Management & Operations

Sound Transit to reintroduce fares at a reduced rate

Posted on May 19, 2020

The Recovery Fares come as the region prepares for the next phases of recovery and the expected gradual return of riders. Sound Transit

Seattle’s Sound Transit will begin offering temporarily reduced Recovery Fares in response to the economic impact of COVID-19 as the agency re-introduces fares on Link light rail and Sounder, beginning June 1. Service on Link will also increase at the same time, with trains running every 20 minutes during the day until after the p.m. peak. Link will continue to run every 30 minutes during evenings and on weekends.

The Recovery Fares come as the region prepares for the next phases of recovery and the expected gradual return of riders. The fare of $1 on Link and $2 on Sounder will be available from ticket vending machines through June 30. During this period, Sound Transit will redouble its promotion of ORCA Lift, a reduced-fare program that gives income-qualified riders discounts of up to 66% on Sound Transit and other regional agencies’ services. Passengers can now apply for ORCA Lift online or over the phone without having to visit a processing site.

In addition to ticket vending machines, Recovery Fare tickets will be available on a contact-free basis through the Transit GO Ticket app. ORCA cards will continue to be charged full fare and can be used for transfers, while Recovery Fare paper tickets and Transit GO tickets cannot be used for transfers.

All transit staff will continue to wear face masks, and all Sound Transit passengers will be directed to wear face coverings consistent with expanded public health directives. Under current health directives, customers are being reminded to limit travel to essential trips. Riders are also being urged to follow social distancing and other critical health guidelines to protect the community. Sound Transit will continue expanded disinfecting of transit vehicles and facilities, with emphasis on ticket vending machines and other high-touch areas including handrails.

Beyond providing money to support transit operations, the resumption of fares will also allow Sound Transit to increase safety and security for essential riders. The agency saw a dramatic increase in unsanitary conditions, rider complaints, and incidents of vandalism after fares were suspended in March. The issues have been associated in part with riders taking repetitive trips without apparent destinations.

For now ST Express buses will continue to remain fare-free on a temporary basis to enable rear-door boarding to protect bus operators. By contrast, rail operators are protected in their own compartments. Even so, seats outside those enclosed compartments will continue to be cordoned off as an extra safety measure.

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