Senior and Youth Fares

Back on August 23rd, the Seattle Transit Blog had a post from guest writer Ann Dasch on the latest proposal for changes to the fare structure of Washington State Ferries. In the comments, there was a sub-thread discussion about the differences between youth and senior fares, where reader “Kpt”  had this to say:

“This is perfectly easy to understand. Not sure what the confusion is about. Seniors vote. Kids don’t.”

Oh, how unfortunately true that is.

Exact figures lurk somewhere on the Internet, but the number of people 55 and over who vote tends to stay in the high 70’s, which is higher than any other age group. (18-24 from 2008 was only 58.5%.) Without delving into politics too much, it’s painfully obvious that a lot of the major decisions made in this country stem from the clout that senior citizens have. (Gun-control laws anyone?) When it comes to transportation agencies, you’ll rarely find an agency that would want to upset it’s more elder riders. For example, here in the Tri-Cities, riders 60+ years of age can ride fixed route services for free. In Seattle, persons 65+ who have obtained a Regional Reduced Fare Permit (which is also valid on 11 different agencies in the Puget Sound region) can ride for $0.75 at all times, peak or off-peak. In contrast, youth under 18 in the Tri-Cities must pay $0.80 for a fare. Seattle is a little more fair in this aspect, as youth only pay $0.75, just like seniors.

Just like what I did with the Day Pass post, I conducted a survey of all the agencies in Washington State to see what seniors and youth pay for a fare. The results speak for themselves.

1) Asotin County PBTA:  Persons 62+ qualify for half-fare, which is $0.35 on the Asotin-Clarkston route, and $0.50 on the Lewiston route. They must get a card proving their eligibility at the office in Clarkston. Youths pay the regular fares, which are $0.75/$1.00.

2) Ben Franklin Transit: As mentioned earlier, persons 60+ ride for free. Youths pay $0.80.

3) Clallam Transit: Persons 65+ AND youth ride for the same fare, $0.50.

4) Columbia County Public Transportation: Due to the unique circumstances of the agency, the fare system is split. For in-town (Dayton), 60+ persons pay $1.00, while all others pay $1.50. For rides up to 15 miles outside of Dayton and to/from Waitsburg, 60+ persons pay $3.00 roundtrip/$1.50 one way, while all others pay $5.00 roundtrip/$3.00 one way. Any rides between Dayton and Starbuck (min of 3 required) or Dayton/Waitsburg and  Walla Walla/College Place are the same fare for all riders.

5) Community Transit: For local service, persons 65+ (who’ve obtained the RRFP) pay $0.75, while youths pay $1.25. For commuter routes, Community Transit has two categories. South/Everett fares are $1.50 for persons 65+, and $2.75 for youths. North/East fares are $1.75 for persons 65+, and 3.75 for youths.

6) CUBS (Community Urban Bus Service): Seniors (the website doesn’t specify age criteria) pay $0.30, while youth (listed as Students) pay $0.60.

7) C-TRAN: Persons 65+ (who hold a C-Tran, Tri-Met, or government I.D. proving age) AND youth (proof of age required for high school-aged students) pay $0.80 for a C-Zone fare, or $1.20 for an All-Zone fare.

8) Everett Transit: Persons 65+ (with a RRFP card or other proof of age) ride for free, while youths pay $0.50. On commuter routes 70/79, persons 65+ pay $0.75 and youths pay $1.25.

9) Garfield County Public Transportation: Fares are not officially charged, but on their website they do note a suggested donation of $2.00 for local service and $5.00 for service to Lewiston, with no differences for age groups.

10) Grant Transit Authority: Persons 60+ ride for $0.50, while youths pay $1.00.

11) Grays Harbor Transit: Persons 65+ pay $0.50 for a Zone 1 fare, $1.50 for a Zone 2 fare, or $2.00 for a Zone 1&2 fare. Youths pay $0.50 for a Zone 1 fare, $2.00 for a Zone 2 fare, or $2.50 for a Zone 1&2 fare.

12) Intercity Transit: Persons 65+ (with a RRFP card or other proof of age) ride for $0.50, while youths pay $1.00.

13) Island Transit: N/A, because Island Transit is one of only two agencies in the state that are 100% fare-free.

14) Jefferson Transit: Persons 65+ AND youths pay $1.00 to ride.

