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Metro Survey: Riders Want to Simplify Payments; Are Split on Ride Free Zone

By Erica C. Barnett August 10, 2009



[caption id="attachment_11389" align="alignleft" width="394" caption="The Ride Free Zone"]The Ride Free Zone [/caption]

As King County tries to renegotiate the downtown Ride Free Zone with the city (at a cost to the city between $6 and $7 million), an unscientific survey of Metro riders revealed that about half of respondents want to keep the ride free area, and about half want to get rid of it. (Since the city seems unlikely to agree to pay more for the ride free zone, the ultimate outcome, regardless of public opinion, could be that Metro simply eliminates free rides downtown).

As of midmorning Saturday, according to the survey:

• 63% of respondents would prefer to standardize Metro's confusing boarding and payment process. (Pay as you board when traveling toward downtown; pay as you leave when traveling away; free rides downtown from 6am and 7pm, etc., etc.)

• 47% of respondents want to eliminate the Ride Free Area, 46% want to keep it and  7% say they don't care.

• 63% feel that both buses and trains operating in the Downtown Transit Tunnel should have the same fare payment policy. (Currently, bus riders board for free downtown, but Link Light Rail riders have to pay).

• 85% of would like Metro to offer more day pass options, such as all-day passes on weekdays and seven-day passes. and 80% think both buses and trains operating in the tunnel should have the same fare policy.

The survey also asks whether riders should get a discount for using passes instead of cash; whether the Ride Free Zone benefits most passengers; and whether Metro drivers should open the back doors after 7pm.

I'm not sure who's behind the survey (the source isn't available on the site, a request left in the comments for information has not been returned, and a Whois search came up with nothing), but it isn't Metro, according to King County Transportation Department spokeswoman Rochelle Ogershock.

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