Without a long-term fix for offering very low-income riders both light rail and bus tickets, Metro becomes the transit system for the poor.
Without a long-term fix for offering very low-income riders both light rail and bus tickets, Metro becomes the transit system for the poor. CHARLES MUDEDE

Charles has written before about the Transit Riders Union's fear that light rail expansion in Seattle is creating a "second class transit system."

The problem: Metro and Sound Transit have two different systems for selling low-cost tickets to social service agencies, which then hand those tickets out to very low-income people. While both agencies offer tickets, cash-strapped service providers are often faced with choosing one or the other. Since Metro's tickets work on the entire bus system and Sound Transit's work only on light rail, they usually opt for the bus tickets. As that happens (and bus routes are restructured to make room for light rail), the very poor are shut out from the city's fastest and most reliable transit.

Now, the transit agencies have found a temporary workaround. According to Metro, they'll begin offering "combo tickets" in mid-June.

Seattle Transit Blog had the news first:

The two agencies will keep the same programs and policies, but will simply issue a single joint ticket, perforated with two Metro 1-zone passes and a Link Day Pass. Service agencies will pay $11 for a book of 10 combo tickets. The internal administrative burdens of these programs will remain, as will the disparate fare policies, but this step should serve the immediate need while long-term solutions are found.

Those much-needed long-term solutions will likely use the ORCA card instead of paper tickets, according to Metro. STB has laid out one way to get there.