Low-income transit riders could see their King County Metro fares waived beginning in July, after the King County Council voted Feb. 25 to approve a new program.
The ordinance was approved unanimously by the council. It will create a program for households making less than 80 percent of federal poverty level, or about $21,000 for a family of four, and allow them to use Metro services free of charge.
The county estimates that about 54,000 people in the county would be eligible for the program. The program’s net costs will likely be $6 million the first year and average about $10 million in subsequent years.
To receive fully subsidized fare cards, individuals would also have to be using one of six state programs. These include the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families; Refugee Card Assistance; Aged, Blind or Disabled Cash Assistance; Pregnant Women Assistance; Supplemental Security Income; or Housing and Essential Needs programs.
“Unfortunately, for many in our community the cost of transit is a barrier to being able to get or keep a job, get an education and access health care. Too many of our most vulnerable neighbors living on the margins are being impaired by a lack of affordable access to mobility. This program removes the burden of a fare that they cannot afford to help them take a step toward living life to its fullest potential,” council member Jeanne Kohl-Welles said in a statement.