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VeloBusDriver: What Metro Needs to Do Before Ditching the Ride-Free Area

By Erica C. Barnett February 7, 2011

VeloBusDriver---the bike-riding, bus-driving blogger---has a thoughtful "to-do" list for Metro to accomplish before it eliminates the downtown Seattle ride-free area. (The ride-free zone is controversial because it contributes to fare evasion---people get on without paying, then refuse to pay at their destination.)

Ideas I love:
Ubiquitous ORCA availability at drug stores, grocery stores, Coinstar vending machines, train stations, airport, hotels, etc.

Tourist-friendly ORCA cards with day and multi-day passes

Registered lost cards of ALL kinds, not just Adult, should be reissued by a simple process on orcacard.com.

Proof of Payment required on ALL transit at ALL times. [YES. And for god's sake, improve the site and ORCA customer service in general.]

And a few I don't:
Provide discounts for loading large dollar amounts onto ORCA cards to further incentivize ORCA use

A flat $3 cash fare – Cash payment, even by those who are well-prepared, significantly slows service – Make them pay for the privilege to encourage ORCA usage

Eliminate paper transfers – Replace with a rotating color/letter Proof of Payment (POP) voucher with coach number and day purchased punched

Youth and Reduced fares would ONLY be available to passengers with a Youth ORCA card. (You’d be surprised at the number of “youth” I see on my bus with heavy facial hair)

All four of those ideas would discourage riding transit---and the first two have the potential to be downright discriminatory against lower-income people. Overall, though, it's a thought-provoking list of ideas that Metro should seriously consider.
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