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King County Metro considers simplifying bus fares

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by: Graham Johnson, KIRO 7 News 

SEATTLE – Acknowledging that Seattle’s bus fare system is among the country’s most complex, King County Metro is considering a simplification.

The transit agency is surveying passengers, the first step toward possibly changing how much people pay.

Fares now vary based on time of day and distance traveled.

An adult one-zone fare at peak hours is $2.75.

Bus fares are also a bit different from what people pay for other modes of transit, such as Sound Transit’s Link light rail or the Seattle Streetcar.

“We’re hearing from our customers that our fares are really complex,” said Christina O’Claire, King County Metro’s manager of strategy and performance. “They’re having a hard time understanding what fare to purchase.”

Simplifying bus fares might include switching to a flat fare, with passengers paying a bit more for long-distance express buses.

There are no actual proposals yet.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 3,380 people had taken Metro’s online survey.

We want input, all options are on the table,” including no changes at all-

,O’Claire said,

She added that the goal is not to raise fares, but to help people make more seamless connections with other modes of transit, and to prepare for the next generation of the ORCA integrated fare system, which is expected in 2021.

Commutes might also be faster because passengers paying cash wouldn’t have to take time to talk with the driver about how much to pay.

Metro plans additional surveys and meetings this spring, with the possibility of sending a fare-change proposal to the Metropolitan King County Council for approval in June.

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