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.