Sound Transit is far from the only transit agency facing financial problems. Even Canadian transit systems are battling revenue shortfalls.
According to Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff, declining ridership and rising fare nonpayment have combined to create an “unsustainable” finance future for the transit agency. Fare revenue plummeted from $96 million in 2019 to just $30 million in 2020.
Unlike New York and other major cities, Sound Transit relies on the honor system to collect fares from riders. The agency’s target is having 40% of riders pay their fare. Unfortunately, Sound Transit saw actual fare payments fall from 32% of riders in 2019 to just 8% and 5% over the past two years.