Wednesday, March 4, 2015

It's a Fare Question: What Happens When You Don't Pay?

Drivers may hand you this card which spells out our Fare Policy

Let’s start with our Fare Policy. It states (in our Bus Plus Book and website):
  • When you pay with cash, have the exact fare ready. Drivers do not make change.
  • Community Transit collects fares on all trips.
  • Passengers are not authorized to ride without paying their full fare.
  • If you choose to ride without paying your fare, you do so at your own risk and you may be subject to a $124.00 fine (RCW 36.57A.230 is a state law authorizing civil citations for non-fare payment.) 
The majority of our customers pay their fare—thank you! We appreciate it! Occasionally, there are riders who can’t pay their fare, for various reasons. And then there are those who decide not to pay their fare at all.

If you decide to ride without paying your fare, this is what you can expect:
  • We will ask for full fare—and we’ll do it politely. The driver is going to tell you how much fare is due for your ride. At this point, we hope that you say, “Oops, my bad,” come up with the rest of the fare and the bus and your fellow passengers will continue on its way.
  • We will continue to be polite while we tell you our fare policy. Still don’t have the full fare? The driver will tell you our fare policy. You may or may not get this card while the driver talks to you about the policy (pictured above). This card was developed four years ago to give drivers a tool to educate riders while keeping focused on the road, the safety of other passengers and their bus.
  • Swift, Commuter or Local— Swift Ambassadors and Transit Police May Be Along for the Ride . With its off-board fare payment and no fare box set-up, skipping out on paying fare happens a little more on Swift than on our other routes. However, the Fare Policy applies and it is enforced—you will see this as Transit Police Deputies ride Swift along with our Swift Ambassadors to carry out fare enforcement as part of their duties. Transit Police Deputies also ride on other routes and sometimes in plainclothes. So, while the primary emphasis is on Swift, Transit Police can show up anywhere, any time, to carry out fare enforcement as part of their duties.
Simply put, every time you decide to skip paying a fare on a Community Transit bus, you put yourself at risk at being fined $124.00—no matter what the reason.

Play Fare (Pun intended)

Consider these tips for a fare-ly smooth bus ride:
  • Get an ORCA Card.  It works like cash or a pass. Avoid the headache of going to the ATM and then getting smaller bills. You can buy it online, from a customer service office like the RideStore at the Lynnwood Transit Center or from a participating retailer. You can manage your card online and add value. There is a one-time cost of $5 for the card, but it will save you money after only a few trips. Plus, you get a 2-hour free transfer!
  • Exact change, please! Our drivers won’t be able to make change for that $20 bill you got from the ATM.
  • Be kind. Our drivers are tasked with transporting some pretty precious cargo—you and your fellow riders—in addition to making sure fares are paid. When you are short on your fare, it is their job to ask for the full fare and to tell you about our Fare Policy. Please listen to what they have to say and make a mental note for next time. That said, our drivers are not tasked with making you feel like the “example” for all to see. If you experience this, please contact us at or (425) 353-7433.

What tips and tricks do you have to make sure you have the correct fare? Have you ever helped a fellow passenger who didn’t have enough to pay the fare? Tell us in the comments.

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