King County Executive Dow Constantine and the King County Council joined today in thanking the Low-Income Fare Options Advisory Committee for its work in examining how to make transit more affordable for low-income riders.
King County Executive Dow Constantine and the King County Council joined today in thanking the Low-Income Fare Options Advisory Committee for its work in examining how to make transit more affordable for low-income riders. The committee undertook an intensive six month review of Metro Transit’s fare structure, finances and the challenges low-income riders face. The committee’s final report reflects consensus approval of recommendations that will help shape future fare decisions.
Executive Constantine formally transmitted the advisory committee’s report today to the King County Council.
“I commend the 21 people who served on this committee for their hard work and I share their desire to keep fares as affordable as possible for our most vulnerable residents who rely on Metro to get around,” said Executive Constantine.
“I thank the members of the Low Income Fare Advisory Committee for their hard work,” said Larry Gossett, Council Chair and prime sponsor of the motion that created the committee. “Their recommendations align with King County’s commitment to equity and social justice. It is time to broaden our definition of transit need to include the transit dependent members of community – those that use Metro as their primary mode of transportation but cannot easily absorb the price of a ticket into their household budget.”
Committee members have spent several months examining Metro’s fare structure, existing discount fare programs and current policies against the backdrop of a serious funding shortfall that threatens future bus service in the county. That review has produced eight recommendations that support the county’s ongoing commitment to equity and social justice and its goal of providing safe and efficient bus service for riders of all income levels.
“Some people are struggling financially so much that they can’t even afford to ride the bus,” said Council-Vice Chair Julia Patterson. “The committee’s work is our first step in figuring out how to make Metro more accessible to low-income individuals and families, and I want to thank committee members for dedicating their time and energy to this important issue.”
The committee concluded that a low-income fare should be created to ensure greater equity and access to bus service. The committee also called for the continuation of King County’s Human Services ticket program citing the important role it plays in providing tickets to help the homeless and others with no income access transit.
”The Low-Income Fare Options Advisory Committee’s dedication and hard work advances the goal of making transit more affordable to people who are struggling to make ends meet,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips, Chair of the Transportation, Economy, and Environment Committee. “I look forward to reviewing the committee’s recommendations and thank them for their service.”
The committee’s report cited the challenge of creating a low-income fare as Metro prepares for a 17 percent reduction in bus service if the legislature fails to act on a transportation package. In making its recommendations, the committee proposed that a low‐income fare program be considered as a “beneficiary of new or increased revenue” in addition to revisiting the existing Metro fare structure.
In accepting the report, Executive Constantine pledged to work collaboratively with councilmembers in the coming months on a comprehensive review of Metro transit fares and how to best establish a low-income fare program. The Executive and Council will also continue to push for sustainable funding solutions in Olympia.
“I am pleased that the Low-Income Fare Advisory Committee has recommended the implementation of a bus fare that will help the most vulnerable in our communities access Metro services,” said Councilmember Rod Dembowski who is also the Chair of the Regional Transit Committee. “I look forward to collaborating with my colleagues to ensure that the mobility needs of King County residents are addressed in an equitable way.”
In the meantime, programs such as Metro’s ticket incentive program, the Regional Reduced Fare Permit and human service ticket programs will continue to assist people who rely on Metro as a safety net.
For more information about the Low-Income Fare Options Advisory Committee’s recommendations, go to www.kingcounty.gov/transportation/LowIncomeOptions.aspx.