Protect the Poor. Vote Yes.

Real ChangeWhen it comes to protecting the poor, there is no more trusted news source than Real Change News. Real Change has published an editorial that efficiently lays out why King County Metro is in the financial difficulty it is in, and explains why those who have the interests of King County’s poorer denizens at heart should vote Yes on King County Proposition 1.

Transportation cuts are themselves regressive, depriving poor and disabled people, senior citizens and young people of necessary transportation. Many low-wage earners simply can’t afford a car, and they have no other way to get to jobs, school, medical appointments and other basic needs.

It bears repeating that Metro has no back-up funding plan for the low-income fare program if Proposition 1 loses. Losing that program could cost each potential low-income qualifier up to $864 per year.

Please vote to protect the poor. Please vote Yes, and postmark your ballot by April 22.

Sounder Service to Mariners Returns Sunday

Sounder MarinersSounder trains will once again serve Sunday afternoon Mariners games for the 2014 season, starting this Sunday when the M’s and the Oakland A’s slug it out for first place in the American League West Division. There will also be Sounder service to the afternoon Memorial Day game against the LA Angels, since commuter service won’t be running that day.

The departure times for weekend Sounder event trains are available here.

The full Mariners season schedule is available here.

Note to baseball fans flying in from out of town: Sounder is not the train you are looking for. What you want is Link Light Rail, which takes you from the airport to downtown Seattle, via Safeco Field. Be sure and buy a train ticket or an ORCA card at the station vending machines, and be prepared to show it to the fare enforcement officers during your train ride.

The full list of scheduled weekend Sounder event service dates for 2014, so far, is available here.

In addition to serving weekend afternoon Mariners and and Sounders games, Sounder and the Emerald Downs Pony Express from Auburn Station will team up to serve Emerald Downs.

Afternoon South Sounder counter-peak runs are at a good time for getting to weeknight games. Sound Transit keeps extra ST Express buses, and super-frequent Central Link trains, on stand-by to get home after the games.

Buses that run by Safeco Field include King County Metro routes 21, 41, 101, 106, 124, 131, 132, and 150; and ST Expresses 522, 545, 577, 578, 590, and 594. Metro 150 will get you back to Kent Station. ST Express 578 will get you back to Auburn Station, Sumner Station, and Puyallup Station, but you have to get back up to 2nd Ave Ext S & S Jackson St to catch it. ST Express 594 will get you back to Tacoma Dome Station and Lakewood Station.

Central Link connects to some bus routes that don’t have to slog through the game traffic, and get you back to Sounder stations, including Metro route 180 from Seatac/Airport Station to Kent Station and Auburn Station, and ST Express 574 from Seatac/Airport Station to Tacoma Dome Station. No, the 140 from Tukwila International Boulevard Station to Tukwila Sounder Station doesn’t run late enough, but hopefully the F Line will. (Wouldn’t it be cool if stand-by 180s and 574s were waiting at the Link stations, departing as they filled up?)

BTW, If you want Metro buses to continue to run late enough to take fans home from baseball games, you might want to vote for King County Proposition 1. There may be far more important reasons to vote Yes, but I just wanted to throw that one out, too.

Why Would We Want Metro to Emulate Pierce and Community Transit?

We’ve heard some odd, and often contradictory, arguments from the No on Proposition 1 campaign. One real head-scratcher is that Metro should have acted more like Pierce Transit and Snohomish Community Transit.

Let’s check in on Community Transit. Here is CT’s 2014-2018 Transit Development Plan. As Martin reported, CT made 160,000 hours of service cuts (37% of service) from 2008 to 2013. The service restoration plan based on sales tax revenue going up only brings back 45% of that service between now and 2019.

ct_service

The plummeting of annual boardings from 12 million in 2008 to 9,096,544 in 2013 is shown on page 59:

Continue reading “Why Would We Want Metro to Emulate Pierce and Community Transit?”

