You have until November 5, 2015, to comment on proposed fare changes that could make transit more affordable for low-income transit riders.
ORCA LIFT went into effect in March of this year, offering a $1.50 fare for riders making 200% or less of the federal poverty level (about $23,000 in annual income for an individual). ORCA LIFT payments are currently accepted on King County Metro buses, South Lake Union Streetcar and Sound Transit Link Light Rail.
Sounder trains and ST Express buses do not currently accept ORCA LIFT, but in late September, Sound Transit released a set of proposed fare changes that could expand coverage to both modes. In a recent comment letter, Transportation Choices and coalition partners (including OneAmerica, Puget Sound Sage, Futurewise, Housing Development Consortium, Transit Riders Union, and the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness) urged Sound Transit to adopt the most inclusive fare change proposal: system-wide low-income fares. Below is an excerpt from our letter.
Providing affordable transportation options is a critical component in addressing regional equity goals. After housing, transportation is the second highest household cost in the Puget Sound region and recent studies show that reliable access to transportation is the single most important factor in escaping poverty. Access to affordable transit access can lessen transportation cost burdens for low-income households in our region. We strongly support expanding the ORCA LIFT across the entire Sound Transit system, which will help increase economic opportunity and shrink wealth inequality. ORCA LIFT expansion will be uniquely important as Sound Transit grows its services through ST3: 35% of Snohomish County residents and 39% of Pierce County residents would qualify for ORCA LIFT. All three of the counties in the Puget Sound region surpass the state average for this statistic, suggesting high demand for the product.
We urge you to show Sound Transit your support for a system-wide low-income fare. Comments can be submitted online (take the survey) in person (11/5/2015 at Union Station, noon-1 p.m), by email (email@example.com), or over the phone (1-866-940-4387). For more detailed info, visit: http://www.soundtransit.org/farechange and read our comment letter.