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Human services agencies receive subsidized bus tickets from Metro Transit Incentive Program

Thanks to the generosity of King County residents, more than 95,000 subsidized bus tickets will be distributed to community human service agencies helping homeless persons in Seattle and King County as part of King County Metro’s Transit Incentive Program. These tickets make it possible to fulfill the requests received by King County last week from human service agencies serving the homeless to assist low-income riders for the remainder of the year.

“Residents across King County have shown their compassion for those most in need by donating their bus tickets to our innovative human services bus ticket program, helping people who are homeless travel safely to their jobs, shelter sites, medical appointments and the other services they need,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.

The funding, which augments the $1.8 million Metro already contributes each year for discounted tickets, is available as part of a package of congestion reduction measures approved by the King County Council last year. One of those measures gave households registering their vehicles eight bus tickets or the option to donate those tickets to the King County Human Service Reduced Fair Ticket Program. The package averted a 17 percent reduction in Metro’s system over the next two years.

“I'm pleased the residents of King County donated these bus tickets to the most vulnerable and disenfranchised members of our community,” said Council Chair Larry Gossett. "The homeless will continue to be able to use our bus system to get to their jobs, appointments, and shelters safely."

The tickets will help riders who need them most as Metro Transit eliminates the downtown Ride Free Area and transitions to a pay-on-entry system on Sept. 29.

“The people with the least ability to pay transit fares are often the ones who need public transportation the most, so this addition to the reduced fare transit ticket program will help homeless and low income individuals weather the loss of the Ride Free Area and get to jobs and services,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips, Chair of the Transportation, Economy, and Environment Committee. “I was proud to advocate for these tickets to be made available on behalf of SHARE and other human service providers, and I thank the people of King County who donated these tickets when they renewed their car tabs.”

King County is awarding subsidized bus ticket funding to the following agencies: Catholic Community Services, Child Care Resources, Compass Housing Alliance Renton/Shoreline, Eastside Winter Shelter, Heroes for the Homeless, St. Stephen Housing Association, Seattle Drug and Narcotic Center (Seadrunar), Seattle Housing and Resource Effort (SHARE), Sophia Way - Sophia’s Place, and Youthcare. Additional tickets will be awarded to agencies by the City of Seattle.

“Tough choices have been made to balance Metro’s budget and deliver efficient service,” said Councilmember Joe McDermott. “Making these tickets available is part of our efforts to reduce the effects of the end of the Ride Free Area on our community’s most vulnerable population.”

"As the former director of an emergency services organization, I know that access to public transit is vital to helping low-income individuals get to where they need to go," said Councilmember Bob Ferguson. "With the downtown Ride Free Area going away, these additional bus tickets will help make sure people can get to work, appointments, and other services."

King County is also exploring additional opportunities to improve public transportation accessibility for low income individuals. Legislation expected to be acted on next week calls for the County Executive to convene an advisory committee to identify and review options, including the possibility of creating a low income fare. The Executive joins Councilmembers in supporting efforts to find long-term solutions to transportation mobility for homeless and other vulnerable populations.

The Reduced Fare Bus Ticket Program was established in 1993, with funds for discounted bus tickets split between the City of Seattle and King County and awarded through an annual competitive process. Local agencies pay 20 percent of the value of the tickets and Metro contributes the remaining 80 percent to help make vital transportation available to people with very limited incomes.

Agencies may begin purchasing their additional subsidized tickets through Metro immediately. The bus ticket programs are managed by the King County Department of Community and Human Services and the City of Seattle’s Human Services Department. For information on the city’s ticket distribution, contact David Takami, at 206-684-0253. For information on King County’s program call Janice Hougen at 206-263-9089.

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