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.