Sound Transit is planning a July 1 resumption of fares on ST Express bus routes that have returned to front-door boarding with the installation of health barriers and other protections for operator safety. A new system-wide flat fare will align with other regional agencies, irrespective of trip distances.
“Fares are important for funding our operations,” said Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff. “The resumption of fares on ST Express, along with the increase in service, is a sign that our region is starting to move to the next phase of recovery.”
While Sound Transit expects buses across the ST network will have protections installed by July 1 or soon thereafter, routes that have not returned to front-door boarding due to ongoing installation work will continue to be fare-free. A list of routes where fares will be implemented will be posted on the Sound Transit website prior to July 1. Fares resumed on Link light rail and Sounder trains on June 1.
Sound Transit will implement a flat adult fare of $3.25 on all ST Express bus routes when fare collection resumes. The new fare structure eliminates the previous two-zone fare system in favor of one simple fare throughout the ST Express service area. Previously, adult ST Express fares for one-zone trips has been $2.75 and for two-zone trips has been $3.75.The Sound Transit Board approved the move to the adult flat fare in April 2018, with an implementation date of July 2020. Flat fares for ORCA Lift, youth and senior/disabled riders were implemented in July 2018.
Regional elected officials took action to simplify fares in preparation for the Next Generation ORCA system, and other regional transit agencies had already adopted a flat fare. Consistent with the other transit agencies, prior to the board decision, Sound Transit conducted a fare change process that included public outreach and Title VI analysis. More information about the flat fare is available at www.soundtransit.org/ride-with-us/changes-affect-my-ride/st-express-flat-fares
Sound Transit is encouraging income-qualified passengers to apply for ORCA Lift, a reduced-fare program that offers discounts of up to 66% on Sound Transit and other regional agencies’ services. At this time, passengers can now qualify apply for ORCA Lift online or over the phone without having to visit a processing site.
Effective June 22, full service will be restored on Saturdays to ST Express route 550. Otherwise, the current service levels on ST Express bus routes will remain in effect. Sound Transit is not anticipating any additional service changes to ST Express bus service until the fall. The agency will closely evaluate service levels for fall and thereafter in connection with rider demand and funding reductions caused by the economic impact of COVID-19.
Riders will find more information on the specific trips at www.soundtransit.org/ride-with-us/changes-affect-my-ride/reduced-service and via rider alerts, which they can sign up to receive electronically.
All Sound Transit passengers are directed to wear face coverings consistent with expanded public health directives. Under current health directives customers are reminded to limit travel to essential trips. Riders should also follow social distancing and other critical health guidelines to protect the community.
Riders should sign up for rider alerts to ensure that they receive up-to-date information about service changes, or visit www.soundtransit.org. The language line 1-800-823-9230 is available to provide translation assistance for limited English proficiency persons.