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Proposed 2015 Fare Change

Public Hearing

The King County Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed fare changes on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 1:30 p.m. in the King County Courthouse, Room 1001, 516 Third Ave, Seattle.

See proposed ordinance 2014-0038 »

If you have questions or comments call 206-296-1000 or email the King County Council. To request accommodations for people who have a disability, contact Anne Noris at 206-477-1024 or by email.

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On Jan. 14, 2014, King County Executive Dow Constantine proposed several changes in Metro’s fares. The King County Council will consider the proposal in January and February of this year.

If approved, the changes will take effect March 1, 2015 for individual riders and employers that have “Choice” accounts. For businesses, schools and colleges that participate in Metro’s Passport program for their employees or students, the changes would take effect as contracts are renewed beginning March 1, 2015.

The following changes are proposed:

  • Increase fares by 25 cents per trip in all current Metro fare categories—adults, youth, seniors and people with disabilities—for all regularly scheduled transit services
  • Increase fares by $0.50 per trip for Access paratransit service, which serves people with disabilities who can’t use regular bus service.
  • Create a new reduced fare of $1.50 per trip for qualifying riders who have low incomes.

2015 Fare Change Proposal

Category Current Fare Proposed Fare Difference
Adult 1-zone Peak $2.50 $2.75 +$0.25
Adult 2-zone Peak $3.00 $3.25 +$0.25
Adult Off-Peak $2.25 $2.50 +$0.25
Adult Low Income NA $1.50  
Youth $1.25 $1.50 +$0.25
Senior/Disabled $0.75 $1.00 +$0.25
Access Paratransit $1.25 $1.75 +$0.50

The fare proposal is intended to strike a balance between generating revenue that will support Metro service and keeping bus trips affordable for people with low incomes. Altogether, the fare changes would result in an estimated $6.6 million in additional revenue annually for Metro.

Fares are the second-largest source of revenue for Metro, after sales tax. Following the fare increase, Metro is expected to recover more than 27 percent of its operating cost from fare revenue. This is above the 25 percent target established by the County.

Metro fares were last changed in 2011. Fares were also increased in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

How the reduced fare for people with low incomes would work

The reduced fare would be available to adult riders with incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level—about $23,000 in annual income for an individual. This is the most widely used income guideline by government agencies for determining eligibility for assistance and services. King County would work with local and state service providers to determine the most accessible and cost-effective way to verify program eligibility. Eligible individuals would have to requalify for this fare program periodically.

Qualified riders would have to use an ORCA card to pay the fare; cash would not be accepted for reduced-fare payment on buses. For eligible reduced fare customers, using an ORCA card, loading value onto the card, fare payment, and transfers would be the same as it is for other ORCA card users. Find details here

More details about how the reduced fare will work will be included in an implementation plan that Metro will submit to the County Council by June 1, 2014.

The proposal for a reduced fare for people with low incomes builds upon the recommendation made by King County’s Low Income Fare Options Advisory Committee in 2013.

Metro's other programs that provide reduced fares will continue. These are the Human Services Ticket Program, Taxi Scrip Program, and Regional Reduced Fare Permit (RRFP) program for seniors and people with disabilities and the reduced fare for youth.

Access fare change

The Access fare increase is a step toward Metro’s policy, adopted in 1999, of having the paratransit fare reach parity with the regular off-peak fare. The increase also reflects the much higher expense of operating Access service compared to regular bus service.

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Updated: February 13, 2014