The Metropolitan King County Council unanimously approved steps on Monday to simplify Metro Transit’s complex fare structure to a flat $2.75 adult fare.
The new fare plan, which starts in July, eliminates a payment system that fluctuated between time and distance and could cost an adult rider between the ages 19 to 64 anywhere from $2.50 to $3.25 a ride.
“We’ve heard from the community, and we are responding by making riding Metro Transit in King County easier and more convenient,” said Council Vice Chair Rod Dembowski, chair of the Council’s Transportation Economy and Environment Committee, and prime sponsor of the legislation, in a media release. “Riders, especially ones new to the system, should have the confidence to board a Metro bus and know the required fare. I hope the flat fare makes using Metro more understandable and encourages first-time users to ride Metro.”
The new adult fare does not affect the roughly 1 in 3 Metro riders who pay ORCA Lift – Metro’s low income fare program – or youth, senior and disabled fares.
“This proposal makes our fare structure much simpler and easier to use, doing away with zone and peak-period fares,” said King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci, Chair of the Regional Transit Committee. “The result will be no change or a fare decrease for most riders and will make transit more attractive for thousands of daily riders on the Eastside and all over King County.”
Fare simplification was recommended by the Regional Fare Forum, a group of elected officials from King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, tasked with simplifying and modernizing the region’s transit fare policies. From March to June of 2017, Metro Transit engaged riders in an extensive survey and outreach process to develop the flat fare concept.
“Thanks to Executive Dow Constantine’s leadership and the Council’s action today, Metro service will be easier to use and more accessible for the hundreds of thousands of commuters who depend on us,” said Metro Transit’s General Manager Rob Gannon. “Customers can expect better service overall, with faster boardings, reduced delays and improved safety due to fewer disputes over payment when the $2.75 flat fare takes effect.”
The council also voted for additional funding to assist low income riders who are not covered by ORCA Lift and directed Metro to increase efforts to enroll eligible adults into ORCA Lift before new fares take effect.
“Today we took action that will simplify our current fare system,” said Councilmember Dave Upthegrove. “Along with adopting a flat fare, we directed Metro to boost outreach efforts for passengers, including service workers with nontraditional hours that may be eligible for Metro’s reduced fare ORCA LIFT program.”