Home > Transit > Comment to Sound Transit on ending of the Ride Free Area

Comment to Sound Transit on ending of the Ride Free Area

One of the most frustrating issues I see, both as a driver of Sound Transit routes and as a passenger, are the delays created by accepting cash payment on the bus. Even the most thoughtful and organized passengers can cause delays by inserting multiple $1 bills or small coins, into the fare box.  To see exactly what I am describing, watch a 550 unload at any of the busier stops in Bellevue. The delays can be especially noticeable on a busy weekend when there are more passengers paying with cash.

I urge Sound Transit to study and implement ways to further reduce cash payment including:

. Have the next fare increase be for cash payment only. ORCA users will use current fare structure

. Offer a $.25 discount for ORCA payment

. Provide more outreach to non-English speaking customers about ORCA, how to get one, and how to use it

. Adopt Metro’s RapidRide off-bus payment system, either for the entire route or for selected high-volume areas.

. Provide change machines that dispense quarters and $1 coins at high volume locations. These would allow passengers who need change to get it easily and dollar coins coupled with quarters are almost as fast to use for payment as ORCA passes are.

.  Partner with Coinstar to load change onto and/or distribute ORCA cards.

With the discontinuation of the Ride Free Area coming, it is even more urgent for Sound Transit to look at ways to reduce or speed cash payment. Please consider these ideas to keep buses moving and leverage the limited transit funding that we have.


Thank you,

The VeloBusDriver

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  1. Anonymous rider
    May 24, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Another one I would suggest:

    * Publicly promise to remove all association between individual ORCA cards and previous transit trips from the ORCA databases, now and forever. I readily acknowledge that ORCA is more convenient and faster for everyone involved, but I do not approve of the practice of indefinitely retaining details about where and when I used the transit system. That’s just creepy. I prefer to travel without a paper trail, thanks.

    • May 24, 2012 at 1:10 pm

      There is no requirement that you register your ORCA card. You gain more privacy at the risk of losing funds on the card if you lose it.

  2. MWS
    May 24, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    I am not comfortable with the idea of charging cash users extra to ride the bus. That would place an undue hardship on the poorest transit users. The $5 activation fee on the card is cost prohibitive to the most vulnerable members of our community, and you have to have access to a bank account and the Internet to use the ORCA system effectively. I agree that cash usage slows the system down and the problem needs to be addressed, but punishing riders who are the most likely to be in the midst of a financial crisis already does not sound like a reasonable solution to me.

    • May 25, 2012 at 10:46 am

      Instead of advocating for preserving the inefficient status quo, I would invite you to brainstorm solutions that would decrease cash payment, or speed it up, while mitigating the impact to the poor. The poor already have an incentive to adopt ORCA cards if they transfer between Sound Transit and Metro. That $5 fee will pay for itself in one round trip of transfers. The question you should be asking is how to expand adoption of ORCA and/or make it easier to add value to ORCA cards.

      I’ve suggested more outreach to non-English speaking communities – Spanish and Russian instructions for Rapid Ride B would be a big help. As for the $5 ORCA fee, there is a trial program that allows customers to get a free ORCA card if they load it with a monthly pass or a $5 e-Purse. While currently limited to Saar’s Marketplace, I could see this program expanding and being very useful.

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