The November 8th election is rapidly approaching and we at the Coalition are excited about one measure that you’ll find at the end of your ballot. Sound Transit (A Regional Transit Authority) Proposition No. 1 will be the very last thing on the ballot and we encourage you to vote yes!
In the past the Coalition has worked on other transit issues, including the ORCA LIFT fare and the Move Seattle transit measure. We care about affordable transit because it allows low-income individuals to access opportunities that they otherwise wouldn’t, it helps people survive and increases their ability to thrive in our community.
Here are reasons why the Coalition is excited about Proposition 1:
Proposition 1 invests more than $20 million in affordable housing, and requires 80% of surplus land to be prioritized for building affordable housing.
Mass transit built as part of this proposition will serve more than 36,000 current units of subsidized housing. As more affordable housing is built along the line, more people will be served by transit.
It will increase access to jobs and education for low-income, working and middle class families by providing an affordable transportation option with shorter commute times.
It will provide reliable public transportation for seniors and people with disabilities which will allow for more independence.
Mass transit will reduce air and carbon pollution, which disproportionately impacts people of color.
Voting yes on Sound Transit Proposition 1 will increase equity in our community by increasing opportunities for low-income and middle class individuals. This is the most cost effective way to expand transit and help people get where they need to go!
If you’re passionate about this issue and would like to volunteer with the Mass Transit Now! campaign you can sign up to doorbell, call voters, go to community events, do data entry or other important work here!
The Transit Riders Union (TRU) is organizing to ensure that everyone in our community can access transit options, especially with the recent expansion of the Light Rail and subsequent changes to some bus service.
As a reminder, the ORCA LIFT low-income fare is now available for anyone in King, Snohomish, or Piercecounty who makes less than 200% of the federal poverty limit ($23,760 for a household of 1, $40,320 for a household of 3). Visit www.orcalift.com for more information!
The following information was shared at our April 21 General Membership meeting, and prepared as a guest blog post by Katie Wilson, General Secretary of TRU. PDF version here.
Human Services Bus Ticket Campaign
progress report & call to action
April 25, 2016
The problem: Toward the end of last year TRU started realizing that the expansion of Link Light Rail and the Metro bus service restructure would raise barriers for people who use bus tickets, since the tickets and paper transfers are not accepted as proof of payment on light rail.
The pressure: After a letter and meetings with councilmembers produced inconclusive results, we started a petition and announced a public action for April 16th. The KC Exec’s office quickly got in touch to tell us they were working on a solution.
The solution: This “combo-ticket” will be available starting mid-June, at a cost $11 for a booklet of 10. (It is priced at 20% of the value of the bus tickets, with no extra cost for the light rail pass.) It will also be possible to swap out tickets already purchased. Until then, King County Metro has said that if organizations purchase Sound Transit Link day passes at $1 each, they will throw in twice as many bus tickets for free (Contact: Brandon Banks, firstname.lastname@example.org, 206-477-6664.)
More in the works…
Raising the cap: Since we’ve heard from many organizations that they were not allocated their full ticket request this year, we have also urged county councilmembers to raise the cap. Councilmember Dave Upthegrove has been very responsive on this issue (call or email him to say thanks!) and we understand that legislation is in the works to raise the cap in the near future, hopefully in May.
Reducing the “match”: Clearly many organizations are unable to purchase enough tickets not because of the cap, but because of the cost. We’ve begun push for the tickets to be priced at less than 20% of face value, and Councilmember Upthegrove has expressed willingness to have this conversation. We don’t have any firm commitment yet, though, so we need your help. If the cost of the tickets is a burden for your organization, please address this issue in the survey (see below)!
For the future
Card-based solutions: One thing that has emerged clearly through this campaign is that for many low-income, no-income and homeless people, acquiring enough tickets to meet their transportation needs is a time-consuming and frustrating daily process. Although some need for single-use tickets will remain, many people could be better served by an unlimited monthly ORCA (or ORCA LIFT) pass, or a card that could be refilled by social service organizations at a deep discount. We have suggested this to Metro and to councilmembers and they have expressed a willingness to explore options.
