Paying fares on RapidRide

One of the things that will make RapidRide faster than regular bus service is the fare payment system.

RapidRide buses have three doors—at the front, middle, and back—to speed up getting on and off the bus.

photo: customer puts cash in farebox and receives transfer

If you pay with cash on RapidRide, you'll get a transfer. Keep it as proof of payment.

If you pay with cash or fare tickets, you’ll still have to board through the front door and pay. At bus stops without ORCA readers, you’ll have to board through the front door to use an ORCA card as well.

Hand holding fare card in front of machine

At RapidRide stations, customers can pre-pay using ORCA fare cards and then board through any door.

But during the day (6 a.m. to 7 p.m.), you can hop on the bus through any door if you have a valid transfer from another bus or have already paid with an ORCA card at a RapidRide station card reader.

Fare inspectors will board RapidRide buses from time to time and check to make sure that all passengers have proof of payment.
If you pay with cash or tickets, you’ll get a transfer as proof of payment. If you have a valid transfer from another bus, that’s your proof of payment.

If you pay with an ORCA card, either on the bus or at a RapidRide station, the fare inspectors will check your ORCA card with a portable reader to verify the payment.

Metro has launched some new web pages with customer-oriented information on how to use RapidRide ( If you’re looking for the former site, with maps for each of the six RapidRide lines, follow the “Learn more” link or go to

14 thoughts on “Paying fares on RapidRide

  1. Took a look at the bus interior pictured.
    It looks like the same terrible bus seats in the current Metro buses. They are terrible because the seat design/material encourage slipping and sliding to the point where one has to ride with a white knuckled grip to keep from sliding from the seat onto to the floor.

  2. This is the most confusing fare payment system ever. I thought this new service was supposed to be fast and simple. For RapidRide all fare payments should be off-board.

  3. It can be hard to see in online photos, but in fact RapidRide upholstery will be different. It’s still vinyl, for easy cleaning, but with a textured surface similar to woven cloth (see photo). This, combined with the angle of the seats, should keep passengers from sliding around when the bus is underway.

  4. Please clarify, what’s the impact on ORCA card holders after 7pm? Is it front-door-boarding only? Will the station ORCA readers be turned off at 7pm?

  5. Even if signal priority can deliver the desired result: keeping the bus moving, and with wider stop spacing; I still don’t think RapidRide will get riders from A to B much faster than the existing routes. On-board fare payment, external bike racks, and accessibility provisions will bring us back to plain ol’ bus performance – like the shiny red topcoat though 😉

  6. It shouldn’t take four paragraphs to explain fare payment for RapidRide. The system should have been designed for 100% off-board fare payment, so the instruction would be simple and clear: “Pay your fare before you board RapidRide.”

  7. Metro expects the combination of many features–stop spacing, three doors for exits and entrances during the day, off-board fare payment during the day, signal priority, and transit priority lanes–to make RapidRide trips up to 20 percent faster than current service.

    Also, Metro is doubling the amount of bus service on the A Line corridor over what is currently provided with Route 174, so that shiny red bus will show up twice as often!

  8. The station ORCA readers will not be turned off at night, but they will have signs indicating that they are for use between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. At other times, all passengers will have to board through the front door of the bus and pay there. If you’re using an ORCA card, you’ll need to tap your card there. If you’ve already tapped your card at the station reader, it will show up as a valid transfer when you board the bus, as long as you board within two hours of having paid.

    The fare collection system on the A Line will serve as a pilot test, and Metro expects to make adjustments as we get experience. While we aren’t providing all-door boarding at all locations and times of day, we are focusing the all-door boarding at the locations and times with the most riders and the most potential benefit.

  9. Hopefully the adjustments will be toward simplifying the fare payment for RapidRide.

  10. If you tap your Orca card for the A line bus but plan on connecting with light rail, do you tap off when getting off the bus and then tap again when getting on light rail and then tap again when getting off light rail?

  11. All buses, including RapidRide, require one tap of the ORCA card – either at the RapidRide station or on the bus. On the A Line, you pay when you board. When you ride Link, you do need to tap your card when you get on and then again when you get off. That’s because Link fares are distance based.

    If you have already paid by tapping your card on a bus or at a RapidRide station, and you board Link within the valid transfer period, the reader will automatically credit you with a transfer when you tap your card. When you tap your card at the end of your Link trip, you will only be charged the difference if your Link trip cost more than you already paid.

    To transfer from Link to RapidRide, you should tap your card as you leave Link and then tap it again on the RapidRide reader (either at the station or on the bus) to validate the fare you already paid for use on RapidRide. You will not be charged a second fare as long as you are within the valid transfer period.

  12. i do not understand this would it make the same stops as the 358 bus on aurora ave or only certain stops like the swift bus

  13. Terri, the RapidRide E Line will replace Route 358 in 2013. Metro is planning a public process next spring (2011) to finalize the stops and the exact alignment for the E Line. In general for RapidRide, we plan to have stations (bus stops with all amenities) about every mile, with other stops about every half-mile. RapidRide will have more stops than Swift because Metro will not be operating an underlying local service as Community Transit is doing.

    You can get details about the E Line, including a map with the proposed stop locations, on Metro’s website.

  14. It’s great to see another BRT coming together! Although I am concerned about how long it’s going to take at each station or stop. Having people pay BEFORE you enter the bus is a big deal. I predict RR won’t be any faster than a regular local route with the current pay options. Hopefully KCM figures out the payment issues before they connect the RR line to Aurora Village Transit Center.

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