Commuters face future issues

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Since the last bus fare increase in 2011, most commuters paid either $1.25 or $2.50, depending on age.

However, according to the press release on the King County transportation website and the numerous flyers posted on various buses and bus stops, “King County Metro Transit riders will pay a bit more to ride the bus beginning March 1. The fare change will apply to adults, youth, seniors and people with disabilities who use regularly scheduled transit services.”
This fare increase will not affect children up to the age of five.

The difference between the new and old fares is 25 cents, with the exception for the access paratransit fare, which increased by 50 cents.

A press release stated that, “Despite the increase, some rides will cost less for those qualifying for new reduced fare,”

The King County Transportation website said, “the fare increases will place Metro on more stable financial footing and will help keep service on the road.”

It continued to explain the new ORCA LIFT reduced fare program:

“Also making its debut March 1 is Metro’s newly created ORCA LIFT reduced fare program, the outcome of an intensive two-year push by King County Executive Dow Constantine and the City Council to make riding the bus more affordable for people struggling to make ends meet.”

In other words, the people who are eligible to receive an ORCA LIFT bus pass would only pay $1.50 per trip, regardless of what time of the day it is and how many zones they have traveled.

According to a transportation survey conducted by BC’s Office of Sustainability, from 2009 to 2012 about 30 percent of the student population primarily used public transportation. By 2013, this number decreased to about 15 percent.

Although King County Metro announced the fare increase months beforehand, some BC students such as Owla

Mohamed, were unaware of the price change. Mohamed said, “I did not realize there was an increase until I heard someone talk about it, then I noticed that when I tap my ORCA card it said $1.50 instead of $1.25.

“With the increase in bus fare, obviously it will cause students to consider the idea of driving to school instead which causes the 21st century idea of maintaining sustainable and green methods of transportation to slightly contradict,” said Mohamed.

On the other hand, the transportation survey suggests that from 2009 to 2012, the number of students who drive decreased by 20 percent. However, with this fare increase, there is a possibility that the number of student transit users will decrease.

Furthermore, another change is currently underway which might affect some student commuters.

There is a new plan to reconstruct the Interstate 90 highway. The reconstruction will take about two years.

Bellevue College student Nanami Tsumura noted “When I drive by I-90 I have been realizing recently that the I-90 bridge area has been undergoing some new construction, I did not know it was part of a bigger plan.”

Tsumura shared her reasons why she will be affected by this two-year construction project. As a running start student, Tsumura dreams of attending the University of Washington after Bellevue College.

“Having I-90 shut down for reconstruction would cause the bus to UW to have to detour and even if I do choose to drive there, it would take longer to use another route” explained Tsumura.

She continued, “Not to mention, in addition to the increased bus fare, 520’s current tolls, and all the time I spend in Seattle which I use I-90 to get to, will affect many people.”