May 28, 2014
Vol: 21 No: 22

News

County council names task force to help implement Metro’s new low-income fare

By Aaron Burkhalter , Staff Reporter

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The King County Council has appointed a task force of 13 people to advise Metro on how to implement its new low-income fare of $1.50. The low-income fare will go into effect March 1, 2015, as other Metro fares increase by 25 cents or more.

The task force will review Metro’s plan to implement the program, including eligibility criteria and distribution of services, and it will make recommendations for changes to the King County Council by Aug. 15.

It includes representatives from the region’s social service agencies.

“I want to make sure that the people who will be using this have a say in how it works,” said County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove.

The task force includes Mahnaz Kourourian Eshetu of the Refugee Women’s Alliance, Katie Wilson of the Transit Riders Union, Alex Stoller of the Transit Advocacy Commission, Kathy Brasch of the Women’s Advisory Board, Kate Joncas of the Downtown Seattle Association, Jorge Madrazo of Sea Mar, Dan Wise of Catholic Community Services, Lynn Moody of Eastside Human Services Forum, Ginger Kwan of South King County Council on Human Services, Rob Beem of North Urban Human Services Alliance, Alison Eisinger of the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, Mary Kay Lewis of Veterans Citizen Levy Oversight Board and Alex Clark of Bellevue College.

The legislation that created the fare changes included a provision that required that a task force of people representing low-income riders make recommendations on the program to the King County Council.

The council began discussing a reduced fare after ending the Ride Free Area in 2012, which 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 low-income fare will apply to people age 18 and over 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.

The fare could have been as low as $1.25, but the lower rate was dependent on King County voters passing a 0.1 percent sales tax and $60 annual vehicle license fee. Voters rejected the proposal in April.

Some riders asked for a low-income fare to Access shuttles, which pick people up at their homes. The council stuck with its original plan increasing Access fare by 50 cents. Access fare will be $1.75 in March 2015.

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