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Metro’s Multi-Use Transfer

July 17, 2012 Featured, Public Transit 10 Comments

For many transit riders the bus transfer is an important piece of paper.  Until this year I didn’t know the why or how to use a transfer but I learned quickly.

ABOVE: A transfer from April 16, 2012

The current MetroBus adult fare is $2 and a “multi-use transfer” costs $1 more. Depending upon your trip it’s worth the extra buck. When you board a bus and pay $3 you get a transfer good for at least two hours. The driver tears off the transfer at the appropriate spot depending upon the current time.

ABOVE: Ride late enough and you’ll get a transfer good until service ends.

Here are some examples where the transfer comes in handy:

  1. Transferring to another bus to reach your destination.
  2. Transferring from bus to light rail to reach your destination.
  3. Return bus trip for a quick visit somewhere.
I’m back to buying a monthly pass now but I did all of the above over the winter months when I  was a cash rider. If you’re taking one bus to a place where you’ll be for three hours before leaving then a transfer doesn’t make sense. But if you’re going to the library to pick up a reserved item and you’ll be in/out within 30 minutes then the transfer will get you back home for $1 rather than $2.
There were times that I had bought a transfer and couldn’t use it, the next bus coming 10 minutes after my transfer expired.With experience I got better at figuring out when to buy a transfer and when no too.
If you start at MetroLink your time-stamped ticket also works like a transfer. When I was a cash rider I’d buy a stack of 2-hour tickets in advance from the MetroRide store at 7th & Washington Ave since I rarely carry cash, especially $1 bills. These don’t expire for months and are good for use on MetroLink and cover your fare & transfer on MetroBus. When I was going somewhere on MetroLink I’d often start my trip on the (#99 Downtown Trolley) because I’d get more time than I would just by stamping the 2-hour pass upon entering my starting station.

— Steve Patterson


Currently there are "10 comments" on this Article:

  1. RyleyinSTL says:

    The only way to get a transfer is by paying extra for one? Should you not get one of these automatically when you get on the bus so your trip can continue on rail or another bus?  It was always my impression that your $2.00 gave you X amount of time (2hrs presumably) to complete your trip and/or return on any combination of Metro service you desired without extra payment.  That’s how it works in any other city I have used public transport.

    • Will Fru says:

       No, Metro follows the user-unfriendly policy of making you pay more for your enjoyment of an inconvenient transfer, which are inevitable in so many Metro trips.

    • Shabadoo says:

      no, obviously you have never ridden a bus, try it it chicago where it is not possible to get a cash transfer on the bus.  you have to get it at a train station, so if you are using two buses you have to buy two full fares.  in most cities you pay bus fare for the bus you are on, and pay for a transfer, that’s  how it works in any other city and st. louis.  because our system is antiquated you still can get a cash transfer on the bus.

      • RyleyinSTL says:

        Just got back from San Fran…didn’t work that way there.  1 fair and as many buses/trips as you’d like until your time is up (worked on the street car too). Just saying, other places seem to have it set up a bit more simply.

        • Shabadoo says:

          you must be talking about muni, which you can’t use to transfer to the
          bart system, its not quite as simple as you are making it out to be 

  2. JZ71 says:

    Denver’s RTD has free transfers, which I think works better.  The whole concept behind public transit is (or should be) a transit SYSTEM.  People should be able to use transit to get from point A to point B, and riders should NOT be penalized if they need to transfer.  And given today’s sprawling metropolitan areas, the old hub-and-spoke bus routes, left over from the days of streetcars, are becoming less and less relevant – suburb to suburb travel is becoming much more the norm.

  3. Douglas Duckworth says:

    To be a system Metro must implement free transfers. The Union should get on this.

  4. GMichaud says:

    I am in agreement with DD, JZ and others, it is a transit system and the transfer should be free. The list shown is absurd. If anything maybe a new category that replaces transfer, half day passes for $3.50. Naw, probably better to stick to reducing full day fares to $3.50.
    Metro is poorly run, they selected an insider politician rather than a tech, creative type administrator who could direct the redesign of routes.
    Look at the damn list of times and the word void over and over, insane, pure insanity: it’s like Metro is asking “what can we do to get people to hate mass transit”
    At least there is something Metro is good at.
    Question:  wouldn’t low, easy to deal with fares help grow the Metro system through volume?

    • JZ71 says:

      To your last question, yes.  However, since every trip on public transit is heavily subsidized by the taxpayers (with individual riders paying less than 30% of the total cost of providing each trip), more riders does not equal more “profit”.  (Metro is obviously non-profit – I’m just using “profit” to illustrate the point.)  More riders would likely just result in more-crowded buses and trains, at least in the short term.

      In reality, the best answer would be to view transit more as a government service or utility, like trash collection or water, and to bill/tax everyone.  Use a little or a lot, it really doesn’t matter.  The upside to making it “free” would be a better perception and higher usage.  The downside is that, like anything that is “free”, it can and will be used by people (homeless, young, addicted) for non-transit purposes.

  5. I think Metro should make up for that price increase by increasing the transfer time either by 30 minutes or an hour. 


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