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aware that lack of known locations, and lack of public awareness of locations, to purchase ORCA, is a major barrier to increasing ORCA use. Metro is making great efforts to change that this year. But there remain three other structural barriers to high ORCA usage: - competition with paper transfers that are, in many cases, more valuable than an ORCA transfers; - A lack of per-ride incentive to choose e-purse over cash, even if one has an ORCA; - And the cost of getting an ORCA card. Many human service agencies are resistant to giving up paper transfers or allowing an e-purse discount, simply because of the cost of getting an ORCA card. Perhaps it is time to cut the Gordion Knot, and eliminate the fee for getting an ORCA card. There are plenty of precedents for not charging a fee for transit SmartCards. Here are a few: - The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Charlie Card is given out freely by employees. - San Francisco’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission waives the cost of a Clipper Card when $5 of fare product is purchased. - The Chicago Transit Authority waives the card fee for first-time purchasers who register their Chicago Card. - Transit for London provides a full refund of the deposit for getting an Oyster Card. Compared to other regions, Metro combines the highest financial entry barrier to use of its smart card with some of the most significant disincentives to using it. Metro is aware of the federal mitigation requirements in order to institute cash fare differential and to get rid of paper transfers. I would suggest that all the mitigation that is really required is the elimination of the fee for getting the ORCA card. That said, I support continued distribution of free rides through human service agencies (preferably on ORCA when feasible) and the proposal for free downtown circulator buses, as well as all the efforts being made to get ORCA more widely distributed. Metro may have a long-term budget plan to pay off the cost of the ORCA contract through card sales. But consider this: For the typical frequent rider who has opted not to use ORCA since it was rolled out, her/his cash fumbling has probably cost the system far in excess of the $2.50 profit Metro hoped to make on the card she/he has not purchased. The fee has become pennywise/pound-foolish. In order to make progress on the transition to more universal ORCA use, but also buy more time for the RFA transition, I would suggest negotiating a timeline with the County Council to take the following steps, in this order: - Eliminate the ORCA card fee immediately, and replace it with a minimum purchase of $5 of loaded fare product. - Create a differential fare structure for all fares between cash and e-purse. (That could include, for example, raising the cash fare on RRFPs to $1 while leaving the e-

Ride Free Area - Public Engagement Report  

King County Metro Transit Implementation plan for Ride Free Area elimination and transition to pay-on-entry