15) King County Metro: As mentioned earlier, both persons 65+ (with RRFP card) AND youths pay $0.75.

16) Kitsap Transit: Persons 65+ (with RRFP card or other qualifying proof of age) AND youths pay $1.00.

17) Link Transit: Persons 65+ (who hold a Link Transit I.D. card) pay $0.60 for a 1-Zone fare and $1.25 for a 2-Zone fare. Youths pay $1.25 for a 1-Zone fare and $2.50 for a 2-Zone fare.

18) Mason Transit: Within Mason County, there are no fares charged. For out-of-county service, the senior fare is $0.50, while the youth fare is $1.50.

19) Pacific Transit: Fares for seniors and youths are the same, though the amount varies based on the route. The only differences in fares are for monthly passes.

20) Pierce Transit: For local service, persons 65+ (with a RRFP card) AND youths pay $0.75. On the Olympia Express, persons 65+ (with a RRFP card) pay $1.25, while youths pay $2.50.

21) Pullman Transit: Seniors AND youths both pay $0.30.

22)  Skagit Transit: For both local service and the 80X/90X county connector routes, persons 65+ (with a RRFP card or other proof of age) AND youths pay the same fare, which is $0.50 for local and $1.00 for the 80X/90X.

23) Sound Transit: As the agency operates buses, light rail, and commuter rail, the fares all vary. For the express buses, persons 65+ (with a RRFP card) pay $0.75 for a one-county fare and $1.50 for a multi-county fare, while youths pay $1.25 for a one-county fare and $2.50 for a multi-county fare. On the Link light rail system, persons 65+ (with a RRFP card) pay $0.75 (regardless of the distance travelled), while youths pay $1.25 (regardless of the distance travelled). On the Sounder commuter rail, persons 65+ (with a RRFP card) pay between $1.50 and $2.25 on the Tacoma-Seattle segment, and between $1.25 and $2.25 on the Everett-Seattle segment. For youths, the cost is between $2.25 and $3.50 on the Tacoma-Seattle segment, and between $2.00 and $3.25 on the Everett-Seattle segment.

24) Spokane Transit Authority: Persons 65+ pay $0.65, while youths pay $1.50.

25) Twin Transit: ? (The website is still unavailable)

26) Union Gap Transit: N/A, as Union Gap Transit is also a 100% fare-free agency like Island Transit. Fares are still charged to riders transferring from Union Gap Transit to Yakima Transit (see below).

27) Valley Transit: Seniors AND youth pay the same fare, which is $0.75.

28) Whitman County UBTA: N/A, as there is little to no information available about the agency, or even if it’s “officially” been established yet.

29) Whatcom Transit Authority: For seniors, it’s split. If a rider is 65+ and has a Reduced Fare Card, the fare is only $0.50, or $1.00 for Route 80X. However, their website also states that adults over 75 ride for free. Youth fares are also split. For youths ages 8-18, the fare is $1.00, or $2.00 for Route 80X. Riders that are under 8 years of age ride for free.

30) Yakima Transit: Persons 62+ pay $0.35, while youths pay $0.50.

Now, I don’t want anyone to think I’m against discounts for seniors. I do believe that they rightfully so deserve a discount on bus fares. However, the gap between senior and youth fares can be a bit ridiculous.  Keep in mind that (most) seniors still have some form of an income, whether that be a retirement fund/pension or social security checks. The money for a youth fare 9 times out of 10 will come from their parents/guardians. For low-income families, that can be an added strain on their finances.

Thoughts? Let me know what you think. Comment below or tweet me on Twitter, @ziggzagzac.

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2 Comments on “Senior and Youth Fares”

  1. Ann Dasch says:

    Over 18% of kids in WA state are in poverty and 45% of WA public school students qualify for free or reduced price meals (for those in or near poverty) while less than 8% of WA seniors are in poverty. ALL KIDS should pay the same price as seniors on all forms of public transit. It’s about equity, but it’s also about economics. Households with kids take more than twice the number of trips from home as households without kids. It’s better for transit systems’ bottom lines (to say nothing of the environment) for those trips to be taken on transit. And a child that doesn’t have efficient, affordable transportation doesn’t have school choice or access to the opportunities that will help them reach their potential.

  2. Ann Dasch says:

    And King County Metro raised their youth bus fare to $1.25 over a year ago. Seniors still pay 75 cents.


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