Sound Transit is reviewing ST Express bus fares with the goal to simplify and make fares easier for customers to use, and they’re seeking public comment through this Sunday, Feb. 11.

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Simplified fares will:

  • Be easier to understand
  • Speed up boarding
  • Better align fares with other transit agencies

Two options are being considered:

  1. An adult flat fare of $3.25
  2. A route-based fare that eliminates the one-zone fare on routes that serve two counties.  Both options would reduce fares for ORCA LIFT, Youth, Senior, and Disabled riders making two-county trips.

Pending Board approval, Sound Transit expects to implement any fare changes in July 2018, when King County Metro applies its new $2.75 flat fare.

What is the difference between zone-based fares and route-based fares?
For Sound Transit, county lines currently represent fare zone boundaries, and fares are charged based on whether a rider travels across a county line rather than the distance their route travels.  The route-based fare option would set a single fare for each route. Under this scenario, fares would remain unchanged for 93 percent of adult trips. For seven percent of adult trips within one county on a two-county route, fares would rise by $1.00.

How would this help simplify fares between agencies?
Option 1 would align fare levels for reduced fare riders with King County Metro, and align the fare structure with flat fare structures adopted by King County Metro, Pierce Transit, Everett Transit and Kitsap Transit.

Option 2 would align fare levels with King County Metro for adult riders on one-county routes and for all reduced fare riders.

Both options would simplify the design of the next generation ORCA system.

When reviewing the fare simplification options, what other factors did staff consider?

  • Fares must be set in $0.25 increments following our agreement with other transit agencies in the region.
  • Options proposed should keep overall ST Express system revenue as close to revenue neutral as possible.

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