Free Circulator?

Yesterday I attended an open house for several transit agencies to discuss the elimination of the free ride area in September. It was mostly what you know already if you’re paying attention. Starting September 29, every route will be pay as you enter, and what’s now the free ride area will just be part of the Seattle zones for Metro and ST.

The one thing that I hadn’t realized (and I didn’t notice until I was reviewing one of the handouts on the way home, so I didn’t get to ask anyone about it) was that they are considering ways to help poor people get around. These include “increase the number of human service tickets provided to the agencies” and to “operate a free circulator.”

I wish I had a chance to ask someone about it, but the two questions that come to mind are who would operate it and how do they keep it from becoming a rolling homeless shelter? I assume that the question of who operates it hasn’t been worked out since the entire idea seems to still be up in the air. As for the homeless people: of course there should be services for them, but the bus isn’t that.

I’d like a circulator through the urban core (and both ways if it’s not just up and down the same street), free or not. But I’m not sure free is the better way to go.


  1. 1


    How does Metro keep the current free ride area from being a rolling homeless shelter? That’s probably the answer to your question.

    In any case the two big issues about the RFA being discontinued are (1) how do people get to and from the human services locations in Belltown and Pioneer Square and (2) how will the loss of the RFA affect businesses downtown?

    I think a circulator is a good idea but like you wondered who would run it. Maybe the Seattle Downtown Association?

  2. 3

    Bob spews:

    I wonder if Olbermann would be interested in replacing Goldy as HA head honcho.

    Blog name certainly would be a good fit.

  3. 4

    zorg spews:

    why should it be “free”???

    Are the bus drivers working for “free”?

    Sounds like more “gimme free stuff” nonsense.

  4. 5

    dorky dorkman spews:

    re 4: I see you never have relinquished your magic ideologue de-coder ring.

    If memory serves, they were ‘free’ in a box of Kellog’s Sugar Corn Pops (Sugar Pops are tops, y’know).

  5. 7

    Tom Fitz spews:

    I started working downtown in the early ’70’s (god am I old), before the “Magic Carpet”. The downtown business honchos perceived such a need that they charted a Metro bus (or more, I never counted) as the “Bon Flyer” which gave free rides between roughly the King County Courthouse and the Bon (now Macy’s). I don’t remember how many stops there were, but it essentially provided the same service as Metro does now. It will be interesting to see what fills the vacuum, if anything.

  6. 8


    @4 The ride free idea is partially subsidized by Seattle. I think it used to cover the cost of operation years back but as costs went up the amount of the subsidy didn’t go up enough.

    That said, governments and businesses provide free services to people for a bunch of reasons including that they help people in need and that it improves sales or otherwise enhances their business.