Last Thursday, Community Transit announced a proposal for a low-income fare on CT buses.
The proposal would establish a low-income fare of $1.25 on local buses and $2.00 on inter-county commuter buses.
Public comments are being accepted through March 8. A public hearing will be held on March 7. The link above provides several media through which to ask questions and submit comments. The CT Board is scheduled to vote on the proposal April 4.
If approved, the fares would take effect on July 1.
CT would be the second agency for which a low-income fare “can save you 50% or more on transit fares” is actually true on all its services. The first is Kitsap Transit.
CT’s low-income fare would operate through the ORCA LIFT program. To qualify, one’s household income would have to be 200% or less of the federal poverty level. Details for administering card distribution remain to be worked out, but would primarily be through human service agencies.
As is the case with the other ORCA transit agencies’ low-income fare programs, the discounted fare would only be available through loaded fare product on an ORCA LIFT card. But the fares thusly paid would be good for two hours of transfer credit on all ORCA-accepting agencies, except Washington State Ferries, which does not accept inter-agency transfers or passes.
CT would be the first ORCA agency not to match its low-income fare to its youth fare. The youth CT fare is $1.75 on local buses and $3.00 on commuter buses. Instead, CT would match its low-income fare to its Regional Reduced Fare Permit (for riders 65+ or with qualifying disabilities) fare, which, by federal law, is required to be no more than half the regular peak fare, at least during off-peak hours. As a result, CT would be giving ORCA LIFT cards to youths 6-18 who qualify by way of their family’s household income. Kitsap Transit has simply consolidated all its reduced fares to be identical for each service.
The fare revenue hit for CT is estimated at up to $1 million annually, out of annual gross fare revenue of $23 million.
The July 1 rollout is designed to be simultaneous with Everett Transit’s next fare increase, for which a low-income fare is under consideration by the city council. The current ET fare proposal would set its low-income fare at $1.50
Starting July 1, assuming passage of both fares and the Seattle Center Monorail completing the process of joining the ORCA pod in time, the following low-income fares would be available on ORCA, from cheapest to most expensive:
- $1.00: Kitsap Transit buses, KT local passenger ferries, and eastbound KT Fast Ferries
- $1.25: Community Transit local buses
- $1.50: King County Metro buses, Link Light Rail, ST Express buses, the monorail, Everett Transit buses, and Seattle Streetcars
- $2.00: CT commuter buses
- $2.50-$4.25: Sounder commuter trains
- $3.75: West Seattle Water Taxi
- $4.50: Vashon Water Taxi
- $5.00: Westbound KT Fast Ferries
Within the ORCA pod, the remaining agencies without a low-income fare would be Pierce Transit, which charges a $2.00 regular fare, and Washington State Ferries, which charges much more, different fares by route, and does not accept inter-agency transfers or passes.
Per Deborah Daoust, Seattle Center Director of Communications, “Seattle Center Monorail is working through the ORCA process, and we hope to have ORCA available on the Monorail sometime this year!” Its low-income fare is a required part of its proposal for joining the pod.