Municipal League *Supports* Proposition 1

The No on Proposition 1 campaign has stepped in it once again with an op-ed piece that twice cites critical analysis of King County Metro by the Municipal League of King County.

There are two problems with this picture:

(1) The Municipal League gave Metro a glowing review in a report it issued in 2013;

and …

(2) The Municipal League has endorsed King County Proposition 1.

The 2013 report is a useful document regardless of the Proposition 1 campaign, and includes some additional recommendations that will probably enjoy a lot of support among this blog’s readership.

Here is the report’s summary:

1. Performance Measurement and Reporting. Metro has made significant strides in sharing its statistics with the public by posting them on its website http://metro.kingcounty.gov/ under the tab About Metro/Accountability.

2. Service Allocation Policy. The newly adopted Strategic Plan and service guidelines seem to provide a promising framework for allocating service based on route productivity and ridership demand, serving those most dependent on transit, and providing geographic value. [emphasis added by this author]

3. Strategic Plan for Public Transportation. The new Strategic Plan for Public Transportation 2011-2021 is a more forthright and easier to understand plan than the previous plan discussed in our 2008 Municipal League report.

4. Clarity and Transparency. Metro has made significant changes and improvements to its reporting which is included in many forms on the King County Metro website, http://metro.kingcounty.gov/. We do offer additional suggestions for improvement in the discussion below [the full report].

Metro’s transparency stands in stark contrast to an opposition campaign that has set up fake front groups that gratuitously/Orwellianly include the word “transit” in their names, is led by a real organization that has been exposed for fake support for buses, and is taking the words of a prominent watchdog organization out of context to make it look like that group is opposing, rather than supporting, King County Proposition 1.

New Darrington Bus Route 231

rt231.As workers continue to search for any survivors in the devastating Oso mudslide, Community Transit has just started a new alternate bus route, 231, serving Darrington and nearby communities that lost service on route 230 due to the blockage of State Route 530. The route takes the long way around, via State Route 20 through Skagit County.

The schedule is available here. Community Transit is also working with affected residents to form vanpools.

Our hearts go out to those who lost loved ones in this tragedy. Our gratitude goes out to the army of rescue workers who have done everything from providing food, shelter, clothing, and transportation, to digging through the muck to find anyone who might still be alive under there.

Never Mind About Those Express Buses

When passenger train service is on the ballot, there always seems to a group saying that bus rapid transit (BRT) is better than rail. The Eastside Transportation Association (ETA) was that group in 2008, when voters passed Sound Transit 2.

flip flopHere is an ETA campaign piece calling for “BRT” instead of Light Rail Transit, from that 2008 campaign. By BRT, the group really means an enlargement of the network of express bus service.

Here is another ETA campaign piece calling for “Bus Rapid Transit”, with a headline (pg. 5) of “We Need More Transit – NOW!“, also from the 2008 campaign.

Oddly, ETA is now campaigning to downsize the regional express bus network, such as it is, by working to defeat King County Proposition 1.

There isn’t anything in Proposition 1 about building rail for ETA to complain about. Proposition 1 is about saving the Metro bus service we currently have. Also, cities would get 40% of the funding stream from Proposition 1 to do needed maintenance of bridges, roads, and sidewalks.

Defeat of Proposition 1 would lead to King County Metro having to cut 17% of its bus service hours. Nearly every eastside bus route would be impacted. In particular, 12 of Metro’s 21 eastside commuter express routes would be cut entirely.

The Eastside Transportation Association did not respond to my request to clarify its position on Proposition 1, but the most recent statement it has on the topic makes it clear it is opposed, and believes too much money is already being spent on buses.

John Fox on KC Prop 1

johnfoxOn Monday, the Seattle City Council postponed a vote on a resolution to endorse King County Proposition 1, at the behest of John Fox, Coordinator of the Seattle Displacement Coalition. Mr. Fox wants to put conditions on what Seattle’s share of Proposition 1 revenues can be used for in the endorsement resolution. In particular, he has been urging folks to ask the City Council to mandate that the city’s portion of Proposition 1 revenue be used for “bus hours only”.

