Primary Endorsements

June 12, 2015

At our June Membership Meeting, TRU completed our endorsement process for the August 4 Primary Election.  We made endorsements in seven of the nine City Council races:

Transit Riders Union Endorsements
for Seattle City Council, Primary Election

Dist. 1: Lisa Herbold
Dist. 2: Josh Farris
Dist. 3: Kshama Sawant
Dist. 4: Michael Maddux
Dist. 5: Mercedes Elizalde or Halei Watkins
Dist. 6: Mike O’Brien
Dist. 7: no endorsement
Pos. 8: Jon Grant
Pos. 9: no endorsement

Want to volunteer with TRU to campaign for progressive candidates like Kshama Sawant and Jon Grant? Sign up here!

Amazon Shareholder Shake-Up!

June 11, 2015

Thanks to everyone who came out Wednesday morning! Here is a write-up of the event. Stay tuned for links to media coverage, and in the meantime, here are a few photos by Seattle photographer Alex Garland. We even had a surprise visit from Rev. Jesse Jackson!

While shareholders met inside, we held our own People's Stakeholder Meeting outside.

While shareholders met inside, we held our own People’s Stakeholder Meeting outside. (Photo by Alex Garland)


TRU Organizer Randy Whitelock speaks about the impact of Amazon’s growth on our transportation system. (Photo by Alex Garland)


Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke inside about Amazon’s poor record on workplace diversity, and afterwards he came out to address our rally. (Photo by Alex Garland)


Amazon, Wake Up!

June 5, 2015


Get ready to shake things up at Amazon’s annual shareholders meeting! Join the Transit Riders Union and allies from SEIU Local 6, Working Washington, Puget Sound Sage, Tenants Union of Washington State, and Teamsters 117 on Wednesday, June 10, from 8:00 to 10:00 AM outside the Seattle Repertory Theater, 2nd Ave N & Mercer, to tell Amazon it’s time they take their responsibilities to the community seriously. Please join us & also help spread the word through social media.

Amazon’s growth is profoundly altering our city, contributing to rising rents and cost of living while straining our roads and public transit system. Amazon plans to build two new office buildings in Denny Triangle, including a 24-story skyscraper. The development is expected to bring thousands of new workers to the area. Will these new jobs benefit Seattle?

Here’s what Amazon can do to demonstrate their commitment to our community: Continue reading

Transit Riders Delegation meets with City Councilmembers

May 21, 2015
Transit Riders Delegation (Photo by Doug Nielson)

Transit Riders Delegation at City Hall (Photo by Doug Nielson)

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 11.24.50 AM



On May 20th, the Transit Riders Delegation met with Seattle City Councilmembers Sally Bagshaw, Nick Licata, Mike O’Brien, and Kshama Sawant.

We presented our affordable transit goals & explained how we think the City of Seattle can work with King County and Metro to take a leading role in achieving them.

We also spoke about a number of other Transit Riders Union priorities for improving and expanding public transit. Here’s our letter to the councilmembers: Continue reading

Two Early Endorsements

May 11, 2015

At our May Membership Meeting, the Transit Riders Union made the following “early endorsements” of incumbent City Councilmembers with whom we have already worked closely:

  • Kshama Sawant for Seattle City Council District 3: Kshama Sawant has fought tirelessly for the interests of working and poor people throughout her first term on the Seattle City Council, and she has gotten results, from raising the minimum wage to increasing funding for homeless services and tent encampments. She has worked closely with grassroots organizations like the Transit Riders Union. Kshama Sawant supported the effort to preserve and expand Metro bus service and, along with Councilmember Nick Licata, led a much-needed push towards more progressive funding for public transit. She is unafraid to take a principled stance and she is also able to compromise when necessary. Re-elect Kshama Sawant for a second term!

  • Mike O’Brien for Seattle City Council District 6: Mike O’Brien has been a progressive voice on the Seattle City Council and a strong proponent of public transit. We are disappointed that he did not vote for the progressive funding amendment to Seattle’s Proposition 1. However, he did take the lead in dedicating city funding to improve transit access for low-income riders, and overall he and his office have been consistently responsive and willing to work with grassroots organizations like the Transit Riders Union. We hope to continue working with Mike O’Brien in his next term on the Seattle City Council.

