How much should light rail fares be?

Sound Transit wants feedback from you on proposed fares for the Link light rail line, which will open in July this year. The current proposal is for a distance-based fare, starting with a base fee and then increasing the fare the further you go.

An unofficial version of the proposed fare charts can be seen in this post at the Seattle Transit Blog. The two pricing plans are as follows: one plan keeps the current Ride Free Area downtown for the trains (so you could ride the train from Westlake to the International District for free) with a $2 base fare and a 5 cent charge per mile, rounded to the nearest quarter. The maximum fare in this plan for a ride from downtown to the airport would be $2.75. The other plan does not have a Ride Free Area for the trains, but starts with a $1.75 base fare, and a 5 cent charge per mile (rounded as in the other plan). The maximum fare in this plan would be $2.50.

For trips from Beacon Hill, we are looking at $2.25 from the Hill to Westlake and $2.50 to the airport under the first (Free Ride Zone) plan, or $2.00 from the Hill to Westlake and $2.25 to the airport under the second (no Free Ride Zone) plan.

Sound Transit will be presenting these plans and listening to your feedback at a series of public meetings:

If these dates and locations sound familiar, it’s because these are also the dates and locations of the SDOT meetings we posted about on December 22, to discuss parking changes in the light rail station areas. Looks like there will be a lot to discuss at those meetings.

Can’t make the meetings? You can also express your opinion on the light rail fares by emailing, phoning Project Manager Sarah Lovell at 206-398-5405, or writing to:

Sarah Lovell
Sound Transit Office of Policy and Planning
410 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98104

3 thoughts on “How much should light rail fares be?”

  1. does anyone know if transfers from light rail will be valid on buses? Or if transfers from buses will be valid on light rail? They seem to be hoping that many people will ride the bus to the light rail station, then take the train, but they don’t seem to be integrating the systems in any way. Would be a shame to have to pay two fares for a single trip.

  2. My understanding is that the only way to transfer will be to use the upcoming ORCA card. This Sound Transit document says: “No transfer value is carried forward between partner agency services if payment is made by single-agency pass or ticket (smart card or other media), token or cash. This will be an incentive for riders, particularly those accessing Link via feeder bus service, to adopt use of the ORCA smart card as regional fare media.”

    The ORCA card will theoretically cover all the regional transit agencies. It’s supposed to roll out sometime this spring, I think.

    London has a similar card, the Oyster, but in that case they are using a fairly big fare discount to encourage people to switch to Oyster. (Or you could call it a fairly big surcharge for non-Oyster users.) It doesn’t look like they are doing that here with the ORCA, but maybe I just haven’t read about it yet if they are.

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