t

Sound Transit Board expands low-income fares

To launch pilot project changing fare inspection practices

The Sound Transit Board decided to further reduce costs and increase access to service for people with low incomes, and to confirm 2021 actions to replace fare enforcement officers with ambassadors who will conduct fare inspections, provide education and focus on warnings to reduce fare evasion.

The board on Dec. 17 adopted new, lower fares for low income adults, youths, seniors and people with disabilities on Sounder commuter rail, expanding the low-income ORCA LIFT options already available on Link light rail trains and ST Express buses, according to a Sound Transit news release.

Starting March 1, low income and youth fares on Sounder will reduce from current levels ranging between $4.25 and $2.50 to a flat $1.50 for all destinations. Current fares ranging between $2.75 and $1.50 for seniors and people will disabilities will reduce to a flat $1 for all destinations.

Under a Fare Engagement Pilot Project that will go into effect next year on Link and Sounder, fare ambassadors will be Sound Transit staff members rather than contractor employees, and they will wear new uniforms and receive enhanced training on avoiding bias and de-escalating. Sound Transit will continue the current suspension of issuing citations for non-payment of fares throughout the pilot project. Ambassadors will continue to encourage income-eligible riders to sign up for ORCA LIFT and subsidized annual passes.

By January 2022 the staff will report back to the Board on the pilot project and recommend permanent fare inspection approaches and implementation plans.

As part of Sound Transit’s work to continuously improve, and based on board member and community concerns, the agency set up an internal interdisciplinary workgroup to evaluate current fare enforcement policies, procedures, protocols, and to gather community feedback on where improvements should be made.

As a result of this work, the agency developed a Fare Enforcement Action Plan to achieve the vision of a system where everyone taps, where everyone who has fare media can get to where they want to go, and everyone who needs fare media can get access to it. The action plan outlines multiple steps the agency will take, including:

• Increasing the number of warnings from 1 to 2 in a 12-month period.

• Suspending the practice of calling law enforcement for fare evasion-only situations (for both youth and adults).

• Participating in the income-based fare pilot.

• Expanding communications and public education on how to access and use ORCA cards.

• Developing a youth-focused fare engagement program.

• Allowing riders to complete their trips even if they received a warning or citation.

• Defining parameters to suspend citations and warnings during extreme weather.

• Adding new signage clearly marking fare-paid areas.

The pilot project will inform continuing work to evaluate and clarify long-term approaches for addressing non-payment. Riders with no or low income are at greater risk of not being able to pay citations, ending up in court and possibly becoming involved with collections agencies. The board’s action recognized the impact of criminal penalties or financial hardship caused by collections, including credit damage, stating intent to avoid inequitable and lasting adverse consequences associated with fare evasion.

The board’s action anticipates updating the agency’s Fare Enforcement Policy to reflect the changes already underway and consider recommendations for a new citation resolution process without court adjudication, as well as a lower fine amount that is no more than $50 at such time the agency resumes issuing citations.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in northwest

t
Flu vaccine offers best defense for people this season

State Department of Health recommends getting a shot

Eric Gunderson. COURTESY PHOTO, Washington State Patrol
Trooper Eric Gunderson’s family issues statement about his death from COVID-19

Press release answers inquiries about his vaccination status

Vaccinations taking place. File photo
Inslee: No ‘massive disruptions’ as worker vax rates hit 90%

A surge in vaccinations has eased concern about service slowdowns ahead of a Monday deadline.

Courtesy of King County Police Officers Guild
Office lacks power over King County law enforcement in misconduct investigations

Director Tamer Abouzeid presents OLEO annual report to law and justice committee on Tuesday.

File photo.
Four COVID-19 variants are more likely to cause hospitalization

Four COVID-19 variants are more likely to put you in the hospital,… Continue reading

This Dec. 2, 2020, file photo provided by Johnson Johnson shows vials of the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. Courtesy photo
King County woman dies from ‘rare’ Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine blood clot

The woman received her shot on Aug. 26 and died in early September, according to public health.

Courtesy Photo, King County
New King County program connects homeless people to jobs and housing

Temporary jobs at county parks for $20 to $25 per hour

Courtesy Photo, UW Medicine
Booster shots build onto protection of initial vaccinations | UW Medicine

People 65 years and older among those who qualify for shots

Seattle Children’s Hospital (Courtesy photo)
Seattle Children’s Hospital identifies racial disparities in infections, security response

The healthcare provider did not respond to multiple requests for data used to identify disparities.

T
King County’s unemployment rate lower than most of Washington

South King County has been slower to recover compared to North King County.

File photo/Sound Publishing
Ban on single-use plastic bags in WA begins Oct. 1

Shoppers will have the choice to pay for a reusable plastic or recycled paper bag.