We will be considering further primary endorsements at our next Membership Meeting on June 1. Want to have a say? Now’s the time to join the Transit Riders Union!

Want to support Kshama Sawant’s re-election campaign, while talking transit? Come to a Transit Supporters for Sawant House Party Fundraiser on Friday, May 15! 1642 South Lane Street, Seattle, WA 98144.

Join us on May 20th: Transit Riders Delegation meeting with Seattle City Councilmembers

May 6, 2015

Climate change. Gridlock. Rents rising and not enough money left over for bus fare. Seattle is growing fast and becoming a world-class city. Where’s our world-class transit system?

In April, the Transit Riders Delegation met with County Councilmembers to present our vision of a public transit system that’s affordable for all.

Now you’re invited to join us on Wednesday, May 20 as we meet with Seattle City Councilmembers Kshama Sawant, Mike O’Brien, Nick Licata, and Sally Bagshaw:

Transit Riders Delegation Meeting with City Councilmembers
Wednesday, May 20
12:30 – 1:30 PM
Seattle City Hall, Bertha Knight Landes Room
600 4th Avenue, Seattle 98104

RSVP by signing a Delegate Pledge and we will keep you in the loop! You can also tell us you’re coming on Facebook here.

Half of Washington State’s greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation fuels. If we’re going to stop climate change, we need to build a public transit system that gives everyone a viable alternative to driving. At the same time, our city and region are becoming less and less affordable for low- and even middle-income residents. San Francisco recently started a free bus pass program for low- and moderate-income youth, senior and disabled riders. We can do the same here! Do you believe in a public transit system that is accessible and affordable for all? So do we. Let’s organize to expand public transit and lower fares!

Photos from the Delegation for Affordable Transit!

April 30, 2015

So, maybe you didn’t make it out to the Transit Riders Delegation’s meetings with County Councilmembers on April 22 and 27. Lucky for you, we have photos! Check out these pics from April 22 and make sure to join our Delegation at meetings with City Councilmembers coming up in late May. RSVP here so we can keep you in the loop.

Delegates arrive and sign in at the park outside

Delegates arrive and sign in at the park outside the King County Courthouse. It’s a beautiful day! (Photo by Yasmin Elbaradie)

TRU Members - 1

Transit Riders Union members and delegates wait till it’s time to enter the courthouse… (Photo courtesy of Undrgrnd Productions)

"One Voice, One Fight, Transit is a Human Right!"

“One Voice, One Fight, Transit is a Human Right!”  We know why we’re here, and with some energetic chanting we let passers-by know too  (Photo courtesy of Undrgrnd Productions)

IMG_7691 cropped

The Transit Riders Delegation for affordable transit fills the council chambers, and delegates rise to speak from the podiums.  (Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan King County Council)


The Councilmembers listen to a delegate testifying to the need for lower transit fares.

Councilmembers Rod Dembowski, Larry Gossett and Joe McDermott listen as twenty-five delegates testify to the need for lower fares to make public transit affordable for all. (Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan King County Council)


After the meeting, many delegates regroup outside. (Photo courtesy of Yasmin Elbaradie)

After the meeting, many delegates regroup outside for a debriefing and announcements of upcoming events. (Photo courtesy of Yasmin Elbaradie)


Our work is far from over, but we've taken the first big step in our campaign to make public transit affordable for all. (Photo courtesy of Seattle Commute 2014)

Our work is far from over, but we’ve taken the first big step in our campaign to make public transit affordable for all. (Photo courtesy of Undrgrnd Productions)

Don’t miss the next steps in the campaign! Sign up to join the Delegation here.

The Transit Riders Delegation Speaks!

April 24, 2015

At last, the Transit Riders Delegation is on the move!  On Wednesday, April 22, we met for the first time with King County Councilmembers Larry Gossett, Joe McDermott and Rod Dembowski. Transit riders filled the council chambers, and twenty-five delegates – students, workers, seniors, parents, people with disabilities, teachers, clergy, service providers – spoke passionately about the need to lower bus fares and make public transit affordable for all.

