How to pay
Paying for your ride is easy with an ORCA card. Learn about the fare and pass options that are best for you.

Fare ambassadors

Fare ambassador speaks with a passenger

Fare Ambassadors are Sound Transit staff physically present at Link and Sounder stations and onboard trains. 

Our Fare Ambassadors:

  • Check fares.
  • Document Interactions and issue violations.
  • Answer questions.
  • Teach passengers how to use the system.
  • Help passengers purchase ORCA cards and passes.
  • Help riders find the ORCA fare that is best for them, like an ORCA LIFT card.

Fare Ambassadors systematically review paid passenger fares on Sounder, 1 Line, 2 Line, and T Line trains. In pairs, they start at opposite ends of light rail vehicles and announce their presence before checking for paid fares. On Sounder, they inspect both decks. Have your proof of paid fare ready, and feel free to ask any questions.

Fare Ambassadors will only check for fares on platforms on the 1 Line during the summer of 2024.

Platform inspections

Starting this June, passengers may have their fare payment checked while standing on the platform, waiting for the train to arrive. The team is changing its process to maximize fare-checking efficiency and help more passengers, even during our busiest periods. This shift will enable the team to offer extra support to passengers and ensure a seamless transit experience.

Learn more about platform inspections here.

Fare ambassador frequently asked questions

Passengers can pay to take Link or Sounder by tapping their ORCA card before they board, buying a ticket at a ticket machine, or activating a Transit Go ticket on their phone. Learn more about how to pay your fare.

Passengers without proof of payment will receive two warnings in a 12-month period.

Non-payment interactions within 12 months​New program
1st ​interactionWarning​
2nd ​interactionWarning​
3rd ​interactionViolation
4th​ interactionViolation
5th and beyond​$124 Civil infraction​

On the third and fourth interactions without proof of payment, Fare Ambassadors will issue rider violations. Riders can resolve the violations with Sound Transit through non-monetary options or paying a $50 or $75 fine for the third and fourth violation, respectively.

Five or more instances of riding without proof of payment over a 12-month period will result in a $124 civil infraction. Sound Transit may refer this infraction to the district court.

Passengers who do not have valid fare receipts and identification will be requested to leave ST property.

Sound Transit staff were directed in 2018 to re-envision how fare compliance is conducted. That kicked off an almost three-year process, which included peer research and conversations with community stakeholders that got us to this supportive and educational take on fare compliance. The Sound Transit Board of Directors adopted the current fare policy in April 2022.

Starting June 3, 2024, Sound Transit Fare Ambassadors will begin conducting fare inspections within fare paid zones at Link stations.

At first, these inspections will only occur at 1 Line stations in downtown Seattle as the Fare Ambassador teams refine the process before a larger rollout in September following the opening of the 1 Line extension to Lynnwood. 

The Sound Transit Board approved fare paid zone inspections in 2020 as part of the fare engagement action plan. Checking for proof of payment at stations will be more efficient when trains are too crowded for onboard checks. Fare Ambassadors will also more easily help people without fare obtain it, rather than simply issuing a violation.

This initiative is part of Sound Transit’s holistic approach to helping our passengers access the system and any services they may require.  

Fare Ambassadors will work in teams, checking all passengers waiting on the platform, working inward from each end of the platform to the middle, like the procedure they use when they conduct inspections on board trains.

Ambassadors will suspend inspections when “train arriving now” announcements are made. 

Yes. Fare Ambassadors will continue to check passengers for proof of payment on board Link 1 and 2 Line and Sounder trains. 

Checking for proof of payment in stations will allow Fare Ambassadors to help people who don’t have fares get it. At stations, Fare Ambassadors can help people find where to tap their ORCA card, use a ticket vending machine, or sign up for reduced fare programs, where they wouldn’t have that possibility on board trains.

Sound Transit’s fare compliance policy is unchanged, and people who repeatedly are found to be riding without proof of payment may be issued a warning or violation.  

As on-board vehicles, we designed the process so that Fare Ambassadors inspect every passenger on the platform. During the first phase of the rollout, we will measure the effectiveness of the process to ensure it’s equitable and efficient. The agency will modify it as necessary as the program expands. 

The program’s first phase will focus on stations in downtown Seattle with the highest ridership and where trains are most crowded. We expect to expand fare paid zone inspections to stations across the 1 Line and the 2 Line as more riders begin using the system next year.  

Link is an open system with stations accessible from the street, making turnstiles ineffective. We have looked at the feasibility of installing fare gates in the past, but the Board has not directed that this be studied further.  

This decision is not under consideration. Fare revenue was part of the financial plan approved by voters to pay for transit improvements and transit service. Fare revenues are a crucial part of funding the operations of our regional system that serves all communities, including transit-dependent communities. Without fare revenue, we would need to replace the fare funds with additional revenue from taxes or other sources.

Sound Transit remains steadfastly committed to making fares accessible to everyone, including low-income passengers through ORCA Lift and subsidized annual passes, and to youth 18 and under through the Free Youth Transit Pass.  

The expectation is that with more fares checked, riders will pay more fares. This new process will enable Fare Ambassadors to help people who need fare get it.  

Youth 18 and under ride for free on all Sound Transit services. Fare ambassadors will only ask to confirm the age of a youth. The Free Youth Transit Pass is available and recommended for youth to use.

FYTP is only available to those who qualify for it. Those who use a FYTP without meeting the qualifications will be found in non-compliance with the Sound Transit Fare Policy and taken though the appropriate steps.