This Sunday, King County Metro Transit will roll out a new fare structure for most bus riders. The new regular adult fare structure will be a flat $2.75 and fully abolish peak-hour fares and the two-zone fare system. Sound Transit will also implement flat fares for some categories of riders, but not regular adult fares.
Metro’s fare changes will affect current riders in different ways:
- Riders who travel at off-peak hours now will pay $0.25 more (about 35% of all boardings);
- Riders who travel across two fare zones at peak hours now will pay $0.50 less; and
- Riders who travel in just one fare zone at peak hours now will see no fare change.
By and large, the fare structure will penalize off-peak riders and many Seattle riders most while primarily subsidizing suburban commuters headed into or out of Seattle. In a way, it’s not a stretch to say that the new structure is a direct tax on Seattle, which is already forking over boat loads of cash to Metro each year for additional transit. Metro is projected to pocket another $2.3 million per year by 2020 just from the fare change. However, the fare change could benefit lower wage earners who commute between the suburbs and Seattle for work but who don’t qualify for cheaper fares under ORCA LIFT, a regional low-income fare program.