As part of a “simplifying” effort going on since earlier this year, the Sound Transit Board approved a new fare structure for ST Express buses.
The short version: two-zone fares are about to be gone, and riders will pay the same fare no matter their trip length. All changes will be phased in by 2020, although most fare changes will kick in July 1.
While all two-zone trips, or trips that cross a county line, will cost less than they did before—and many trips will be the same—standard adult will be a little higher than the previous one-zone fare. For other fare levels, this means that what was previously the one-zone fare will apply to all trips.
The plan goes along with one alternative proposed by Sound Transit earlier this year. For all trips, standard adult fare will be $3.25, splitting the difference between the previous $2.75 and $3.75 fare, depending on trip length. That change will take effect starting July 1, 2020.
ORCA LIFT fares for low-income riders won’t be going up for anyone; those fares will be $1.50 across the board, reflecting the previous one-zone fare. Same for youth and senior fares, which will be $1.50 and $1, respectively. Those changes start July 1, 2018—so within the next few months.
That breaks down to a reduction in fare for anyone taking a two-zone trip, although fare will be going up 50 cents in one circumstance: a standard, adult fare-payer traveling within county lines.
Other alternatives considered by Sound Transit included charging a flat rate for routes that cross county lines and another for routes that don’t.
King County Metro fare changes are also kicking in this July. That change also does away with zone-based fares, shifting all standard, adult fare to $2.75.