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City Council ponders altering all of Everett Transit’s fares

EVERETT — Everett Transit’s intent to create a low-income fare has the City Council’s general support, but they want to dig into the details before giving a committed yes.
One proposal creates either a $1 fare or $1.25 fare for adult Everett Transit riders who earn up to 200 percent of the federal poverty line , and eligibility for state aid programs would be used to help determine access.
The council became divided when the discussion last week explored making further fare adjustments beyond just creating a low-income fare.
Right now the fares are $1.50 for adults, $1 for youth and 50 cents for seniors. On July 1, the adult fare rises to $2, the youth fare rises to $1.50 and the senior fare stays at 50 cents.
Council members want to evaluate streamlining the fares with a simple $1 / $2 split: $2 for adults and $1 for seniors, for youth and the new low-income fare.
Increasing the senior rate was a key sticking point: Council members such as Judy Tuohy said they want to hold the senior fare at 50 cents. The senior rate was just increased to 50 cents from 25 cents as part of a Jan. 1 fare increase.
The other option is to simply tack on the low-income fare rate, meaning Everett Transit would have four fare price levels for the general public. A decision whether to make the low-income fare $1 or $1.25 wasn’t concluded last week.
Everett Transit is targeting July 1 to introduce the low-income fare in conjunction with the adult fare increase.
Implementing a low income fare by July 1 would
require a council vote no later than April 24. This timeframe is because it will take time for Everett Transit to get the new fare set up within the
regional ORCA card system, Everett Transit director Tom Hingson said.
The discounted fare would only be accessed
using an ORCA card because the card system would be programmed to acknowledge which riders are eligible for the low-income rate. Cash customers would pay full price — the agency doesn’t want to put bus drivers in the uncomfortable position of assessing who’s low-income or not at the bus door.
Half of Everett Transit’s adult riders live under the 200 percent low-income threshold. The figures come from ORCA’s ridership data.
Two-thirds of Everett Transit’s ridership makeup are full-fare paying adults, while about 22 percent are seniors and 12 percent are youth. If the low-income fare is introduced, it’s estimated about one-third of all of the bus system’s riders would qualify for it.
Everett Transit still would have the lowest fares in the Puget Sound region.
A Regional Reduced Fare Permit through the ORCA card also exists for some seniors and disabled people.
Community Transit, meanwhile, is working to introduce a low-income fare this July at half the regular fare, or $1.25 for local buses and $2 for commuter buses.



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