UPDATE: Good news – Metro has been working since our last post on a good short-term approach that will help both human service agencies and their clients cover transportation needs – and we think we’ve worked it out. In recent weeks, we’ve been asking human service agencies to provide Sound Transit passes and Metro tickets to clients as a way of ensuring they get where they need to go. By mid-June, we will begin distributing a “combo ticket” that will enable our clients to more easily connect between Metro buses and Link light rail. The product will consist of a ST Link day pass and two Metro 1-zone peak tickets all in one. Meanwhile, Metro and ST continue to work toward a longer-term solution using the ORCA system.
ORIGINAL POST: With Link now carrying riders to Capitol Hill and the University of Washington, the ORCA card is the most efficient and cost-effective way to transfer from a Metro bus to light rail. But for those experiencing homelessness or have little to no income, who receive free bus tickets or Link passes from human service agencies, the connection is not so easy because the tickets and passes are not accepted between systems.
This year, Metro is providing more than $3 million worth of reduced fare tickets to human service agencies.These tickets are accepted on both Metro and ST Express buses. We offer these tickets at an 80 percent discount, with human service agencies paying the remaining 20 percent.
Sound Transit provides an unlimited number of all-day passes worth $6.50 that are sold to these same human services agencies for $1.00 each, an 85 percent discount.
Integrating these two programs will require solving a number of technical issues and will take some time. We don’t have all the answers yet, but Metro and Sound Transit are committed to creating a solution.
To meet the immediate need, we’ve asked rider advocates to work with us on ideas for a short-term fix that can make it easier to transfer between bus and rail with a human-service ticket or pass.
Our ORCA LIFT reduced-fare program has proven itself as a national model. Fully integrating related programs offered by two agencies is another way we’re working to provide as seamless a ride as possible – for all our customers.