How will Metro’s low-income fare work? New details today

While other potential changes for Metro next year aren’t yet finalized, two things are certain – a reduced fare for low-income riders will take effect on the same day as a 25-cent general fare increase. Today, King County Executive Dow Constantine announced how it’ll work, based on recommendations from a task force:

*The reduced fare will take effect March 1, 2015, and will be $1.50 a ride.

*Riders who qualify must use an ORCA card and cannot pay with cash. No fee will be charged for a new card or renewal. A $5 fee will be charged to replace a lost or stolen card.

*The eligibility threshold for a person to qualify for the low-income fare is 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, currently $23,340 for an individual.

*Eligibility must be re-verified every other year. The low-income fare will expire 24 months after the card is issued.

*After expiration, it can be used as a regular adult fare card.

*The low-income fare will be limited to one card per person. Each card must be registered in the ORCA system to an eligible adult.

You can read the full announcement here.

15 Replies to "How will Metro's low-income fare work? New details today"

  • cj August 14, 2014 (12:57 pm)

    With out some kind of fair enforcement I don’t think this will really slow down the slip in the back non payers. I love my orca card but keep asking my self how they know who pays? My guess is that the fare enforcement people were supposed to be more often and frequent and that maybe the funding just isn’t there now? Sooner or later I worry that Metro will suffer enough loss leading to even more cut backs of service. I support any effort to aid people in riding when times are tough though. Ty metro for that.

  • W August 14, 2014 (1:00 pm)

    “…the fifth fare increase for Metro riders since 2008. In that time, off-peak fares will have increased by 100 percent.”

    I can’t think of any other thing that has increased 100% in cost since 2008.

    Are they still doing the service cuts on top of the increase? Or was the increase to prevent the cuts? Do the increases simply fill holes from dwindling state funding, or are they funding increased budgets? or are they just funding the fare reduction for low income passengers? If it is the last one, I think the funding for the low-income fare should come from sources other than fellow passengers. ie. business profit tax on the employers who are paying those people less than 23k a year.

    • WSB August 14, 2014 (1:05 pm)

      There is still a certain amount of service cut expected next year in March, but what will be cut hasn’t been finalized yet – the county agreed to go through a budgeting cycle to take a look. And as for what would have been the dramatic West Seattle cuts, axing a few routes, in September of NEXT year, those were also put on hold pending budgeting review. That’s my dramatic simplification of those decisions made between council and exec in the past few months. – TR

  • JoB August 14, 2014 (1:14 pm)

    hmm.. fares doubled since 2008
    too bad service hasn’t kept pace

  • ?? August 14, 2014 (2:38 pm)

    I wiah there was some kind of id to go along with this special orca many times.I have been approached by people thay want to tickets.I know offices give to clients…maybe soon these same individuals will br selling orca cards..I am finding.driving a lot cheaper than bus these days.I can spend easily $8 round trip for me and my 2 kids to ride bus to burien and back my little honda….idk?? $1 ???

  • anonyme August 14, 2014 (3:35 pm)

    What happens to senior/disabled fares?

  • JoB August 14, 2014 (3:43 pm)

    i too would like to see a photo on the reduced fare Orca cards…
    so they can’t be so easily stolen from the people who need them
    i may be wrong but i am pretty sure that reduced fare passengers currently have to have a photo ID to get reduced rates

  • newnative August 14, 2014 (4:11 pm)

    Wow, I am within a hundred dollars of the low income status but just above. Lucky for now I can walk to work. Metro on a daily basis is too expensive.

  • Timing August 14, 2014 (5:00 pm)

    It’s time for tax payers to wake up and take a critical look at executive salaries, union contracts and pensions are effecting the increase in pricing and decrease in services! Over 80% of Metro’s budget are tied to those three programs, not much left on the bone to offer a quality public transportation that we are asked continually to fund more!

  • miws August 14, 2014 (5:05 pm)

    ….i am pretty sure that reduced fare passengers currently have to have a photo ID to get reduced rates


    Yes, the reduced fare ORCA Card has the person’s photo on it.


    anonyme, totally going on a semi-reliable memory here, but I seem to recall that the senior/disabled are either staying the same, or going up by .25.



  • Noelle August 14, 2014 (5:58 pm)

    METRO is so bad with their budgeting I am shocked they are trying to do this.

  • AEP August 14, 2014 (6:44 pm)

    Hey, Timing:
    It’s not unusual for a service-heavy business to have 80% (or more) of their budget go to salary. I work for a pared-to-the-bone nonprofit. Over 80% of their budgeted expenses go to salary. Because…it’s people who make it work!

  • Ex-Westwood Resident August 15, 2014 (7:37 am)

    I can’t think of any other thing that has increased 100% in cost since 2008.
    FYI, the price of a gallon of gas has increased OVER 100% since 2008.
    IMO this is just what is needed for the low income users of Metro. Now if we can increase, oh say double, the fare of those that make over 200% of the poverty level…

  • Timing August 15, 2014 (8:15 am)


    I participate in capitalism and attended business school. Your math equation is a proven way to fail in business or non profit. I simply want people to understand where Metro’s budget goes and that taxpayers are not the ATM for there inability to manage tax payers hard earned money.

  • flimflam August 15, 2014 (8:31 am)

    how can this work within the budget – I thought metro was about to collapse or something unless we vote to give them more money?

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