What you can do
Take the survey by Friday, May 6: King County created an online survey of organizations that distribute the tickets, to help them assess the program and make decisions about raising the cap and reducing the match. The deadline was April 8, but since the word seems not to have got out to everyone, they have opened it back up till May 6. If you submitted a response between April 8 and April 25, it was not received (even though the survey still appeared to be live), so please fill it out again! The survey can be found at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/B73JFLB
Stay in touch:Transit Riders Union will continue working with the Coalition on Homelessness, but if you’d like to get direct communications on this specific issue from TRU, email or call Katie Wilson (contact info below) and introduce yourself.
Contact: Katie Wilson, General Secretary | 206-781-7204 | email@example.com
Transit Riders Union | P.O. Box 20723 | Seattle, WA 98102
Sound Transit is on the brink of voting on whether or not to implement a low-income fare for their system. The Coalition on Homelessness has joined with Transportation Choices Coalition, OneAmerica, Puget Sound Sage, Futurwise, the Housing Development Consortium, and Transit Riders Union in support of the expansion of the ORCA LIFT program to all routes in Snohomish, Pierce, and King Counties, as well as implementing a low-income fare on the Sounder Train. Check out our joint letter!
There are mutiple fare change options being discussed and you can view more details here. We support the option that implements a low-income fare for ALL routes in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties. Additionally, we support having a low-income fare on the Sounder train. Read Hillary’s public comment below and make sure to read our joint letter to the Sound Transit board here.
The Sound Transit Board will vote on Thursday 11/19/2015. Public comment is technically closed but you can view the results of public comment here. There will also be public comment taken at the Board Meeting 11/19/2015 at the Ruth Fisher Boardroom at Union Station (401 S. Jackson St, Seattle, WA 98104).
Here is what Hillary shared at the public hearing on November 5:
Hello, my name is Hillary Coleman, Mobilization Coordinator at the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, and here today on behalf of our Coalition’s member organizations to encourage you to serve Sound Transit riders across the entire system by expanding ORCA LIFT to reach riders in King, Snohomish, and Pierce Counties.
We are thrilled to see Sound Transit poised to take this very positive step to make transit more affordable and accessible to current and new riders. I echo much of what has been shared both in comments today, and in the joint letter from Transportation Choices Coalition, OneAmerica, Puget Sound Sage, Futurwise, the Housing Development Consortium, Transit Riders Union, and the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness.
REGIONAL & EQUITABLE Sound Transit is in a unique position in that it serves King, Snohomish and Pierce County residents. From an equity standpoint, Option 2 (expand low-income fare to all routes in King, Snohomish, and Pierce Counties) is the strongest proposal because it will benefit riders in all three counties. Doing so will harmonize fare structures across the region and make transit more accessible to all.
We can’t have a second class system in some places and a first class system in others. We need people to be able to use a low income fare across the entire region, not solely for buses operated within King County, a limit option 1 makes.
As is mentioned on the sound transit website, one of the reasons to consider implementing a low-income fare is that “Sound Transit aims for regional consistency in considering low-income and transit-dependent riders.” Without offering a low-income fare to riders on all routes in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties, we cannot achieve regional consistency. There are homeless and low-income people in all cities served by Sound Transit, and we must work to ensure that each qualified community member has access to a low-income fare; this includes working with agencies in all three counties to distribute ORCA LIFT cards.
FEEDBACK & STORIES Last June the Coalition on Homelessness met with representatives from agencies who work in partnership with King County Metro to distribute ORCA LIFT cards and they shared with us why they love ORCA LIFT:
We are helping so many people, plus connecting them with other resources
I love helping people save money
We all need to get where we’re going
Transportation is vital for everyone’s health and well being
It makes the bus affordable
It creates and opens opportunities
A Coalition friend shared the following story with us that shows the importance of ORCA LIFT for community members. “On my bus this morning, a young woman got on and told the driver she had the new Orca LIFT pass, and asked if it was really just $1.50. He said yes, and she seemed relieved. They had a short, nice exchange – the driver said something like, that makes a difference doesn’t it, and she answered it *really* does.”
As has been mentioned by others here today, it is important to work with community organizations who provide services to people who will qualify for the low-income fare, similar to the current King County Metro Orca Lift model. Natalia from the YWCA just shared with you the success they are having, and the difference Orca Lift makes in their clients’ lives. This is a good example of how to partner with the community.
Adopting ORCA LFIT across the entire Sound Transit system will greatly help low-income and homeless riders be able to access jobs, school, education, family, and healthcare throughout the region.