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 11.24.50 AM

Then, on April 27, our Delegation met with Council Chair Larry Phillips and a representative from the office of Councilmember Dave Upthegrove to deliver the same message.

Take a look at the photos from April 22 in the post above, and also the report we presented to the Councilmembers detailing our affordable transit goals.

We’re rolling, but our work is just beginning! Sign up to join the Delegation here and we will keep you in the loop about upcoming meeting with Seattle City Councilmembers.

Join the Delegation for Affordable Transit!

March 25, 2015

Organizing works! The Transit Riders Union along with a strong coalition of organizations and individuals campaigned for a low income fare, and we won! (How do you apply? Find out here.)

This is a great first step, but we’re still a long ways from affordable public transit for all. Bus fares went up yet again on March 1 – now King County Metro is second only to New York City for the highest basic adult fare in the nation. Senior and disabled riders saw their monthly pass cost jump from $27 to $36, and a monthly pass for youth now costs $54.

image_Rising Cost of Riding the Bus

In fact, the real cost of riding the bus has been rising ever since Metro was founded in 1973! Repeated fare increases are another way of pushing the cost of public transit onto working and poor people, rather than working to change our state’s regressive tax system. So, the Transit Riders Union is continuing to organize and push for affordable public transit for all. Join our Delegation!

Here are some of the things we’re asking for:

Continue reading

How will Link Light Rail change bus service to Capitol Hill and the University District?

March 23, 2015

Metro and Sound Transit are developing alternatives for coordinating bus service with light rail when the new stations on Capitol Hill and at Husky Stadium open next year.

How will the bus routes you ride be affected?  Will your service be improved or reduced?  The Transit Riders Union wants to know. Please delve into the details to see how the two proposed alternatives will affect you, and let us know what you think, either in the comments or by emailing

And, here is a summary of the proposed changes in list form, helpfully compiled and sent to us by a bus rider and TRU supporter, that may be easier to read. (Disclaimer: this hasn’t been extensively double-checked for accuracy, so if you see a change that is concerning it’s best to also look for the details on Metro’s site):

Take Action: Speak Up for HB 2186!

March 9, 2015

You know those vast parking lots at Northgate Mall, Walmart, Home Depot and other big box stores? Not only do they take up space and create an environment hostile to pedestrians, they contribute to stormwater runoff pollution and they stand nearly empty much of the time. And yet, they’re totally exempt from the Commercial Parking Tax that Seattle levies on lots where customers pay to park.

The Transit Riders Union has been working with progressive legislators in Olympia on legislation that would authorize a tax on Non-Residential Parking Facilities, requiring the parking lot owner to pay for these huge expanses of pavement. This progressive tax would close the loophole that exempts “free” parking spaces that actually come with high social costs. It would raise badly-needed revenue for public transit, as well as being good for the environment and improving our urban landscape.

Now is the time to contact your representatives in the House in support of HB 2186!  Name the bill number and tell them you support a tax on non-residential parking facilities.

It’s easy to find your legislators here:

Or, just call the legislative hotline, 1-800-562-6000, leave a message with your name and street address, and it will be forwarded to your legislators.

No Fare Hikes! Help us win affordable transit for all.

February 26, 2015

Join the Delegation *

On March 1, San Francisco will make riding the bus FREE for low and moderate income seniors and people with disabilities.  On that same date, King County Metro will RAISE fares for all these riders by 33%.  Standard and youth fares will also go up by $0.25, and Access fares will go up by $0.50.

C’mon King County – we can do better!

The Transit Riders Union won our fight for a low income reduced fare.  Now, we’re going to win affordable transit for all. But we need your help.

This spring, a Delegation of hundreds of transit riders will meet with County Councilmembers to reject fare hikes and demand affordable transit for everyone. Join the Delegation. It’s time for transit riders to stand up and take action.

