Sound Transit Board approves regional fare integration agreement, establishes fare policy
Beginning in September, transit riders who use passes will find them good toward fares on transit services throughout Pierce, King and Snohomish counties regardless of which transit service they use under a fare integration agreement approved by the Sound Transit Board. The agreement has already been approved by the boards of Pierce Transit, Community Transit and Everett Transit, and is pending before the Metro King County Council. It represents a major step by the region's five transit agencies toward coordinating their services to create a seamless regional transit network for the consumer.
Approval of the agreement means that the public transit agencies will begin issuing transit passes in September that will be honored throughout the region, coinciding with Sound Transit's inauguration of the phase in of eight new Regional Express bus routes. The region's five transit agencies will honor the face value shown on the pass. If the required fare exceeds the face value of the pass, the passholder will only need to pay the difference.
"This is good news for both transit riders and for employers who offer transit passes to their employees," according to Tacoma City Councilmember Paul Miller, chair of the Sound Transit board. "It will make it easier for transit riders to get where they're going anywhere in the region, and it will greatly simplify the process for employers of issuing and paying for transit passes for their employees."
The agreement has already been approved by the boards of Pierce Transit, Community Transit and Everett Transit, and is scheduled for action by the King Co. Council next month. The fare integration agreement is a major step towards creating a "seamless" transit system among all the region's transit agencies. The agencies are also working on coordination of schedules and routes to make transit connections easier and more reliable.
The Sound Transit Board also approved a fare policy for its Regional Express bus service and for Sounder commuter rail service. Initial rush-hour Sounder service is scheduled to begin between Tacoma and Seattle on existing railroad tracks by the end of this year.
The policy establishes five fare zones within the three-county region. For Regional Express bus service, fares will be $1.25 for a one-zone trip, $2.00 for two zones and $2.50 for a three-zone trip. Fares for Sounder commuter rail service will be $2.00 for travel within one zone, $3.00 for two zones and $4.00 for travel across three zones.
The fare policy establishes a 50 percent discount for senior and disabled riders, rounded down to the next lower quarter, and a 50-cent discount on fares for young people aged 5 to 18. One exception to the new Regional Express fares will be on the current Metro route 226 from Bellevue to Seattle. The route will be fully financed by Sound Transit beginning in September, but since the service will remain essentially the same for the near future, fares will remain the same as they are today. As significant improvements in the route's service, speed and reliability are made fares will be adjusted to the Sound Transit fare schedule.
In September Sound Transit will begin phasing in eight of its seventeen new Regional Express routes. The routes on which service will be inaugurated are:
- Everett/Lynnwood/Seattle (Route B)
- South Everett/Bellevue (Route C)
- Lynnwood/Bellevue (Route D)
- Bellevue/Seattle (Route G1, replacing current Metro 226)
- Federal Way/Bellevue (Route J)
- SeaTac/West Seattle/Seattle (Route M)
- Lakewood/Tacoma/SeaTac (Route N)
- Tacoma/Seattle Express (Route O)/Lakewood/Seattle Express (Route P)
Sound Transit's Sounder commuter rail service is scheduled to begin by the end of this year. Sound Transit is also building 1.6-mile Tacoma Link light rail system and the Central Link light rail system which will connect SeaTac, Tukwila and Seattle.
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Sound Transit plans, builds and operates regional transit systems and services to improve mobility for Central Puget Sound.