Council considers low-income fares for Metro riders
he King County Council approved a motion Oct. 8 to establish an advisory committee to examine the development of a potential low-income fare program for Metro riders. The committee would convene in February 2013 and provide the council with recommendations by July 2013.
“The timeliness of this legislation is spot on,” said Councilmember Julia Paterson, one of five council co-sponsors.
The committee will investigate how fares affect the way low-income people use public transit; review various fare options available to these riders; identify different funding sources for a low-income fare program; and define the term “low income.”
The advisory committee will be comprised of representatives from human service agencies and the business community, as well as low-income people. Representatives from the county’s department of transportation, the Department of Social and Health Services and the directors of Community and Human Services will also participate.
The council’s unanimous vote approving the committee comes a little more than a week after Metro eliminated the Ride Free Area (RFA), which provided free bus service 13 hours a day, seven days a week throughout downtown Seattle. The county council agreed in August 2011 to end the RFA, in exchange for a $20 Congestion Reduction Charge added to vehicle registration cost. Fees amassed from the charge would ensure the transit agency didn’t have to institute service cuts county-wide.
While Metro no longer offers free bus service, the nonprofit Solid Ground operates a free downtown circulator roughly nine hours a day on weekdays. The City of Seattle pays Solid Ground $400,000 to run the pilot project.
Currently, Metro offers a reduced fare program for seniors, disabled persons and young people 6 to 18 years old. Children five and younger ride free.
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