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King County approves income-based fare program for Metro

(Nick Bowman, MyNorthwest)

The King County Council unanimously approved an income-based fare program for Metro.

The program will provide free bus passes to all qualifying residents in King County with incomes at or below 80 percent of the federal poverty level, which is about $21,000 for a family of four.

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While Metro already provides ORCA LIFT cards for people with household incomes less than double the federal poverty level, this program expands on the reduced fare program and would provide access to public transit for more families in King County.

“We know that this is still not affordable for some people in King County due to the high cost of living in this region,” Metro’s website says about the existing ORCA LIFT program.

Councilmember Joanne Kohl-Welles commended the passing of the new program with the following statement:

“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. I look forward to getting this program up and running and expanding it soon so even more people in need are able to take advantage of free or subsidized public transit.”

The money for this new program has already been budgeted.

Earlier this month, The Seattle Times reported that Sound Transit had not yet decided if it would participate.

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Free ORCA LIFT cards under the new program should be available later this year. Read more about the income-based fare program on Metro’s website here.

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