Increasing options for low-income communities to ride the bus
StoryThe Metropolitan King County Council today gave its unanimous approval to the members appointed by the County Executive who will explore developing fare programs for low income communities who use public transit as their primary source of transportation.
“The goal of the committee is to explore how we continue to provide vital transit service that is both accessible and affordable to all transit users,” said Council Chair Larry Gossett, the prime sponsor of the motion. “The makeup of the committee ensures that a wide range of voices—including those who depend on Metro as their only source of transportation—will help in providing the information we need.”
“The economic downturn, the end of the Ride Free Area, and transit fares increases have made it harder for low- and no-income people to get to work and appointments on public transportation,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips, chair of the Council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee. “I thank the members of the Low Income Fare Advisory Committee for their commitment to coming up with recommendations for making King County’s public transit system accessible to people of limited means.”
“Each member of this advisory committee is uniquely qualified and will contribute to the important work of the committee,” said Council Vice Chair Julia Patterson. “Improving ridership options and removing barriers for low-income communities is a priority of King County, and I look forward to receiving the recommendations from this advisory committee in the coming months.”
In October 2012, the Council took the proactive step of addressing the mobility needs of low-income residents throughout King County by unanimously adopting the formation of the advisory panel. The group, which consists of representatives from a wide range of human service agencies as well as those who might benefit from the recommendation of the panel, will assist in the development of public transportation fare programs for low income communities in support of the “fair and just” principles that are part of the King County Strategic Plan.
“We want to ensure that our underserved populations have access to jobs and services,” said Council Vice Chair Jane Hague. “This committee will review and discuss the options available for those citizens for which Metro is their only option.”
“The cost of transportation can affect the ability of low-income families to access job opportunities and medical care,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, chair of the Council’s Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee. “Those working in service sector jobs often have to commute for miles to find affordable housing. I look forward to recommendations from the advisory panel that will improve access to public transit and improve the quality of life for those in need.”
“Mass transit is vitally important to low income populations in our communities,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn, Chair of the Regional Transit Committee. “I look forward to hearing back about the important work this panel provides on ways we can better serve those populations.”
“This work is an important part of ensuring that our transit system serves all King County residents,” said Councilmember Joe McDermott. “It is especially important given the end of the Ride Free Area in downtown Seattle and the growing percentage of individuals who are transit dependent.”
The scope of work for the committee includes a number of issues:
• Establishing a common understanding of mobility barriers for low income populations, and how transit fare price points affect access and use of transit by low-income persons;
• Reviewing the different types of transit fare options available to meet the mobility needs of low-income persons;
• Reviewing costs of potential King County low income fare programs;
• Recommend definitions of low income to be used for the implementation of transit fare programs;
• Making prioritized recommendations related to the establishment of King County low-income fare programs;
• Identifying different options for funding low income fare programs and potential partners that may be willing to support such programs;
• Identifying opportunities and recommendations for regional low income fare programs for potential consideration by agency partners of the ORCA joint board.
The committee would present its recommendations to the Council this summer.
Low Income Transit Fare Advisory Committee Members