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🚌 Can I pay a stranger's bus fare?

‘Back of the 14 on a Friday night.’


In May, reader Lesa Sullivan was on a RapidRide bus in North Seattle when something caught her eye: a fare enforcement officer talking to a woman about an expired transfer ticket. Although Lesa offered to pay for the woman’s ticket with her ORCA card or cash, the officer refused to let her.

“He said it couldn’t be done like that and he proceeded to take the name and [date of birth] from [the] woman,” Lesa wrote us. “Though he wasn’t hostile to her, he did assert that her bus ticket was expired and that she’d have to pay a fine. She spoke no English, so I’m not sure how much of the transaction was successful.”

So what might’ve happened here? We reached out to Scott Gutierrez, a spokesman for King County Metro, to find out. Scott doesn’t know exactly what went down on Lesa’s RapidRide bus, but gave us a sense of what might have happened…

First, a little context: RapidRide passengers have the option of paying their bus fare before boarding, unlike on other King County Metro buses, which can only take payment at the door. Because of this, RapidRide buses have fare enforcement officers who occasionally board the bus and check to see if folks are paying for their rides.

Why is that important in Lesa’s case? If a fare enforcement officer sees that someone boarded a RapidRide bus without paying or has an expired transfer, that passenger has violated Metro’s fare policy, Scott said. If it’s that passenger’s first time getting written up, the fare enforcement officer will take down their information and give them a warning. But if it’s their second violation, they’ll get a ticket — and that’s regardless of whether someone else can pay their fare.

“In most cases, [the passenger] pays the fare and remains on the bus or someone can pay for them, but it won’t change the fare violation,” Scott said.

So what may have happened in Lesa’s case is that this wasn’t the woman’s first time getting written up. If that’s true, then the fare enforcement officer probably issued her a violation and allowed her to stay on the bus. At that point, Lesa paying the woman’s fare would have made no difference, which might be why he didn’t allow her to do it.

Assuming this is what happened, is there anything Lesa could have done to get to a different outcome? No. If the woman had asked Lesa if she could help her out with her fare before either of them boarded the bus, then Lesa might have had the opportunity to go to the front of the bus to ask the driver to charge her for two fares.

So to bring this back to all of you, if you want to pay for another passenger on any King County Metro buses — including RapidRide — here’s what you have to do:

  • go the front of the bus
  • let the driver know to ring you up for two (or more) people
  • boop your personal ORCA card at the farebox or pay in cash. (ORCA Lift and student- and government-issued passes won’t work.)

…then you can all be on your merry way!

And because this is an important point, we also asked Scott about the fact that this passenger didn’t speak English.

Scott says fare enforcement officers hand out brochures that include contact info for customer service and a translator. Buses also have “Riding the Bus” pamphlets on board, which explain things like bus fare in 13 different languages.

And ultimately, if someone feels like there was a miscommunication, Scott said a ticket recipient can always challenge an infraction in court “just like with a parking ticket.”

Some more good news: King County Metro staffers are working on improving how they enforce fares. A recent audit let ‘em know that people facing housing instability or homelessness are being disproportionately impacted by misdemeanors picked up because of fare violations — and they want to fix that.

Run into something in the city you want clarity on? Always feel free to email us at [email protected]. We’ll try our best to help out.

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A basketball-sized grudge. Howard Schultz, the former and uber successful CEO of Starbucks, might want to run for president. At least, that’s the speculation ever since he stepped down from the coffee company this week. But if you think true blue Seattle would love a hometown Democrat in the top job, you should talk to Sonics fans. Howard owned our former NBA team, the Seattle SuperSonics, when he sold it to Oklahoma City investors back in 2006. They ripped the team from its Seattle roots to make it the Oklahoma City Thunder two years later, and ooooh boy were we mad. “Schultz running for President,” joked conservative talk show host Jason Rantz, “could be the first time Seattle votes Republican.” (KING 5)

Remembering our namesake. Chief Seattle died 152 years ago today. He was known as siʔał to his people (roughly pronounced “See-ah-yacht”), and led the Suquamish Tribe when they had to change their economy and culture to accommodate the non-native settlers who disrupted everything and destroyed a lot. “siʔał created long friendships with early Seattle settlers and was kind to them,” reads the Suquamish Tribe’s bio of their famous leader. “For his many gracious actions towards the settlers, founders of the city named the settlement after him.” Thanks to reader James Cameron for the note. (Suquamish Tribe)

Want to rent your car by the hour? The folks behind the Getaround app sure hope so. The app just launched in Seattle and lets you rent your car out to strangers for short trips, long trips, whatever keeps it making money instead of tra-la-la-ing in your driveway. One pre-req: Trusting a stranger with your car. (The Seattle Times)

And for all you radio geeks: KUOW, one of our rad local NPR affiliates, just taught Amazon’s Alexa some new tricks. Got an Echo at home? Say “Alexa, enable KUOW,” then “Alexa, play KUOW” or “Alexa, ask KUOW what’s playing” to tune in. (KUOW)

Yesterday, we told you all about the Shelf Life podcast, which is helping tell the oral history of the Central District. One correction: The neighborhood’s Red Apple grocery store closed in 2017, not 2016. Thanks to Jill Freidberg and reader Laura Jenkins for catching our error!

Partner Events

👋  Tuesday, June 12: Get tips on how to build an inclusive creative workplace at AIGA Seattle’s Diversity & Inclusion Workshop (Downtown)

🏆  Wednesday, June 13: Learn who you are as a leader at the next Impact Hub Lunch + Learn (Pioneer Square)

💃  Friday, June 15: Watch amazing Northwest dancers do their thing at Pacific Northwest Ballet’s NEXT STEP: OUTSIDE/IN performance and party (Queen Anne)

💪  Wednesday, June 20: When do you keep pushing, and when do you call it a day? Learn how to tell the difference at this Impact Hub Lunch + Learn (Pioneer Square)

Want to partner on your event with us? Here’s how.

Around Town


🎟 See “Les Mis” at the Paramount (Downtown)
🎈 Take the kids to storytime celebrating LGBTQ fams (Downtown)


🎶 Do a happy jig to fiddle tunes (Ballard)
🎶 Watch the symphony jam to Simon & Garfunkel (Downtown)
🎟 Cheer on drag artists’ cartoony ode to Adventure Time (Belltown)


🎶 Relax to some jazz with swimming salmon (Ballard)
🎈 Check out a power tool drag race (Georgetown)
🏞 See some pretty blooms at the Sorticulture Garden Arts Festival (Everett)
🎟 Dance to support queer arts for Pride Month (Capitol Hill)


🏞 Take your pup for a run with fellow dog-lovers (Seward Park)
🎈 Walk (or run) it out at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon (Downtown)
🎟 Watch badass dancers take the stage — through June 23 (Capitol Hill)
🎮 Show off your gaming skills at the Northwest Pinball & Arcade Show (Tacoma)

Going to one of these? Take us with you! Email a pic to [email protected] or tag #theevergrey on Instagram. See more upcoming events on our events page, and add your own events with an Evergrey membership.


So we’re real thrilled that Seattle Weekly’s out with its Seattle outdoor movie calendar for all those warm summer nights. Pro tip: Bring tissues to Coco at Marymoor Park July 18. Evergrey director Mónica Guzmán’s seen it three times, and she still sobs up a puddle when Miguel plays for Abuelita Coco.

All the feels, people. All the feels. — The Evergrey

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