Courtesy of Ned Ahrens, King County

Metro’s current fares are comparable to other major cities. The current off-peak, one zone fare for Metro is $2.25. MTA, which serves New York City, charges the same fare. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which serves Washington DC, charges $1.50.

Metro has raised fares 80% in the last four years and is working diligently on reducing fare evasion. Metro’s base fare would have to be raised an additional $1.50 in order to make up the current revenue shortfall. If fares went up this much, Metro would lose riders–the bus would no longer be an affordable alternative to getting in a car and driving. And, a $3.75 fare could be a burden or cost-prohibitive to people with low incomes–many of whom depend on transit..

Analysis is also underway as to the cost implications of the “free ride” zone through downtown Seattle, including whether the approximately $400,000 the City of Seattle pays Metro each year for its operation sufficiently offsets lost fare revenues. It is unclear at this time how changes to the free ride area would impact cost or revenues.