Mr. Fox graciously agreed to an interview regarding this proposal.

He clarified that he has no problem with Proposition 1 revenues being used for bus capital improvement projects (e.g. bus lanes and signal priority), sidewalks, road maintenance, and bridge maintenance, “as long as they are related to bus service”. This is largely in keeping with his stance supporting sidewalks, road maintenance, and bridge maintenance when he vocally opposed Seattle Proposition 1 in 2011, although at that time, he didn’t insist it be related to bus service.

Fox’s drop-dead condition is that “Not one dime of Seattle’s portion of Proposition 1 revenue can be allowed to be spent on rail.” Nobody had even brought up the idea of spending any Proposition 1 money on rail projects until Fox raised the issue.

But he added an additional word that could wreak havoc on bus service in Seattle: “neighborhood”, as in “neighborhood bus service”. He doesn’t want Proposition 1 money to go to downtown bus routes, unless the neighborhoods ask for their share of money to go there. He believes that “Downtown businesses should do more to subsidize downtown bus service.” The problem with this approach is that most of the overcrowded bus routes happen to serve downtown, and desperately need service hours added.

What would King County Proposition 1 advocates gain from the City Council meeting his conditions? He says if he doesn’t get the language he wants in the city council resolution “I would be much more likely to actively campaign against Proposition 1.” He couldn’t promise that the Seattle Displacement Coalition would endorse Proposition 1 even if the City Council accepted the language he is requesting. According to Fox, SDC is very strongly opposed to regressive taxes, but its membership understands that the funding mechanisms of Proposition 1 are the only options allowed by the state to save bus service.

Various pro-Prop-1 groups have bent over backwards to minimize the regressiveness of Proposition 1. These efforts included a successful campaign to institute a low-income fare for Metro bus service, and a rebate for low-income car tab payers. Low-income bus riders will end up saving a lot more in bus fare than they would be paying in a car tab or the 0.1% additional sales tax. Failure of Proposition 1 would mean the county would almost certainly have to ditch the low-income fare program for lack of funding. A constant refrain among the members of the Low Income Fare Options Advisory Committee members was that the low-income fare program should not be funded by cutting bus service.

So, it comes down to this: Is John Fox willing to burn the whole house down to prevent even an outside chance that one penny will be spent on rail?

Ballot Statement Bad Math

[Note: The precise text of this post has changed since original publication thanks to my inept version management. – Martin]

King County voters will soon be receiving their ballots for the April 22 special election, featuring King County Proposition 1, which is needed to stave off a 17% cut in Metro bus service. The Pro and Con statements for the Voters’ Guide are now available online.

The Con statement contains this math-challenged whopper:

Proposed new taxes would burden low-income and transit-dependent individuals, through highly regressive impacts, while unjustly skyrocketing taxes on motorists from $40 for every vehicle over two years to $600 each over 10 years: an unacceptable 1,500% increase.

First, let’s fill in the blanks. The county car tab that is about to expire was $20 per year, for two years. The car tab in Proposition 1 is $60 per year, for ten years. Unmentioned in the Con statement is the fact that the county will rebate $20 off the tab for low-income drivers. Don’t be confused into thinking the car tab is $600 per year, as the Con statement might lead you to believe.

Next, one can only get close to a 1500% increase by comparing ten years of car tabs to two. This is a completely meaningless and dishonest calculation. The one-time increase in the car tab is $40 (200%), or $20 (100%) for low-income drivers.  After the first year, the car tabs stay the same. Don’t let the deceptively-phrased Con statement lead you to believe the county car tab will continue to go up each year.

Additionally, the County Council, acting as the King County Transportation District Board, will have the power to discontinue the 0.1% sales tax increase and car tab at any time, should it find a more progressive funding source (and hopefully the state legislature will someday allow that to happen).

Here is another whopper, from the rebuttal to the statement For:

End bus subsidies for wealthy riders at the expense of the transit dependent.

