King County Metro Transit has decided to eliminate the downtown ride free area on Sept. 29. The decision was really made by the King County Council as a concession to approve the two-year $20 car tab fee.
Either way, there are a few impacts for Community Transit riders.
Commuters who board Community Transit buses in downtown Seattle will pay on entry, which is how they pay everywhere else. This also means that riders must board at the front doors.
Having an ORCA card will make boarding faster; so far the vast majority of Community Transit's commuter riders have ORCA cards.
Lynnwood-bound riders who board north county Routes 421, 422 or 425 will need to let the driver know they are only going to Lynnwood before paying fare. This allows the driver to change the farebox from the default north county fare. Currently, this is done at the Lynnwood Transit Center as people deboard.
The upside to this change is that when commuters get to their destination they can just hop off the bus from any door! Also, there shouldn't be a lot of "free riders" taking their seats in downtown Seattle. Community Transit does not have a local fare in King County, so anyone boarding a bus downtown will have to pay a commuter fare.
The downside could be confusion the first few days after the change. There may also be longer waits for buses downtown as people take longer to board.
For information on how people can get around downtown, visit Metro's website.