Enrollment in TriMet’s low-income fare program goes virtual in response to COVID-19

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New, temporary service lets riders living on a low-income qualify via video chat or fill out an application online, upload supporting documents and receive an Honored Citizen reduced fare card by mail

Many in our community are struggling financially in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. TriMet’s low-income fare program offers some relief, in the form of safe, reliable transportation at a discount of up to 72% off the cost of Adult fare. To continue helping people sign up for the program during this time of physical distancing, we are temporarily opening a virtual application site. Riders can qualify safely and easily using video conference or by filling out a form online and submitting documents online.   

“In addition to the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on the health and well-being of many in our community, it has taken an unprecedented toll on the economy,” said TriMet General Manager Doug Kelsey. “Now, you can enroll in our low-income fare program without leaving your home, so that when you do need to travel, you can ride at a deeply discounted rate.”

Hundreds of thousands of Oregonians have lost jobs as the pandemic forced the closure of restaurants, bars and many other businesses. Those who were living paycheck-to-paycheck before COVID-19 may now be eligible for reduced fare. TriMet accepts unemployment pay stubs as verification of income and can enroll new participants in the program based a calculated estimate of annual income.

Qualifying for low-income fare

TriMet’s low-income fare program is open to Oregonians who are between 18 and 64 years old and live on an income up to double the federal poverty level. Currently that means individuals who earn up to about $25,500 a year qualify. Maximum annual income increases with household size. For a family of four, for example, annual earnings could be as high as $51,500. Applicants must have a government-issued I.D. and proof of income – an income tax return, recent pay stub, Oregon Health Plan card or other qualifying document.

Secure online enrollment options

TriMet works with dozens of community and government partners to make the low-income fare program available to those who need it. Prior to the pandemic, participants would go to partner location to have their identification and income level verified in a confidential setting. With the offices of many agencies closed or limiting hours due to COVID-19, TriMet is offering the following virtual options to qualify:

  • Video conference with an enrollment partner – Worksystems Oregon can enroll residents of Multnomah and Washington counties through video chat. Contact the City of Portland and Multnomah County COVID response line at (503) 766-5696 or the Washington County Workforce COVID response line at (503) 766-5696. They are available between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday.
  • Online application –TriMet is using a secure web form and encrypted database to collect information and supporting documents for any Oregon resident who would like to apply. Visit trimet.org/lowincome to get started.

Qualified participants will receive a personalized Honored Citizen Hop card in the mail within five to ten days. Those who cannot provide a photo online will need to go to the TriMet Ticket Office in Downtown Portland, to pick up their card. The ticket office is open between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and continues to serve riders while maintaining physical distance for visitors during the coronavirus pandemic.

Honored Citizen reduced fare

In addition to riders on a low income, TriMet offers reduced, Honored Citizen fare to seniors 65 and older, as well as to those who are experiencing a mental or physical disability. Honored Citizen cardholders enrolled based on medical eligibility will get a three-month, temporary extension if their card is expiring during Gov. Kate Brown’s stay-at-home order. Contact TriMet at 503-962-2455 or accessible@trimet.org to learn more.

Our service during the COVID-19 pandemic

TriMet is still here for those who need it. So many in our region must use transit to access critical services and get to jobs at hospitals, social service agencies, grocery stores and other essential workplaces. We’re proud to be there for them. We do miss our other riders and look forward to having everyone back on board, but right now, we urge everyone to continue following the state’s guidance and stay home. For more information and updates on our service during the pandemic, go to trimet.org/health