TriMet moves forward on launch of low-income fare program aimed for July 1, 2018

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TriMet’s Board of Directors approves ordinance to allow people of low income to qualify for reduced fare

TriMet plans to launch a new low-income fare program on July 1, 2018. This comes after the TriMet’s Board of Directors, on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018, approved changes that clear the way for those who meet a low-income designation to qualify for an Honored Citizen Fare. TriMet’s Honored Citizen fare is currently $1.25, which is half the cost of an Adult Fare.

The passage of House Bill 2017 during the last legislative session provided a dedicated funding source for a low-income fare program. Prior to that, TriMet spent several years researching a sustainable approach for such a program and, in coordination with Metro, convened a task force to begin development of a low-income fare program. The task force consisted of local elected officials, representatives of community-based organizations and other stakeholders. Their work has helped TriMet fast track development of the program less than a year after the funding was determined.

“Access to transit is access to jobs, schools, services and opportunities,” said TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane. “TriMet has a long history of making transit accessible for all in our community including seniors, riders who have disabilities and those facing financial challenges.”

Since 2012, TriMet’s current Access Transit programs – the Fare Assistance Program and Fare Relief Program – have provided millions of dollars in grants and discounted fares to nonprofit organizations that assist those who are struggling financially.

“The low-income fare program is a natural extension of our Access Transit programs and we are excited to make this available for riders who need it most,” said McFarlane.

Low-income fare program qualifications

Individuals who earn up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level will qualify for the low-income program. Under current federal poverty guidelines, individuals earning an annual income up to $23,760 would qualify for the program, as would a family of four with earnings up to $48,600.

Those interested in the low-income fare must register and once their eligibility is confirmed, they will receive an Honored Citizen fare card.

Participants will be able to purchase Adult Fare single use and day passes at half cost and Adult Fare monthpasses at a cost of 72-percent less than the price of a standard pass.

Next steps

Over the next few months, TriMet’s low-income fare project team will work to build out the new program’s database, registration process, outreach and marketing plan and community and rider training materials.  Because TriMet will not determine eligibility, the team will work to establish eligibility certification sites throughout the tri-county area where interested riders can go to sign up for the program.

TriMet will hold a series of information and orientation sessions about the new program with nonprofits and regional social service providers to broaden outreach and community engagement efforts.

TriMet will collaborate with community partners to beta test the program on a limited basis later this spring with the aim to launch the Transit Assistance Program on July 1, 2018.

Making Transit Better

Launching our low-income fare program is just one of the ways TriMet is Making Transit Better and more accessible.  We are also adding bus service, improving system reliability, renovating our oldest MAX stations, creating a fairer citation process, enhancing safety and planning for the future to address transit needs along our region’s most congested corridors.