A New Initiative for Low-Income Metro Riders
January 9, 2009 4:15 PM
One of the main concerns raised by those who have opposed the Metro fare increase is its effect on low-income riders, especially those who need Metro to get to work. Now, the truth is that we've kept fare increases well below the rate of inflation. In fact, the cash fare hasn't increased since 2000 while general inflation during that period has been about 30%. So, going from $1.50 to $2.00 on the cash fare really just catches up with almost a decade of inflation. (And fuel prices have gone up 230% since then.) Viewed from that perspective, Metro has really been a bargain.
In addition, in my 2009 budget I doubled the size of the Transit for Jobs program that I created in my budget three years ago. Transit for Jobs gets free bus tickets in the hands of very low-income riders. Even with the fare increase, the doubled program can serve about 70% more people.
Nonetheless, the issue isn't without merit. So, I asked Metro to work with my office and advocates to come up with a new program targeted at the working poor. We worked off a very good draft prepared by Lisa Subeck. And what we'll unveil today is essentially Lisa's idea with some necessary modifciations. It will be a $100,000 program funded by reducing the amount budgeted for the Metro reserve - but still leaving $170,000 in that reserve.
My thanks go out to Lisa, and also Steve Schooler, Nan Cnare, Chuck Kamp and Ray Harmon for their good work in developing the program. Details will be released later today.