Ride Free Area (discontinued Sept. 2012)


Ending the Ride Free Area and changing to pay-on-entry

Pay in front. Exit in back.

On Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012, the Ride Free Area in downtown Seattle ended. At the same time, riders were required to pay on entry for all trips in King County. Using your ORCA card is the quickest way to board and it gives you a two-hour transfer window when making multiple bus trips within a short timeframe and allows transfers between transit agencies based on the fare purchased.

These changes have standardize Metro's boarding procedure. You will board and pay at the front door for every ride. The pay on entry system is being used on Sound Transit and Community Transit buses operating in King County.

The only exceptions are on Metro's RapidRide lines at stations with ORCA readers, ST's Link Light Rail and Sounder which allows boarding at all doors and on morning Vashon Island service leaving the Fauntleroy ferry dock for downtown Sea ttle.

Having everyone pay on entry may add to the time it takes to board the bus, especially in the tunnel and at busy downtown Seattle bus stops during commute times. However, these changes will make Metro's system simpler to use. It also will help speed up the de-boarding process. Riders will be encouraged to exit through the rear doors whenever possible. People who need to, however, such as those with strollers or mobility devices, anyone needing a little extra time, or anyone who needs to let the driver know that they are removing a bike from the rack, can exit by the front door.

If you don’t already have an ORCA card, now is a great time to get one to speed up boarding the bus and make it easier to transfer between all the modes of public transportation in the region. Check to see if your employer offers ORCA as a transportation benefit, or buy your own ORCA card.

Free downtown circulator bus

Solid Ground - Downtown Circulator Bus

There is a free downtown circulator bus service operated by Solid Ground for people living on low incomes and those who access health and human services in the downtown area. The Solid Ground free downtown circulator bus will serve 7 stops every 30 minutes, Monday – Friday, 7:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.


  • 2012 Ride Free Area - Public Engagement Report