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Sound Transit considers simplifying ST Express fares

Zone-based fares are on the chopping block

Courtesy of Sound Transit

Sound Transit is looking to simplify fares on its ST Express buses, which run between urban centers in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties. Currently, fare varies by trip: standard adult fare for riders crossing county lines is $3.75. Riders that stay within a single county pay $2.75.

Under proposed changes, riders will always pay the same fare when boarding the same route. What Sound Transit is considering is either charging a higher fare on multi-county routes than single-county routes, or splitting the difference into one fare somewhere in the middle of the one- and two-zone fare across the board.

Under one option, fares would remain the same—$2.75 or $3.75 depending on the trip—but it would be based by route instead of individual trip length. Buses that go through more than one county would cost $3.75 per ride, regardless of how far a rider goes.

Another alternative simplifies fares even more, but some riders would pay a little more. Under the more streamlined option, standard adult fare would be $3.25 on all routes.

With all proposed changes, reduced fares would be $1.50 across the board for ORCA LIFT and youth passengers and $1 for senior and disabled passengers, regardless of route or trip length. (Currently, two-zone fares apply to all.)

Similar changes are coming to King County Metro fares; come July, two-zone and off-peak fares will be eliminated in favor of one simplified standard fare: $2.75. Sound Transit fare changes are expected to be implemented around the same time.

Riders with a strong opinion either way can provide input to the changes online, via email, by mail, by calling 1-866-940-4387, or in-person at a public meeting February 1 at Union Station.

This article has been updated to clarify one option for fare changes.