This statement got it wrong in so many ways. Every transit-dependent resident of King County stands to benefit from staving off the 17% bus service cuts all over the county. Nothing about this proposition is being done at the expense of the bus-dependent. Nor will anybody’s bus service be improved by voting down Proposition 1. Fares are being increased for those who can afford to pay, while low-income riders will have a new, lower fare, but only if Proposition 1 passes and provides the funding for the low-income fare program.

Attempts to reach the un-named oppostion statement writers at their advertised website were blocked by a password request.

Sound Transit Will Soon Be Able to Issue Notices of Infraction On the Spot

Avgeek Joe/Flickr

Engrossed Substitute House Bill 2111, which will enable Sound Transit fare enforcement officers to print out and issue citations notices of infraction to fare evaders on the spot, as previously reported here, here, and here, came up for a vote in the House Monday. The House voted to concur in the Senate amendment and pass the bill, 95-3.

The Senate accepted the striking amendment offered by the Senate Transportation Committee on Friday, and then passed the bill as amended, 38-11. The effect of the amendment was simply to remove the requirement for the citation notice of infraction to include the information about the citee’s personal vehicle. Since the citations notices of infraction fare enforcement officers issue are for fare evasion, personal vehicle information is irrelevant. Without having to include space for this information, the citations notices of infraction can be printed by portable printer devices small enough that officers can carry the printers with them.

The bill now heads to the governor’s desk, where there is no reason to believe he won’t sign it. The law is expected to go into effect 90 days after adjournment of the session (March 13), which would be June 11.

Senator Wants Sound Transit to Pay for City Residential Parking Permits

As mentioned in Thursday’s news roundup and in a recent Publicola article, on Tuesday, the State Senate passed Senate Bill 6001, its supplemental transportation appropriations bill. Among the amendments tacked onto the bill was this strike at Sound Transit, sponsored by Sen. Bob Hasegawa:

“(10) As a condition of eligibility to receive grant funds under this section, a regional transit authority must:
(a) Consider the potential impacts of that facility on parking availability for residents nearby;
(b) Provide appropriate parking impact mitigation for residents, as determined by the authority in collaboration with the local government of the area in which the parking impacts occur. Parking impact mitigation may include, but is not limited to, subsidizing zoned residential parking permits in the vicinity of the facility; and
(c) Pay for the costs of the parking permits in the vicinity of the facility, if a local government implements zoned residential parking permits as a direct result of the parking impacts of the facility.”


The language of this amendment is similar to Senate Bill 6489, also sponsored by Sen. Hasegawa. That bill got out of the Senate Transportation Committee, but made it no further.

The amendment does not define “vicinity”. Nor does it specify a cap on how much a city can charge for Restricted Parking Zone (RPZ) permits. In theory, the City of Bellevue could deem the whole city to be in the “vicinity” of Sound Transit infrastructure, declare the whole city to be an RPZ, charge $1 million per annual permit, and require Sound Transit to pay the entire cost of these $1 million annual parking permits.

It is unclear why Sound Transit should be accountible for difficulties neighbors have parking their cars, in the public right-of-way, in front of their own homes, when other public infrastructure, like colleges and ferry docks, have RPZs around them, and their governing agencies are not being asked required to pay for RPZ permits.

It is also unknown whether the senator tried to intercede with the City of Seattle over the $65 cost of a 2-year parking permit (or $10, for those who qualify as low-income). If the neighbors don’t want to pay this small amount to park in front of their homes, they have a more direct option: Dissolve their RPZ.

Requests to Sen. Hasegawa’s office for comment on the amendment have gone unanswered.

Update: Commenter cuyahoga points out that permits in some of the 33 RPZs (2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 18, 19, 20, A, and B) are fully or partially subsidized by the University of Washington, North Seattle Community College, Harborview Hospital, Seattle University, Seattle Pacific University, Providence Hospital, Group Health Cooperative, Swedish Hospital, and Landmark Theater.

