Questions and answers about King County Metro fare enforcement

Recently, some questions came up in our neighborhood about the role and authorities of the Fare Enforcement Officers seen lately around King County Metro lines. We have some answers from Metro.

1. First, the question of whether Fare Enforcement Officers are law enforcement or not.

Metro’s Fare Enforcement Officers are considered Public Servants and have limited authority. Please find a link to the applicable RCWs that govern their authority:

a. RCW 7.80.040 – Enforcement Officer defined (

b. RCW 7.80.050 – Notice of Infraction

c. RCW 7.80.060 – Person Receiving Notice-Identification and Detention (

d. RCW 35.58.580 – Fare Payment-Proof of Payment-Civil Infractions (

e. RCW 35.58.585 – Fare Payment-Fines and Penalties Established-Enforcement (

f. RCW 35.58.590 – Fare Payment-Prosecution for Theft, Trespass, or other Charges (

2. What is the official, written policy on fare enforcement — do people need to present their Orca cards or not, if requested or audited?

Yes. Customers need to present their cards for inspection. There are multiple flavors of ORCA cards… Some are user specific and have the authorized user’s photo on it. The Fare Enforcement Officer (FEO) must physically inspect the card in order to verify whether or not the customer is utilizing a user specific card, and if so, verify that the customer bears a physical likeness to the photo.

3. Where is this posted, in public?

Instructions on how to pay fare on Rapid Ride coaches are provided on the Metro’s web site:

Be prepared for fare inspections

If requested, show the fare enforcement officer your ORCA card or paper transfer for proof of payment. If you do not have proof of payment on RapidRide, you are subject to a citation and fine, RCW 35.58.580.

4. Is this communicated to all fare enforcement staff?

Yes. There were some problems with inspection consistency last year but all members of Metro’s Fare Enforcement staff are now uniformly trained and required to physically inspect cards that are presented as Proof of Payment.

5. If this is not the policy, what should riders do if they encounter this situation?

This is the policy.

In total, the fare inspections (barring some sort of legal challenge) according to Metro are valid.


2 thoughts on “Questions and answers about King County Metro fare enforcement

  1. In regards to item 2 – Need To Show Orca Card – If this is true, then the same rules should apply to Orca use on Community Transit Swift in Snohomish County and on the Washington State Ferries, yet it is NOT enforced this way. – We need to know why not. What makes Metro Rapid Ride different and more strict?

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