At the January 9th Low-Income fare task force meeting two presenters from Seattle came down to Portland to present on the Seattle low-income fare program, ORCA LIFT. The presenters were Mark Konecny from King County Metro and Daphne Pie from Public Health- Seattle & King County.
Daphne mentioned that from the beginning their program was grounded in equity because of King County Metro raising their fares four times in a three-year time period. These fare increases had the biggest impact on low-income transit dependent folks, and the LIFT program was created to mitigate that impact.
The program is nearing its second year since its implementation. Key takeaways that they mentioned in their presentation include:
- Low-income people in Seattle can register and get their card within 10-15 minutes – important because low-income people’s time is so valuable
- A consent form takes the place of an application form
- During the roll out period, Metro partnered up with 150 organizations, non-profits, and other agencies to inform the public
- Local Government Agencies that already enroll clients to health care, food stamps, and other resources also enroll their clients to the LIFT program without added funding to enroll folks
- Community organizations that work with low-income communities can work with King County and receive funding to help enroll their clients
- To continue to enroll qualified riders, Daphne said that they would cross reference data from where participants had enrolled in and census data of where low-income communities live. This helps them identify gaps and where to increase outreach efforts to continue enrolling them.
We hope that TriMet learns from the lessons from our neighbors up North, along with listening to the recommendations that were outlined in our Low-Income Fare Equity (LIFE) Report. We demand a threshold of 200% of the Federal Poverty Level and for TriMet to offer the same discount as the Honored Citizen fare.
The next task force meeting is on January 23rd at Metro Council Chambers located at 600 NE Grand Ave., Portland OR 97323 from 1:00-2:30 PM. This meeting will look at cost estimates and what the eligibility thresholds should be. Join us we demand to have the best Low-Income fare possible!