Sounder to Serve First Two Sounders Matches

Zargoman/Flickr

Update: The North Sounder train has been cancelled for Saturday, March 8, due to a mudsline. This will also affect some Amtrak runs Saturday, and possibly some Sunday. Any mudsline on the track triggers a 48-hour waiting period before passenger train service can resume through the affected area.

Sound Transit has just announced that it will be running Sounder train service to the Sounders’ season opener match, this Saturday, March 8, against Sporting Kansas City. Sounder will also serve the second match on Saturday, March 15, against Toronto FC.

Notice the unusual schedule for this Saturday, as first kick is at high noon. Trains depart Lakewood at 9:45am and Everett at 10:15am. Returning trains depart 35 minutes after the match.

The match on the 15th is at 1:30 p.m. The Sounder schedule for next week is not yet set.

Sound Transit’s media team graciously provided this poster with some details regarding ramping up ST Express and Link service. Link is expected to run its normal schedule pre-match, and roll out however many trains it takes to clear the crowd after the match. Sending trains to go into service at Stadium Station is a possibility, if needed. But the public information officer assures me that if you head to Stadium Station to go south, you won’t be watching full train after full train pass you by.

There will be extra buses on stand-by after the matches, which will go into service as needed.

For getting to the match this Saturday, a couple extra 594 buses will depart from Tacoma Dome Station at times that will be determined live-day to handle overload. A couple extra 512 buses will depart Lynnwood Transit Center at 9:30 and 10:00 a.m. Metro-operated routes will deploy extra service as needed.

If you haven’t been to a Sounders match before, consider going to the pre-match party in Pioneer Square that starts an hour and a half before the match, followed by the March to the Match an hour before the match. The party is family friendly, with prizes being distributed to a few lucky kids. The party and march feature the tunes of what is probably the only professional soccer marching band in the world, Sound Wave.

If you come by bike, be sure to be there early. There is lots of bike parking on the northwest side of the stadium, but it all gets used.

Regardless, plan to show up early, as there is a line to get through the security check, and make sure any bag you bring with you fits within the size regulations. If you plan to bring food or drink, take a look through those regulations.

ESHB 2111 advances out of Senate Transportation Committee

The Washington State Capitol
The Washington State Capitol by aidaneus

Ben originally reported on House Bill 2111, which would enable Sound Transit fare inspectors to issue citations immediately to fare evaders when they are caught, instead of having to mail the citations. The bill was amended on the floor of the House and passed out of the House unanimously on February 13, as Engrossed Substitute House Bill 2111.

ESHB 2111 got a hearing in the Senate Transportation Committee on February 24 and was amended to allow the citation to not include information on the perpetrator’s personal vehicle (which would seem a common-sense improvement, when one is being ticketed for riding a train without paying).

Amazingly, a representative from the Municipal and District Court Judges Association objected to the idea of Sound Transit not including this information, as it would make the citation non-uniform with other traffic citations in the state. In particular, it would allow Sound Transit to print a smaller form than the standard one. The irony here is that it was a district court administrator who had requested Sound Transit to find a way to not have to mail out citations in the first place, since the district courts handle that expense. Indeed, the Administrative Office of the Court has been denying Sound Transit’s requests to print a smaller form that doesn’t include the perpetrator’s personal vehicle information since 2012, and has been bureaucratically unhelpful in how they would do a better form.

On Wednesday, the committee members gave the concern a collective facepalm and voted to pass the bill out of committee, with the amendment, and just one No vote.

The bill next has to get out of the Senate Rules Committee, and get voted on by the full Senate by next Friday, March 7. Members of the Rules Committee are listed here. If you wish to contact your state senator, you can look her/him up here.

ESHB 2111 Moves to State Senate

The Washington State Capitol
The Washington State Capitol by aidaneus

Update: ESHB 2111 has been scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Committee on Transportation Monday, February 24, 2014, at 3:30 p.m.

Ben previously reported on House Bill 2111, which would allow fare inspectors to hand citations directly to fare evaders at the time they are caught. This bill passed out of the House unanimously (with one representative excused) last Thursday, after being amended.

