The King County Council has unanimously approved a new, income-based fare program for Metro that has the potential to serve up to 54,000 residents.

Set to go into effect by mid-year, the program will provide free bus passes for qualifying King County residents with incomes at or below 80 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $21,000 for a family of four. Those who already qualify for other low-income state programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Supplemental Security Income will also be eligible for the passes.

“Unfortunately, for many in our community the cost of transit is a barrier to being able to get or keep a job, get an education, and access healthcare,” stated council member Jeanne Kohl-Welles, co-sponsor of the legislation. “Too many of our most vulnerable neighbors living on the margins are being impaired by a lack of affordable access to mobility. This program removes the burden of a fare that they cannot afford to help them take a step toward living life to its fullest potential. I look forward to getting this program up and running and expanding it soon so even more people in need are able to take advantage of free or subsidized public transit.”

Participants will receive ORCA LIFT cards loaded with a pass that covers rides on Metro buses, Access vans, Seattle streetcars, King County Water Taxi, Via shuttles, and Trailhead Direct. The pass would not fully cover fares on other regional transit, but in some cases will offer a discounted fare.

Thumbnail photo courtesy King County Metro Transit via Facebook