METRO & WATER TAXI: No fare collection – in other words, free – starting Saturday; also, rear-door bus boarding

1:37 PM: In addition to Metro schedule changes starting Saturday, another big change announced, starting tomorrow, for buses and the Water Taxi. Here’s the announcement:

Effective with the start of service Saturday, March 21, riders will not be required to pay fare when riding King County Metro services, including buses, water taxi and Access paratransit, until further notice.

Riders also will be directed to board and exit at the rear doors of buses, reserving front-door access for customers using mobility devices or who require use of the boarding ramp.

“As this crisis evolves, we are constantly reviewing all of our practices and policies to provide the best service while keeping people safe,” said Executive Constantine. “Changing how riders board and exit our bus fleet and also suspending all fares is part of that effort. It is essential to keep this community on the move, and I thank all the operators, mechanics, support staff, and riders who are helping us get through this, together.”

These moves acknowledge the direction of public health to take steps necessary to limit the spread of COVID-19 and we continue to call on riders to do all they can by avoiding traveling when sick, covering coughs and sneezes.

Metro is relaying these planned changes to our partners at Sound Transit and the City of Seattle as they consider changes to ST Express bus service, Link light rail and Streetcar.

Metro is communicating this upcoming change with transit operators today and working to develop and install signage directing customers to board and exit at the rear doors unless and that fare payment is not required starting March 21.

We’re on the media call about the schedule change right now – any updates on that (the actual schedules are due out tomorrow), we’ll add.

2:38 PM: Some notes from the call- we asked why the 125 was deemed disposable – Metro managers said that it’s certainly not disposable but it’s a route that connects to no others and some of it is replicated by the 120 – so they are going to watch the 120 closely. They don’t expect to be making day to day changes but will assess weekly to see about re-evaluation. They are not planning any layoffs, though this will reduce revenue (farebox and sales tax total are down about $6 million a week). They say the schedule cuts will reduce the need for drivers and coaches by about 25 percent – that means they will be OK even if more are out sick. So far, no COVID-19 cases at Metro, they said.

ADDED 6:22 PM: Sound Transit is going fare-free too.

8 Replies to "METRO & WATER TAXI: No fare collection - in other words, free - starting Saturday; also, rear-door bus boarding"

  • C. Rose March 20, 2020 (1:51 pm)

    This is great news! Hopefully the buses can maintain an accurate schedule for those of us still having to make it out to work. Some of the buses have been running 8-10 min early and or right on top of each other. 

  • Pilsner March 20, 2020 (2:34 pm)

    I thought the no fare thing was already like that.

    • WSB March 20, 2020 (2:48 pm)

      No, this is a new decision today, taking effect tomorrow.

  • C. Rose March 20, 2020 (2:54 pm)

    It’s in effect now on the 21, driver just had us all board in the back. 

  • AMD March 20, 2020 (3:15 pm)

    For what it’s worth, we can probably live without the 125 for now.  I say that as someone who used to ride it all the time and was ECSTATIC about the re-routing after Columbia Way opened to buses because it just became useful again to those of us who work toward the north end of downtown.  The last week I took the bus before I got my virus layoff there were a total of 6 people on the bus during rush hour.  No stops between Andover (which would also be served by the 120) and Holden (one person off there, that stop is 6 blocks from the 131 and 4 blocks from the 120), then three people off at 16th & Henderson (that stop is two blocks from the 120 in one direction and four blocks from the 120 in another).  With South Seattle not having classes and most downtown workers working from home (or made redundant) I imagine their ridership is WAY down to nonexistent.  I do look forward to the route coming back when buses go back to normal, though (hopefully I’ll have a job to go to then, lol).

  • YES2WS March 20, 2020 (4:34 pm)

    Now, if the city could just lay off the parking citations where it’s obvious  street parking is not an issue at this time. There are tons of spaces available yet everyday another vehicle is targeted. The first one I noticed belonged to a middle-aged, restaurant employee returning from her shift. I felt so bad for her. There was hardly a parked car in sight yet there hers sat with a ticket. How ironic.. as I type this up, the ticketing vehicle passes by again. Enough already. A little common sense from the city, please. Here several of us are trying to figure out how to better support our neighborhood restaurants and the city’s  holding out its hand to take their money away.  :-(

  • Randy March 21, 2020 (10:43 am)

    Good news. I take the bus to work. I still have in this life. 

    Hebrews 11:1

    11 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for<span class="crossreference" data-link="(A)” data-cr=”#cen-NIV-30174A” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; vertical-align: top; top: 0px;”> and assurance about what we do not see.

  • Pam f March 21, 2020 (2:17 pm)

    Some drivers not letting disabled passengers use the front door today Saturday. My husband going to work on 2 buses not allowed to board through front doors, even though he is disabled. Not good Metro. 

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