On Thursday, October 1, Metro will resume collecting fares for all transit services: buses, Access paratransit, Seattle Streetcar (First Hill and South Lake Union), Vanpool, Via to Transit and other flexible services, and water taxi (Vashon Island and West Seattle). Fare collection is already taking place on Sound Transit Express bus and Sound Transit light rail.
In anticipation of growing ridership, Metro has implemented numerous health innovations so fares can be safely collected with minimal contact between operators and passengers. Metro is installing transparent safety partitions on buses, Access paratransit, Community Ride, Community Van, DART, and Via to Transit. Water taxi’s fare collection carts have been similarly modified to include a transparent shield.
Metro is encouraging riders to use a contactless payment option—such as an ORCA card—to speed up the boarding process, and further protect both themselves and the operator. Here’s how to get started:
- Visit the “Where to buy” page to learn how to acquire an ORCA card online or in-person. Metro’s Pass Sales Office recently reopened to assist customers in getting ORCA cards and reloading their E-purses.
- You can also acquire Transit GO Tickets through your mobile device.
- For those who qualify, ORCA LIFT is available to help reduce the cost of riding Metro.
- Youth and seniors are also eligible for reduced fares.
Metro will suspend fare enforcement through the end of 2020. Fare enforcement officers will continue to provide a broad range of customer services, including answering questions related to using transit and navigating new safety innovations. Metro is working with King County, the King County Sheriff’s Office, cities, and community stakeholders on alternatives to fare enforcement in the future.
Metro suspended fares on March 21 to protect passengers and operators from the potential spread of COVID-19. Passengers have been boarding and exiting through the rear doors, reserving front-door access for customers using mobility devices or who require use of the boarding ramp.
At current ridership levels, which are about 40 percent compared to last year, the suspension of fare collection is costing Metro an estimated $5.5 million per month in revenue. Though ridership dropped as many riders heeded guidance from elected leaders and public health officials to stay home, many riders have continued to rely on Metro to access groceries, jobs, medical care, and other critical needs. As King County gradually reopens, use of transit will expand beyond essential trips and the need for Metro service, and the funding to support it, will increase.
Metro continues to encourage passengers to support the health of other passengers and our frontline essential workers – the operators and crews, supervisors, and maintenance staff—by:
- Wearing a mask
- Staying home when sick
- Maintaining physical distance
- Avoiding closed areas
- Signing up for Transit Alerts
- Paying with your ORCA card
Visit the Healthier Metro page for the latest information on how Metro is protecting passengers and operators, and how riders can help protect themselves and others when riding transit.