Sign a Delegate Pledge online

Delegate Pledge – Printable PDF

No Fare Hikes! Flyer – Printable PDF

Upcoming Delegation Organizing Meeting:

Sat., Feb. 28: 3:00 – 5:00 @ Casa Latina Training Center, 317 17th Ave S. (enter from 17th)

Ask a Bus Driver

February 24, 2015

By Sam Smith

Hello Metro riders! My name is Sam Smith, and I’ve been a Metro driver since early 2013. I hear all sorts of questions from passengers, friends, and fellow TRU members on a range of topics related to my job. This column is dedicated to answering some of those questions. Anything you want to know – Why do the poles come off the wires so often? Where do you pick up the bus? – just ask! Send questions to

Dear Bus Driver Sam,

I’ve heard rumors that Metro drivers go to the bathroom in cups and bottles. Is that true? – Randy, Central District

Thanks for submitting the very first question to this column, Randy! I’m so glad you asked, because I love talking about bathroom breaks for bus drivers. It’s perhaps the most challenging logistical aspect of the job. I could go on a lengthy rant about the difficult labor conditions that recently resulted in Metro being fined by Labor & Industries, but before I jump into the bad and the ugly, allow me to brag about some of the things I love about bus driver bathrooms.

The Good

When I was first hired, I was outfitted with the usual items you may suspect: a collection of uniforms, employee handbook, county ID badge, etc. What stood out most to me was a fairly standard-looking metal house key. At this point, having been through a month of training, I already knew that this key served no purpose in starting a bus engine or entering the Metro base, so what was it for?

“It’s your T-key. T as in Toilet.”

Continue reading

No Fare Hikes Campaign: FAQs

February 16, 2015

Who will be affected by the proposed fare increases?
All bus riders will be affected by the proposed fare increases, but the increased fares will be especially burdensome on seniors, riders with disabilities and youth.

How much does Metro want to raise fares by? 

Category Current Fare New Fare Difference
Adult 1-zone Peak $2.50 $2.75 +$0.25
Adult 2-zone Peak $3.00 $3.25 +$0.25
Adult Off-Peak $2.25 $2.50 +$0.25
ORCA LIFT Reduced Fare
(i.e. low-income fare)
NA $1.50
Youth $1.25 $1.50 +$0.25
Senior/Disabled $0.75 $1.00 +$0.25
Access Paratransit $1.25 $1.75 +$0.50


How much money would raising these fares generate? 
These fare increases are expected to generate around $6 million annually.

What impact will raising the youth fare have on students in Seattle? 
Students who live less than 2 miles from school are not eligible for a free ORCA card (subsidized by Seattle Public Schools). They must pay to take the bus, which could cause economic hardship and lead to students missing school on account of not being able to pay to get there and back.

Why does Metro need to raise more revenue? 
The State of Washington has one of the lowest contributions to local transit systems in the nation. That leaves King County Metro scrambling for revenue from local sources (sales taxes) and bus fares.

Metro canceled the proposed cuts to bus lines and service last fall. So why are they now trying to raise fares? 
Metro canceled the bus cuts through a combination of changing Metro’s reserve policy and trusting healthy sales tax projections.

If Metro doesn’t raise these fares, what are alternative forms of raising money? 
King County can put an Employer Head Tax (a very small fee for employers) on the ballot for transit. County­wide, this would raise enough money to reverse the fare hike and even lower the fares! The City of Seattle can also pass an Employer Head Tax for transit and pass a Commercial Parking Tax increase to fund transit.

What impact will raising fares have overall? 
A fare increase of 10% generally results in a ridership reduction of around 3.5%. This means more people driving, causing traffic and contributing to climate change.

Why should I join the Transit Riders Union’s delegation? 
Stand up for affordable transit for all! A strong, affordable transit system will help the region fight climate change, traffic and economic inequality.

No Fare Hikes! Affordable Transit for All

February 10, 2015

* Join the Delegation *

On March 1, San Francisco will make riding the bus FREE for low and moderate income seniors and people with disabilities.  On that same date, King County Metro will RAISE fares for all these riders by 33%.  Standard and youth fares will also go up by $0.25, and Access fares will go up by $0.50.

C’mon King County – we can do better!