Once inspectors are able to print out citations on the spot, they will be able to spend an extra 1.7 hours each day checking fares instead of sitting behind a desk entering data for the court system to then mail out the citations.

Engrossed Substitute House Bill 2111 (which ESHB 2111 is now officially called since it was amended on the Floor of the House), appears to have answered the concerns of the court administrators about the details of the bill, and will move on to the Senate next.

Want the low-income fare? Support the sales-tax/car-tab increase.

Fresh off of its unanimous approval for the creation of a Transportation Benefit District needed for the sales-tax and car-tab increase that is expected to be on the ballot in April, the King County Council will have a hearing on Tuesday, February 18 at 1:30 p.m. on Metro’s fare change proposal.

The proposed low-income fare has been a pet project of the Seattle Transit Riders Union, and has received a lot of support from this blog’s staff. Editor-in-Chief Martin Duke called for a low-income ORCA long before TRU existed.

Answering the call to incentivize ORCA use by making cash fares more expensive than electronic fares, Metro is proposing to make the low-income fare only available electronically. That important element of the program will end up helping fund the program through travel-time efficiencies. It will also give non-low-income riders whose rides will have just gotten faster a reason to like the program, and thereby help the program survive.

But now, TRU and the Seattle Human Services Coalition are calling for the low-income fare to be reduced to $1. In principle, I’d love to see that. In practice, such an outcome would require the youth fare to also be rolled back to $1 (from its current $1.25) in order to avoid making the line for the low-income ORCA a lot longer and creating significant additional administrative burden in perpetuity.

Reducing service in order to fund the low-income fare helps nobody, which is why the implementation of the low-income fare should be contingent upon the passage of the sales-tax/car-tab increase.

Even if the low-income fare and the tax package aren’t explicity linked, the financial reality is that if the tax package fails, the county council will have to scrap the low-income fare program in order to preserve more service.

Everyone who wants to see the low-income fare program become a reality needs to get behind the tax package.

Thank you to all of the County Councilmembers for taking the lead in saving Metro bus service!

Chicago Transit Bridges Gap Between Contactless Transit Passes and Private Cards

transitchicago.com

The Chicago Transit Authority rolled out it’s new Ventra Card last October, becoming the first transit agency in the US to offer a fare payment card that can hold both passes and cash value, and that can be used as a debit card for non-transit transactions.

With Chicago’s transition to contactless open payment technology, CTA becomes the second US transit agency to allow open payment, joining the Utah Transit Authority in accepting payment from private debit and credit cards that have contactless technology, when boarding a bus or paying at a train turnstile.

For either Ventra or your private card, you would need to set up separate transit and debit accounts on the card, but once the transit account is set up, your private contactless card can hold passes, just like Ventra.

The transition has not been without hiccups. CTA has been holding off payments to the vendor, Cubic, Inc., until Cubic meets its contractual performance requirements. Cubic has been meeting the requirements in January, and will start receiving its contractual payments upon two consecutive months of meeting the performance standards.

Just three months after rollout, over 75% of rides are being paid for with Ventra. Here are some possible reasons why:

· The cash bus fare is $2.25. The electronic bus fare is $2. For reduced-fare riders, the fare is $1.10 cash or $1 electronically.
· There is a $5 fee to get the Ventra card, but it comes with $5 cash value loaded once you register the card within 90 days.
· CTA has 1-, 3-, 7-, and 30-day passes, all available through electronic media.
· Ventra can be used to pay for multiple riders.

CTA also offers Ventra Tickets, for single rides and 1-day passes.

Have a Safe Super Bowl Sunday!

wikimedia

With most of the bars in town showing the Super Bowl today, and scarcely a mention of any family-friendly party venues, today is a really good day to not get behind the wheel.

A short list of restaurants and bars showing the Super Bowl and billed as “Kid-Friendly” is available here.

The Seattle Center is offering a no-alcohol place to view the Super Bowl for free, in the Armory / Center House Main Floor. But there are no plans for big screens, if that is what you are seeking.

