Transit riders told the Metropolitan King County Council today that proposed low fares for low-income and disabled people are not low enough. They complained at a hearing about fare increases and a possible April ballot measure to restore transit service.
The public vote would add an annual car-tab fee and higher sales taxes to raise $80 million a year for buses, plus $53 million for roads. In addition, the council is considering raising transit fares by 25 cents and creating a new fare structure, adding a $1.50 fare for low-income and disabled riders. The top fare would be $3.25 for a peak, two-zone adult trip through Seattle and a suburb.
The county council voted unanimously last week to make a taxing district, the first step toward approving the ballot measure, but there is still time to adjust the details.
The ballot measure as written “is going to be a hard sell at best, and it’s a regressive tax,” said Douglas Frechin, a member of Amalgamated Transit 587, a union of bus drivers. Representatives from OneAmerica, which represents immigrants, SHARE, a grass-roots organization of homeless and formerly homeless people, and the Transit Riders Union all spoke about the proposed $1.50 low-income fare, saying that $1 is a more accessible fare.
No one spoke against going to the ballot to raise the funds. Metro has said it will have to cut service by 17 percent if the ballot measure doesn’t pass.