The Transit Riders Union won our fight for a low income reduced fare.  Now, we’re going to win affordable transit for all. But we need your help.

This spring, a Delegation of hundreds of transit riders will meet with County Councilmembers to reject fare hikes and demand affordable transit for everyone. Join the Delegation. It’s time for transit riders to stand up and take action.

Sign a Delegate Pledge online

Delegate Pledge – Printable PDF

No Fare Hikes! Flyer – Printable PDF

 Upcoming Delegation Organizing Meetings:

Sat., Feb. 14: 3:30 – 5:30 @ Capitol Hill Public Library Meeting Room, 425 Harvard Ave E.

Sat., Feb. 21: 3:00 – 5:00 @ Casa Latina Training Center, 317 17th Ave S. (enter from 17th)

Sat., Feb. 28: 3:00 – 5:00 @ Casa Latina Training Center, 317 17th Ave S. (enter from 17th)

Low Income Reduced Fare: Sign Up Now!

February 4, 2015

How much is the reduced fare, and how much does a reduced fare ORCA card cost?

The reduced fare is $1.50 per ride, for any time of day, one-zone or two-zone travel. You can pay per ride, or get a monthly pass for $54. The ORCA LIFT card is free once you qualify and it’s valid for 24 months. If it gets lost or damaged, a replacement costs $5.

How do I qualify?

Your income must be below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (chart below). To show that you are eligible you’ll need to present documentation, such as an award letter for EBT food stamps or SSI, a ProviderOne medical services card, paystubs or tax return. A full list of acceptable documents can be found at

Household Size 200% of Federal
Poverty Guidelines
1 $23,340
2 $31,460
3 $39,580
4 $47,700
5 $55,820
6 $63,940


When and where can I get an ORCA LIFT card?

You can order one now and it will be mailed to you starting February 1! Visit for a full list of enrollment locations, days and times. When you get your card, it won’t have any value on it yet. You can pay for Epurse value or a monthly pass at an ORCA customer service center (King Street Center, 401 S. Jackson), ticket vending machine, or ORCA retailer.

Can I pay the reduced fare with cash?

Nope, you must have an ORCA LIFT card.

Can I use my ORCA LIFT card on Sound Transit?

Link Light Rail is also introducing a $1.50 low-income reduced fare starting March 1, but Sound Transit buses are not. You can still use your card on ST buses and other services that accept ORCA, but you’ll have to pay the full fare – if you are using the monthly pass, you can make up the difference with E-Purse or cash. Kitsap Transit and the King County Water Taxi also have a low income fare.

Do you Qualify for the new ORCA LIFT Reduced Fare of $1.50?

If your annual income is less than listed in the chart below, you do!

More questions?

They may (or may not) be answered here:

Fruitvale Station: Free Film Night Coming Up!

January 24, 2015

Fruitvale_Station_posterFruitvale Station Film Night
Saturday, January 31
4:00 – 7:00 PM (movie will start at 4:30)
Hillman City Collaboratory
5623 Rainier Ave S. (Metro Bus Route 7)

Light refreshments provided, please bring something to share if you can.

Don’t miss TRU’s screening of the award-winning film Fruitvale Station! Come watch, discuss, and kick off TRU’s Fare Enforcement watchdog campaign. If you can, bring a potluck dish or snacks to share. Light refreshments will be provided. Contact Randy ( if you have questions or want to get involved.

Fruitvale Station is a 2013 American drama film written and directed by Ryan Coogler and produced by Forrest Whitaker. It is based on the events leading to the death of Oscar Grant, a young black man who was unarmed and killed by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle at the Fruitvale BART Station in Oakland, California.

March with TRU on MLK Jr. Day

January 15, 2015

March with TRU at the 33rd Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Rally and March on Monday, January 19! We’ll have a table set up starting at 9:00 AM, so come by to say hi and attend a workshop.  The rally starts at 10:00, speakers at 11:00, and the march at 12:00.  Look for TRU’s big yellow banner!  We’ll have a new issue of our newsletter the Transit Reader, so make sure to find us and pick up a copy or a bunch.

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 9.36.38 AM

For more information about the rally and march, visit