In November, Seattle voters will have their say on creating a new tax base to help fund Metro bus service in the city even as service cutbacks are scheduled to begin in September. Metro fares are also already slated to rise another 25 cents next year. The county is moving to address some of this continued belt-tightening and reduction in service by creating a new reduced-fare program.
“People whose household incomes are less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level will qualify for the new rate, by using a special type of ORCA farecard — not cash on the bus,” the Seattle Times reports.
The county estimates between 45,000 and 100,000 low-income residents may qualify for the new cards but the Times says officials aren’t sure exactly how high demand will be — only San Francisco’s Muni system has attempted a similar program. A single person with a yearly income of less than $23,340 will qualify, a family of four earning below $47,700.
While the new program will cost Metro millions in “lost” fares at a time of continued cutbacks, it also addresses one of its primary objectives of helping all of the county’s citizens continue to utilize its public transportation resources.
Executive announces structure for reduced-fare program for lower-income Metro bus riders
Metro will partner with Public Health – Seattle & King County to administer the programActing upon new recommendations from an independent task force, King County Executive Dow Constantine announced today how King County will implement a reduced-fare program for lower-income bus riders by March 2015.
King County Metro will be the second major transit system in the nation to offer this type of fare.
“One of the ways we create opportunity is by helping people get to work, get to school, and get to the services they need to reach their full potential,” said Executive Constantine. “This reduced fare program will ensure that those who have lesser means still have access to opportunity.”
The reduced fare will be $1.50 for those who qualify. It takes effect on March 1, 2015, the same day that all regular Metro fares will increase by 25 cents – the fifth fare increase for Metro riders since 2008. In that time, off-peak fares will have increased by 100 percent.