Beginning today, Metro Transit bus fares will increase for most riders while lower fares are made available for low income riders. These new rates are available through the new ORCA LIFT program. For most riders this will mean a 25 cent increase.
Fare Increases Explained:
King County Metro Transit riders will pay a bit more to ride the bus beginning March 1. The fare change will apply to adults, youth, seniors and people with disabilities who use regularly scheduled transit services.
Transit fares will increase 25 cents for riders and businesses offering “Business Choice” accounts to their employees. Customers who have a Passport or U-Pass through their business or school will notice the change as contracts are renewed after March 1.
Fares for Access paratransit service will increase 50 cents to $1.75 per trip. This adjustment will more closely align Access fares with regular off-peak fares. The increase reflects the much higher expense of operating Access service compared to regular bus service.
The fare increases will place Metro on more stable financial footing and will help keep service on the road.
ORCA LIFT Explained:
Also making its debut March 1 is Metro’s newly created ORCA LIFT reduced fare program, the outcome of an intensive two-year push by King County Executive Dow Constantine and the County Council to make riding the bus more affordable for people struggling to make ends meet.
The reduced ORCA LIFT fare will be $1.50 per trip regardless of time of day or number of zones traveled. It will be available to riders earning at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, about $23,340 annually for an individual.
An ORCA LIFT card is required for the reduced fare. Metro, Public Health–Seattle/King County, along with eight other human service providers from all across the county, have teamed up and are standing by to work with riders to determine eligibility and provide them with ORCA LIFT cards.
Metro and its partners are making it as convenient as possible to sign up and determine eligibility. Just visit ORCALIFT.com to learn more about the program and to locate your nearest enrollment office. A trained customer service representative will help you determine if you are eligible.
The Seattle Streetcar, King County Water Taxi, Sound Transit Link light rail and Kitsap Transit will offer similar reduced fares for riders who have an ORCA LIFT card.
The Regional Reduced Fare Permit and human service ticket programs will continue to assist people who rely on Metro as a safety net.
Seattle transit also is set to expand following the approval of a contract allowing the City of Seattle to purchase about 10% more Metro bus service for the city. Funding comes from the approval of the Seattle Transportation Benefit District Proposition 1 ballot measure voted on last November.
Metro continues too look ahead with upcoming opportunities for public comment and long term planning.
Making the right connections:
In May, we’ll return to the public for more feedback before submitting recommendations to the King County Council and the Sound Transit Board for consideration and adoption in early fall.Beginning March 2, Metro and Sound Transit will be asking for public comments on two alternative transit service networks in northeast Seattle and Capitol Hill and on SR-520. We’ll use what we hear to create a proposal for revising bus service in March 2016, after Link light rail begins serving Capitol Hill and the UW at Husky Stadium.
To receive notifications about public meetings and the launch of our online survey, go towww.kingcounty.gov/metro/LinkConnections and sign up for project updates.
Looking ahead through 2050:
King County Metro wants public input as it launches an intensive long-range planning effort that will help determine what regional transit service will look like in 25 years. With the region’s population expected to increase by 30 percent over the next two decades, this will be Metro’s most comprehensive planning effort yet.
“Over the next year and a half, we will reach out to transit riders, community leaders, and cities across the county to get their input on how Metro should plan for the future,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “As our region continues to grow we need an effective and fully integrated transit system to support our economy and protect our quality of life.”
The planning effort, called “We’ll Get You There: Our Vision for the Future of Public Transportation,” launches at the same time that Sound Transit lays the groundwork for further expansion of light rail, and local cities and the Puget Sound Regional Council update their own transportation and comprehensive plans.
How riders and community members can be involved in the long-term plan:
- Go online at http://www.kcmetrovision.org to learn more about the long-range planning process and how to get involved.
- Take the online survey. Reflect on current transit service and what will be needed in future years to help you get around.
- Looking for more active involvement? Then apply to serve on the community advisory group that will collaborate regularly with Metro to ensure that the final plan represents a diversity of needs and perspectives. The community group will be comprised of residents and others chosen through an open application process. The deadline for applications is February 18.