Thursday, October 1, 2009

Take Transit In Seattle when visiting, and heres a tip.

UPDATE 1/1/2010: This no longer works as the ORCA card does not offer Day Passes, and the tickets from TVMs are no longer honored on anything other than the system in which you got the ticket (i.e. Ticket from LINK machine is good on LINK only). King County Metro will still offer the Weekend Day Pass for $4.50 from drivers, and is valid on KCM vehicles only. I personally think its lame that a ticket from a TVM can not be used as a Day Pass.

This is a little known secret (I spread the word when I can), but if they didn't want you to use it, they wouldn't offer it. In Seattle theres a way to get a Day Pass, Everyday of the week. In the past, I would visit a Sounder Station, swing by the ticket machine and purchase a Round Trip Ticket. Now that LINK Light Rail is open, you can purchase the same ticket types from those machines, and they are always available and more convenient to Downtown Travelers.

Whats so special about a Round Trip Ticket? It is valid on all of Seattle's Transit Services (Except Washington State Ferries and the Monorail) at Face Value. This includes King County Metro, Sound Transit, Pierce Transit, Community Transit and more. The key is face value. I will use 2 examples, 1 is you purchase a LINK Light Rail ticket from Westlake Station to Othello Station. The One Way Fare is $2.00, and Round Trip ticket will cost you $4.00. The Face value of your ticket is $2.00. You have "Transfer Rights" up to $2.00. That means if you ride Sound Transit Route 550 to Bellevue, the fare is $2.50, you would owe 0.50 for each trip you take.

Example 2, If you purchase a Sounder Ticket from Seattle King Street Station to Kent Station, the One Way Fare is $3.50, a Round Trip ticket would be $7.00. That ticket is good on all transit up to $3.50, which would cover any Sound Transit Bus Route or Light Rail Line (Max Fare is $3.00 for 3 Zones), Any King County Metro Routes, Even at Peak ($2.50) and even Community Transits Commuter Lines ($3.50). The pass would be good for passage up to $3.50 on Sounder, but if you need to travel further, you can purchase an upgrade in the machine for the difference, using your Face Value for full value. Senior, Disabled, and Youth Fares are available in the same fashion, the fares will be lower.

For most staying in Seattle, Purchasing a Westlake to Tukwila Link Light Rail Round Trip Ticket will work best. Its face value is $2.50 (Cost is $5), which will get you on LINK, King County Metro (Seattles Transit) at all times, and most Sound Transit Routes within King County (Bellevue, Redmond) all day. It will get you to the Seattle Center and Space Needle, Capitol Hill, Northgate and the Airport.

Things to keep in mind with the pass, You can buy a Round Trip pass from any LINK Light Rail or Sounder TVM by selecting the "Round Trip" option from the Ticket Type Screen. You can purchase these types of tickets up to 14 days in advance (Round Trip tickets only, One Ways are timed, so they can only be used within 2 hours of purchase). So if your going to be in town for a day or two, you can buy both days in the same visit. At the bottom, there is a button for "Advance Date". You can purchase a Round Trip ticket with your ORCA card, but you can not load the ticket, or a Day Pass onto an ORCA Card. Round Trip fares will always be double the face value, which provides a better value on weekends over King County Metros Day Pass ($4 vs. $3.50), and provides an option on weekdays. You can not purchase these tickets online or at pass sales outlets, they are only available from a Vending machine. The Machines take Cash, Debit, Credit and ORCA. A Round Trip pass is Yellow and White, and Single Use Ticket is Orange and Yellow (in photo).

Fares for LINK Light Rail are here, and for Sounder Commuter Rail here. Bus fares are 1 Zone $1.50, 2 Zones $2.50 and 3 zones $3.00, Seattle City Limits and County Lines are zone boundaries. This is the best way to see Seattle and the region, you don't have any time limits to worry about, and its easy to buy and use!

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