Sound Transit seeking public comment on proposed ST Express fare simplifications

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ST Express riders can now provide feedback on proposed changes to fares that Sound Transit is considering for implementation later this year. Sound Transit said in an announcement this week it is reviewing options to simplify bus fares for riders throughout the region and lay the groundwork for developing the next generation ORCA fare card system.

ST Express buses now use a two-zone fare structure with each county representing a separate zone. Trips within one county are charged a one-zone fare and trips crossing a county line are charged a two-zone fare.

Sound Transit is considering two options for simplifying ST Express fares. Option 1 is a $3.25 flat fare for adult riders. Option 2 is route-based and eliminates the lower one-zone fare for riders travelling within one county on two-county routes. Option 2 would keep the current $2.75 adult fare for all trips on one-county routes. The adult fare for all trips on two-county routes would be $3.75 under Option 2. Under both options, riders qualifying for ORCA LIFT, Youth, Senior or Disabled fares would see fares for all travel set at the current one-zone level.

Fare Option Comparison Chart 

  Current fares Option 1 – Flat fare Option 2 – Route-based fare
1-zone trips* 2-zone trips* All trips on all routes 1-county routes** 2-county routes***
Adult (age 19-64) $2.75 $3.75 $3.25 $2.75 $3.75
ORCA LIFT (low-income) $1.50 $2.75 $1.50 $1.50
Youth (age 6-18) $1.50 $2.75 $1.50 $1.50
Senior/Disabled (RRFP) $1.00 $1.75 $1.00 $1.00
*1-zone trips are within one county, 2-zone trips cross county lines.

**One-county routes: 522, 540, 541, 542, 545, 550, 554, 555, 556, 560, 566, 567, 577, 580, 596

***Two-county routes: 510, 511, 512, 513, 532, 535, 574, 578, 586, 590, 592, 594, 595

A public hearing on the ST Express fare change will be held at noon Thursday, Feb. 1 in the Ruth Fisher Boardroom in Union Station, 401 S. Jackson St., Seattle. Public comments will also be accepted online at www.soundtransit.org/fare-change, via email at[email protected] or by calling 1-866-940-4387.

Public comments will be accepted until Feb. 11. Pending approval by the Sound Transit Board, fare changes are expected to be implemented by July 2018.

According to Sound Transit, the next generation of the ORCA fare system will allow transit patrons to use multiple forms of payment. It will eliminate the delay between patrons loading value onto a card and paying their fare. Customers will also see improved access to ORCA via a mobile app, user-oriented website and an expanded retail network. The transition to the new system is expected to being around late 2021.

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