County council discussing changes to Metro rates

Courtesy of King County Metro

An ordinance that would simplify Metro bus fares in the county was referred to committee at a King County Council meeting Aug. 27.

The fares would be standardized to $2.75 for a bus ticket, regardless of the line or time of day.

According to county documents, staff recommended this to reduce confusion due to the current structure.

If ultimately adopted by the council, it would be implemented in July 2018 and only apply to full fare adult riders, which make up roughly 70 percent of all riders.

ORCA Lift, youth, senior and disabled fares would remain unchanged.

Currently full fare adults are charged $2.50 for off-peak tickets, $2.75 for Seattle peak tickets and $3.25 for commuters crossing Seattle city limits during peak hours.

Children under 5 ride free and youths, seniors and the disabled and low-income adults pay only $1.50 for tickets.

Simplifying tickets would help make the fare structure, which the county documents described as “among the most complex in the nation,” easier to understand.

Current fees are assessed based on whether the riders cross zone boundaries that are approximately the Seattle city limits during certain peak hours, causing confusion for many people, the documents said.

However, since raising prices negatively affects some riders, the documents state the county will increase its outreach to increase access for low-income and other communities that may be hurt by the increase.

Discussion about changing the fare structure began in 2016 when the ORCA Joint Board began an initiative to improve service and prepare the system for transit growth as the number of people living in the county increases.

As wealth continues to accumulate in Seattle and other cities, many communities, and particularly communities of color, low-income households and other minority groups are being squeezed out of cities like Seattle, meaning the fares end up disproportionately affecting them, according to the Seattle Times, NPR and other sources.

According to the county documents, the average adult fare on low-income routes is $0.02 higher than non-low-income routes and the average adult fare for minority routes is $0.05 higher than others.

In addition to the fare standardization, county staff also recommended reducing adult ORCA card fees from $5 to $3, eliminating the $3 fee for the Regional Reduced Fare Permit and increasing the Human Service Ticket Program subsidy by 11 percent, or $400,000.

While off-peak riders would see a $0.25 increase in Metro tickets, the county said roughly 23 percent of all riders make less than $35,000 per year and less than 10 percent of off-peak only riders pay cash or non-subsidized ORCA fares.

These recommendations were passed on to the Regional Transit Committee.

Other proposed changes to actual route service were passed on to the Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee.

Route 930, which serves Kirkland and Redmond, would operate 30 minutes longer in the morning, until 9:30 a.m., and starting earlier, at 2:15 p.m., on weekdays.

Many people addressed other changes proposed in the ordinance, but none spoke to the changes on the Kirkland and Redmond route.

Once the committees review the proposed changes to fares and routes, they could be presented again to the county council for approval.

More in News

The Council recognized the AFIS program as it celebrates 30 years of assisting law enforcement throughout King County. Councilmembers, AFIS staff and King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht join AFIS regional manager, Carol Gillespie. Photo courtesy of King County.
King County Council recognizes county’s Automated Fingerprint Information System

For three decades, AFIS has helped law enforcement solve thousands of cases.

‘This might have been a once in a generation opportunity’: Kenmore’s Lakepointe deal grinds to a halt

City officials unsure of what comes next for the more than 50 acre industrial site.

King County Flood Control District approves 2019 Budget on Nov. 5. Photo courtesy of King County Flood Control District.
King County Flood Control District approves $93 million budget

The 2019 District Budget will maintain current flood protection services.

Student veterans receive new resource center at UW Bothell

The Veterans Resource Center at UW Bothell was created after student veterans indicated they wanted a space designated for themselves.

Bothell voters approve public safety ballot measures

As of election night on Nov. 6, both the levy and bond were passing.

Democrats lead in 46th Legislative District

Voters are sending David Frockt, Gerry Pollet and Javier Valdez back to Olympia.

Democrats lead in 1st Legislative District

Derek Stanford and Shelley Kloba were successful in their re-election bids.

DelBene leads in 1st Congressional District in early returns

As of election night, incumbent Suzan DelBene was leading with 69 percent of the vote, to Jeffrey Beeler’s 31 percent.

UW Bothell Student Veterans Services held an Open House and Coffee event during this year’s Welcome Week and remains the main arm in helping veterans. The new resource center adds to this support. Photo courtesy of Marc Studer, UW Bothell
UW Bothell opens new veterans resource center on campus

The new Veteran Resource Center is designed to connect veterans and build relationships.

In Kenmore, the SMP applies to Lake Washington, Sammamish River, and Swamp Creek and associated wetlands. Bothell’s SMP, which was last updated in 2013, also governs development next to the Sammamish River (pictured) and Swamp Creek, along with North Creek. Photo courtesy of Mark Hussein
Bothell, Kenmore look to protect shorelines

Shoreline master programs protect and restore valuable aquatic resources for future generations.

Ashe joins Bothell as new economic development manager

She will work cooperatively with both long-time and future business owners in the city.

Said Farzad reportedly called in numerous bomb threats to state agency offices in Olympia. No bombs have been found, but the state agencies are increasing police presence and bomb-sniffing dogs. Reporter File Photo
Suspended psychiatrist suspected of making bomb threats

The suspect was previously convicted of telephone harassment of a Bothell insurance company and has reportedly called in numerous threats from various countries. No bombs have been found.