Toward a regional low income transit fare
By Robby Stern
PSARA is supporting the Transit Riders Union(TRU), to fight to preserve, expand, and improve the public transportation system in Seattle and beyond, so that every human being has access to safe, affordable, and reliable public transit.
PSARA recently joined with TRU to deliver a letter to King County Council Chair, Larry Gossett. The letter encouraged the Council “to make sure that this program is adequate to the need, and that the application process is simple and dignified.”
The King County Council is convening an advisory committee to assist in the development of a regional low income fare program. Gossett and Councilmember Julia Patterson will chair the advisory committee.
A combination of factors have made public transportation less accessible. They include fare increases, the economic recession and the recent closure of the Ride Free Zone. The letter encouraged the Council “to make sure that this program is adequate to the need, and that the application process is simple and dignified.”
Among the recommendation made by the TRU and its allies in the letter include:
- No replacement of the reduced Fare Bus Ticket program which allows health and human service agencies to purchase subsidized tickets for the people they serve.
- A regional low fare program covering all the transit agencies that now recognize the Regional Reduced Fare permit for seniors and people with disabilities.
- A low income fare that matches the current senior and disabled fare of $0.75.
- Any individual receiving some other form of income-based assistance (such as food stamps) be eligible for reduced fare.
- Additionally, a low income fare threshold of 200% of FPL (the federal poverty level) be established for people who would be eligible for income assistance but do not apply for it and/or receive it.
Funding will be an issue for the transit agencies. The letter urged the King County Council to lobby for funding from the legislature, perhaps from the state Transportation Budget to help pay for the low income fare program. In the event, such a source of funds is not available, the letter recommends a county-wide Employer Tax be considered as King County has the authority to levy such a tax.