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Flat rate fares could be coming to King County Metro

King County Metro bus
Flickr Photo/clappstar (CC BY-NC-ND)

If you ride King County Metro transit, you may soon see fares change. A new proposal would simplify pricing and set a flat rate for all times of day and all destinations.

For decades, riders have paid different rates depending on where they're traveling and whether they’re traveling during the morning and evening commute.

Currently, adult riders traveling within Seattle pay $2.75 during peak hours. Those traveling across city lines into the suburbs pay a peak fare of $3.25. Off-peak rates are $2.50 for all zones.   

But King County executive Dow Constantine wants to simplify Metro's fares.

"No more zones, no more peak, no more off-peak. It will be $2.75 to board no matter the time, the day, the route or the destination," Constantine said.

According to Constantine, 65 percent of Metro riders would see no change in fare or a fare reduction with a $2.75 flat rate.

Those who ride in off-peak hours — like the middle of the day or late at night — would see a 25 cent increase in prices.

Discounted rates for youths, seniors, disabled riders and low income riders would remain the same.

And officials say monthly and employer-sponsored transit passes would likely be unaffected or see a slight decrease in cost.

Shefali Ranganathan, who heads the Transportation Choices Coalition, said a flat rate will benefit county residents who commute across travel zones.

"Our affordability crisis has resulted in people having to travel farther and farther away to get to where they need to go. And there should not be a penalty for that. So we're pleased to see the removal of the two zone peak," she said.

Officials say the new rates would make boarding quicker and simpler.

The proposal now goes to the King County Council. If approved, it would also allocate an extra $400,000 to help subsidize tickets for very low-income and homeless riders.

The new rates could be in effect as early as July 2018. 

Year started with KUOW: 2015