Breakthrough agreement reached for creating a unified regional transit fare system
A committee of representatives of the governing boards of the Central Puget Sound region's five transit agencies have reached an agreement in principle on establishing an integrated fare system to be used by all transit agencies. The five agencies are Community Transit (Snohomish Co.), Everett Transit, King County Metro, Pierce Transit and Sound Transit. The agreement, which has been under discussion for about a year, calls for implementing a series of regional transit passes that will be recognized and accepted by all five agencies throughout the region. The regional pass system will be a major step toward implementing a "smart card" pass system in the future.
The agreement establishes a general structure for a common regional fare system. The transit agencies will continue working together to iron out the details by this fall and the final agreement will require approval by the various transit agency governing boards. The plan calls for implementing regional transit passes in late 1999, coinciding with the implementation of Sound Transit's first Regional Express bus routes and the Tacoma/Seattle leg of its Sounder commuter rail service. The passes will be based on a monetary face value. For transit riders it simply means they can buy a pass to a given
destination in the region that can be used on any of the bus or rail transit systems serving the region. If a traveler wishes to use a transit service whose fare is greater than the face value of the pass, they would simply pay the difference. For example if a rider has purchased a pass with a face value of one dollar and needs to take a longer trip for which the fare is two dollars, they will only need to show the pass and pay the additional dollar.
Within the next three years the agencies plan to make available "smart card" transit passes - passes containing an embedded microchip that will "debit" the amount of a transit fare from the face value of the pass, similar to the way the increasingly popular telephone calling cards work today.
The integration of fare structures among transit agencies and the establishment of a regional pass system are major steps toward the creation of a region-wide system of seamless transit services and connections that was part of the commitment made in the voter-approved regional transit plan, Sound Move. The fare integration agreement is a major milestone that demonstrates that the region's transit agencies are working together to achieve a seamless regional system of fares and services for the benefit of current and future transit riders.
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Sound Transit plans, builds and operates regional transit systems and services to improve mobility for Central Puget Sound.