT’s decision to implement a low-income half fare would normally trigger the setting of the low-income fare on route 70 to match it at $1.25, oddly making it lower than the low-income fare on the regular buses.

The fares in the ORCA pod, for those agencies honoring inter-agency transfers and passes, effective July 1, are listed below the fold.

Continue reading “Everett City Council Opts for $1.50 Low-Income Fare”

Judgement Day for Fracking, HOV Lane Cheating Bills

Credit: Campaign Against Climate Change

Today is the last day for most bills in Olympia to get voted out of their second chamber, by 5 pm.

Many important bills have already passed both houses or died. Two sit on the bubble, waiting to get voted on today in the Senate, or to die for lack of making it to the front of the voting queue.

Senate Bill 5145 would ban fracking, at least for purposes of exploration for and extraction of oil and natural gas. Anything to slow down the rate at which humans pull fossil fuels out of the ground and convert them to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere can only help.

Substitute Senate Bill 5695 would increase the fines for second- and third-time violators of high-occupancy vehicle and toll lanes. This would help keep buses out of gridlock, too.

You can look up your representatives here or call the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000, or 1-800-833-6388 for TTY.

Lane Cam Bill Alive Again, Passes House

Addendum: Ryan Packer live-tweeted the floor debate.

Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon

The State House voted 57-41 Monday to pass Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1793, which would allow automated camera enforcement of various traffic laws, including bus-only lanes. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D – Burien).

The bill was amended in the House Transportation Committee to be limited to Seattle. The bill was amended further on the House floor Monday to be a pilot project through 2021, with only warnings being issued in 2019, and then giving a warning for the first offense thereafter. Additionally, half the net revenue will go to the Highway Safety Fund. The area where the cameras would be allowed was also reduced to the general vicinity of downtown.

Four Republicans — Mary Dye (Pomeroy), Carolyn Eslick (Sultan), Morgan Irwin (Enumclaw), and Drew Stokesbary (Auburn) — voted for the bill.  Four Democrats — Brian Blake (Aberdeen), Steve Kirby (Tacoma), Jeff Morris (Mount Vernon), and Derek Stanford (Bothell),  — voted against the bill.

The bill still has to go through the Senate Transportation Committee and get passed in identical language in the Senate. Since the bill is considered necessary to the transportation budget, it has until the last day of the session — April 28 — to get passed.

Community Transit Second ORCA Agency to Adopt Low-Income Half Fare

Credit: Community Transit

Community Transit’s Board of Directors approved a proposal Thursday afternoon to create a low-income fare category, and make the fare half the regular fare, rounded down to the nearest quarter. The new fare category will take effect July 1.

CT will be only the second agency in the ORCA pod where low-income ORCA users will save 50% or more on their fare, joining Kitsap Transit.

Each low-income ORCA card is free for first-time recipients, and is charged the low-income fare for each service that has a low-income fare. All the agencies, except Washington State Ferries, honor transfer value from trips on other ORCA-paid services, for 2 hours from time of payment. All but WSF also honor monthly PugetPasses. Loaded ORCA product will remain the only medium for getting any of the low-income fare discounts.

Everett Transit is in the middle of its comment period on three proposals, two of which would establish a low-income fare category, and the second of which would make that low-income fare a half fare. ET’s Option 2 would also make its youth fare (for riders 6-18) a half fare.

Continue reading “Community Transit Second ORCA Agency to Adopt Low-Income Half Fare”