Thank you to everyone who has shared your thoughts with us. It has been an amazing experience to bring people together in southeast Seattle and listen to what they have to say about transit in their community.
Here’s a snapshot of what people told us about using ORCA and paying fares on Metro and Link light rail. Every transit user has a story to share on this topic–what’s yours?
When asked, “How do you pay your fare?” and “Do you use ORCA…why or why not?”, the majority of those we spoke with are paying cash and getting a transfer. As one woman described it, “I pay cash and get my ticket.” There seems to be something trustworthy about paying cash and getting something back, as well as interacting with a driver instead of a machine. People don’t necessarily trust the ORCA technology or understand how it calculates fares, especially with transfers and multiple zones.
People also told us that ORCA cards, as well as Youth and Regional Reduced Fare Permit ORCA passes, should be easier to get and re-load. People are unaware of locations like Bartells or Saar’s Marketplace where they can get and re-load ORCA cards and passes. There’s little or no advertising and the employees aren’t always trained.
When cash-paying riders choose Link, they told us they use a ticket vending machine to buy a ticket. However, these machines offer limited language support, making them largely inaccessible to people who don’t speak English well.
The most common concern we heard about fare payment was that fares have become too expensive for low-income people. People asked for transfers to last longer than two hours, for the annual pass to come back, or for other fare-lowering options. As one woman put it, “My rent went up, then bus fares went up. My income has stayed the same. Now my standard of living has gone down because I can’t afford everything.” Families whose children live within 2.5 miles of school and take public transportation to get there are paying $50 per month that they didn’t pay when the school district provided transportation.
These issues are not unique to southeast Seattle. They come up around the county. How would you address them? Tell us your ideas by commenting on this post.