King County Council sets reduced Metro fare at $1.25
The King County Council voted unanimously Feb. 24 to implement a $1.25 low-income fare on Metro — but only if county voters approve a ballot measure to institute a $130 million transportation package.
If the ballot measure to enact a Transporation Benefit District (TBD) fails in a April 22 special election, the council will set the low-income fare at $1.50.
“This is an area that’s been before us for some time,” Council Chair Larry Phillips said of the low-income fare.
The council voted at the same time to raise general bus fares 25 cents. Access fares will increase 50 cents.
The low-income fare and fare increases will begin March 1, 2015.
The council began discussing a reduced fare after ending the Ride Free Area in 2012. It provided free bus transportation through most of downtown.
To mitigate the loss, the council convened a low-income fare advisory committee, which recommended Metro institute a fare for low-income riders. The committee did not designate a fare.
County Executive Dow Constantine announced several transportation-related proposals in January, including a transportation package funded through a 0.1 percent sales tax increase and a $60 car tabe fee.
Constantine also proposed a $1.50 low-income fare. Many advocates for homeless people, immigrants and transit riders sought a reduced fare of $1 or lower. (See story below.)
The low-income fare will apply to people who earn less than 200 percent of the annual median income, roughly $23,000 for a single adult. The cost of the fare will remain the same until 2017.
Councilmembers also voted to create a low-income fare implementation task force. Most members will be low-income riders.
Councilmember Kathy Lambert felt the proposed task force lacked representation business owners.
But Councilmember Larry Gossett said that this task force was supposed to be different.
“It has been rare that we’ve had poor people” on committees, said Gossett.
The fare hikes for Metro and Access, which provides passenger vehicle service to people with disabilities, were proposed by Constantine earlier this year.
Some riders asked for a low-income Access fare, but the council stuck with the proposed 50-cent increase.
Beginning March 2015, the Access fare will be $1.75.
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