If you know of other transit-friendly/family-friendly establishments showing the Super Bowl, please list them in the comments below. Any cab companies or for-hire driver services, or any other free or discounted service to get people home today, can also promote their specials in the comments below.

If you plan to watch the game somewhere other than at home, and plan to drink, plan not to drive. Please and thanks.

Update: The big screen in the Microsoft Auditorium at the Seattle Central Library will show the Super Bowl for free. Doors open at 2:30 p.m. The Bothell branch of King County Libraries will also show it for free.

What If Metro Were to Have a Low-Income Access ORCA?

SD70MACMAN/Flickr

As part of the fare increases being considered by the King County Council to take effect March 2015, Metro is planning to raise Access fares by $0.50 per ride, to $1.75. That’s a big “ouch” for some of the poorest paratransit users in King County, an extra $216 a year for monthly pass buyers.

Assuredly, Metro must have pondered applying the low-income fare category to Access fares during the deliberations of the Low Income Fare Options Advisory Committee. The lawyers might have been squeamish about the idea of asking paratransit riders to provide proof of income, since federal law prohibits income-based requirements in determining who is eligible to ride paratransit. Of course, offering a discounted fare to those who can prove they are at or below 200% of the poverty level is a separate issue, and one that has not hamstrung the other U.S. transit agencies that offer a low-income paratransit fare.

Indeed, the low-income paratransit fare has gone hand-in-hand with low-income fixed route fares at Lincoln, Nebraska’s StarTrans, Tucson, Arizona’s SunTrans, and San Mateo County, California’s SamTrans.

The industry standard for paratransit fares is drifting toward charging the federal legal limit: twice the regular fare for a fixed-route trip of similar length. (See question 12 on the linked page.) However, some have interpreted Fell v. Spokane Transit as limiting paratransit fares in Washington State to merely equal to the regular fare for a fixed-route trip of similar length. Metro has stated its intent to move Access fares toward that level.

SamTrans has collected a lot of useful demographic data that may or may not translate well to King County. In particular, 15% of SamTrans paratransit registrants qualify for a low-income fare, but these riders account for 50% of all trips taken.

Extrapolating from this data, Metro would likely have to raise the non-low-income Access fare at least as much as it lowers the new low-income Access fare from the proposed $1.75 in order to make the roll-out of a low-income Access ORCA revenue-neutral. Metro could freeze the low-income Access fare at $1.25, while introducing a 25-cent surcharge for paying at the time of the ride instead of pre-paying through the rider’s ORCA account. That 25-cent deterrent would hopefully reduce cash handling to nearly zero, and pretty much eliminate Access fare evasion.

To offset this fare freeze, the non-low-income Access fare could go all the way up to $2.50 (plus a 25-cent cash payment surcharge), which is in line with the ratio used by the other agencies. If San Mateo County’s demographics can be translated to King County, this alternative to the $1.75 proposal should end up yielding more revenue. At the same time, cash-strapped riders who depend on Access to get around would not be nickeled and dimed into being housebound. Those who don’t qualify for the discount would still be getting an incredible bargain at $2.50 for curb-to-curb service, and could obviously afford to pay the higher fare.

Instead of inching toward one fare policy goal, Metro could reach that goal in one jump and simultaneously hold to King County’s commitment to social equity.

Special Seahawks Sounder Service & Suburban Shuttles Sunday

This is an updated version of our earlier post.

This Sunday, when the Seahawks host the San Fransisco 49ers in the NFC title game, Metro and Sound Transit will both be providing the same Seahawks game-day service they have been providing for all regular-season games and Saturday’s divisional match.

Metro will once again be providing $4 (each way) cash-only shuttles from Northgate Transit Center, Eastgate Park&Ride, and South Kirkland Park & Ride, leaving each lot from 1:25 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and then picking up at 5th Ave S & S Weller St (on the east side of International District / Chinatown Station) after the game.

