Phase 1. Together, we organized, called, spoke, e-mailed, and wrote. Our community voted. And we won ourselves a mighty Low Income Metro Fare. Commence celebration #1.
The newly named ORCA LIFT program will begin on March 1. We encourage you to help your residents, guests, and clients sign up prior to March 1, so that they can take full advantage of the program.
Phase 2: We know you have a lot of questions about how this brand new program will work, who will really benefit, and, above all, what you should be telling people. We’ve pulled together some of the BIGGEST questions and will answer them in this blog post. Please do also consult Metro’s easy-to-navigate ORCA LIFT website. Oh, and here’s a helpful color copy of the ORCA LIFT brochure!
Anyone 18 years old or older whose household income is no more than 200 percent of the federal poverty line (FPL). The chart below shows the federal poverty guidelines by household size.
CAN MY AGENCY QUALIFY FOR ORCA LIFT CARDS AND PASS THEM OUT TO OUR GUEST/RESIDENTS/CLIENTS WHO QUALIFY?
No. ORCA LIFT cards must be tied to an individual person who has goes through the verification process with one of the 9 authorized agencies. See more info below.
IS ORCA LIFT A BETTER DEAL THAN THE OTHER REDUCE FARE PROGRAMS?
ORCA LIFT is not always a better deal. Here’s some information to consider when helping clients/residents/guests weigh the cost/benefits:
FOR YOUNG PEOPLE . . .
The ORCA youth card reduced fare is available to young people up until the day of their 19th birthday. While it costs the same as the ORCA LIFT, the youth card is accepted throughout the entire transit system in our region. As of yet, ORCA LIFT is only accepted on King County Metro buses, Sound Transit Link light rail, Kitsap Transit, Seattle Streetcar and the King County Water Taxi. ORCA LIFT is only a better deal for young people who are 19+ years old.
FOR SENIORS AND THOSE WHO HAVE A DISABILITY . . .
If someone has already qualified for the Regional Reduced Fare Permit ORCA card (RRFP), then they should stick with that and not apply for the ORCA LIFT. Why? With the RRFP, they can pay a cheaper price (75 cents) in cash, the program covers the larger regional transit network, and permanent RRFP cards don’t expire.
OKAY, ORCA LIFT IS A GOOD FIT, BUT IS THE MONTHLY PASS WORTH IT?
This completely depends on how often an individual rides the bus, and whether they can pay upfront each month. The cost of the monthly pass – which offers unlimited rides – is $54. If someone rides the bus daily, then the monthly pass is definitely an excellent deal. If someone takes less than 36 one-way trips* on the bus per month, then the monthly pass is not worth it. You may want to help folks consider their spending patterns and discuss budgeting techniques so that they can afford the up-front fee each month.
*18 round-trip rides that won’t qualify for the 2-hour transfer.
WHERE CAN PEOPLE SIGN UP? IS THIS AN ONLINE PROCESS?
Metro has partnered with 9 agencies who will be authorized ORCA LIFT enrollment offices. Locations and hours of operation vary. No, folks cannot sign up online.
IMPORTANT NOTE: if one of the contracted social service agencies cannot enroll an applicant because they can’t verify identity and/or income, then ask them to refer the applicant to Public Health. Be prepared to follow up and advocate with and for your client/resident/guest. Read on for more information about this.
Here’s a list of the agencies:
WHAT TYPES OF DOCUMENTATION DO PEOPLE NEED?
Income and identity. Before I explain anything further, it’s important for you to understand that partner agencies – especially the King County Public Health team – are committed to trying every avenue to sign people up. Compared to other programs and documentation requirements, these are much more flexible, and allow for gettin’ creative. Be prepared to help folks think outside of the box! Examples below.
INCOME . . .
- Are they employed? If so, pay stubs, a letter from employer, copy of your most recent tax return (if self-employed) or bank statements over the last 30 days will suffice.
- Do they have zero income? If so, Employment Security verification form will work.
- Are they already receiving benefits from a program that has a similar income requirement (200% FPL or less)? For example: TANF, Apple Health/Medicaid, Basic Food (Food stamps), or even your own agency’s program (!). Make a copy of award letters, copy paperwork, or contact the agency/program to get a documentation letter.
- Are they receiving an other benefits? For example: unemployment, SSI, Social Security, L & I, etc. Make a copy of award letters, copy paperwork, or contact the agency/program to get a documentation letter.
Example of getting creative with income verification . . .
Let’s say you’re helping a mom and dad, who are not yet citizens of the US, sign up for ORCA LIFT. For many reasons, they can’t directly verify their income. However, after asking some questions, you find out that their children receive Apple Health. The verification agency (e.g., Public Health) can contact the Health Care Authority to get documentation of the kids’ eligibility status, which can then be used as income verification for the parents’ ORCA LIFT application.
IDENTITY . . .
- Any government-issued photo ID, including but not limited to: state photo ID, Driver’s license, tribal ID, school photo ID, Armed Services ID w/ photo.
- A combo of two or more of the following (not a comprehensive list):
- document with a current photo of you with your name
- document that has your name and birthdate, including but not limited to: adoption papers, baptismal records, border crossing card, court order, employee ID card, marriage license, school records
Phase 3. Get on the bus with ORCA LIFT starting March 1. Commence celebration #2.