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Seattle Lowers Transit Fares for Low-Income Residents

Joining Chicago, Cincinnati, Denver, and Kansas City, Seattle now offers reduced bus fares to low-income residents. Some worry the program entrenches class differences and doesn't truly aid social mobility.
May 14, 2015, 2pm PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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David Wilson

For Governing magazine, Daniel Luzer reports on a new program out of King County, Washington in which low-income residents will pay $1.50 rather than the usual $2.75 to ride the Metro bus. The intent is to lower barriers keeping the very poor away from jobs. 

The public reaction has been mixed. "'The point of public transportation,' says Katie Wilson of the Transit Riders Union, a Seattle group working to improve transit in the city, 'is to provide affordable transportation -- for everyone.'" With rents on the rise, a two-tiered system might prop up the idea of 'two Seattles,' even on the bus. 

Besides, residents who qualify may not even elect to sign up: "A decade after San Francisco introduced its program, fewer than 6 percent of riders participate, even though 20 percent of Bay Area residents live below the poverty line."

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Published on Friday, May 1, 2015 in Governing
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