Sounder will once again be running pre-game trips to Century Link Field and post-game trips back to all Sounder stations. The schedule is a bit different due to the 3:30 start time.

For those flying in from out of town, Link Light Rail gets you from the airport to Century Link Field. You can get an all-day ticket on Link at any ORCA vending machine, including the ones at Seatac/Airport Station, for $5.50. Set Seatac/Airport Station and Westlake Station as the termini of your trips so that you can travel anywhere Link goes all day. The best station for getting to the stadium is International District / Chinatown Station. Stadium Station is designed for the best connection to Safeco Field (where the Mariners play), but is also a decent option if you will be in the south end zone.

If you plan to be staying multiple days and want a free transfer to the bus system, consider getting a $5 ORCA smart card at any ORCA vending machine, and loading it up with several dollars of “e-purse”. There are no day passes, but you get 2 hours of transfer credit from each ride.

$2/hour parking is available in a section of the airport parking garage closest to the station. (I confirmed by phone that the deal extends through the 2014 playoff games, and, oh yeah, the Link ticket price listed on their page is three years out-of-date.) However, you may be lucky and find an open free parking spot at Tukwila International Boulevard Station if you arrive early enough.

If you happen to be riding Amtrak into town, look southeast after you ascend from King Street Station, and that is Century Link Field. You have arrived!

Thanks are due to the Metro and Sound Transit staff who have pulled this service together and re-arranged their schedules to provide this service, as well as overflow runs on all the regular routes and Link.

If you happen to be a 49ers fan, any smack talk about the Seahawks will be considered off-topic for purposes of this post. If you happen to be a Seahawks fan, smack talk about the 49ers will not be considered off-topic, but keep it PG.

Metro Shuttle and Sounder Service for Seahawks Playoff Game this Saturday

  • This Saturday, when the Seahawks host the New Orleans Saints in an NFL divisional playoff game, Metro and Sound Transit will both be providing the same Seahawks game-day service they have been providing for all regular-season games.

    Metro will once again be providing $4 (each way) cash-only shuttles from Northgate Transit Center, Eastgate Park&Ride, and South Kirkland Park & Ride, leaving each lot from 11:25 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and then picking up at 5th Ave S & S Weller St (on the east side of International District / Chinatown Station) after the game.

    Sounder will once again be running pre-game trips to Century Link Field and post-game trips back to all Sounder stations. The schedule may look familiar because it is identical to the regular season game-day schedule. The only difference is this game is on a Saturday.

    For those flying in from out of town, Link Light Rail gets you from the airport to Century Link Field. You can get an all-day ticket on Link at any ORCA vending machine, including the ones at Seatac/Airport Station, for $5.50. Set Seatac/Airport Station and Westlake Station as the termini of your trips so that you can travel anywhere Link goes all day. The best station for getting to the stadium is International District / Chinatown Station. Stadium Station is designed for the best connection to Safeco Field (where the Mariners play), but is also a decent option if you will be in the south end zone.

    If you plan to be staying multiple days and want a free transfer to the bus system, consider getting a $5 ORCA smart card at any ORCA vending machine, and loading it up with several dollars of “e-purse”. There are no day passes, but you get 2 hours of transfer credit from each ride.

    $2/hour parking is available in a section of the airport parking garage closest to the station. (I confirmed by phone that the deal extends through the 2014 playoff games, and, oh yeah, the Link ticket price listed on their page is three years out-of-date.) However, you may be lucky and find an open free parking spot at Tukwila International Boulevard Station if you arrive early enough.

    If you happen to be riding Amtrak into town, look southeast after you ascend from King Street Station, and that is Century Link Field. You have arrived!

    Thanks are due to the Metro and Sound Transit staff who have pulled this service together and re-arranged their schedules to provide this service, as well as overflow runs on all the regular routes and Link.

    If you happen to be a Saints fan, any smack talk about the Seahawks will be considered off-topic for purposes of this post. If you happen to be a Seahawks fan, smack talk about the Saints will not be considered off-topic, but keep it PG.