(Editor’s note: The following dispatch is from the pen of Patricia Ann, who works part-time with Solid Ground’s Volunteer Resources Department and lives on a limited income.)
Today, Robin Knudsen of Solid Ground’s Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) asked if I knew anything about the changes in King County Metro’s reduced fare passes for seniors and disabled folks. Evidently the Regional Reduced Fare Permit was being discontinued. One of the RSVP volunteers had asked her for information, and she asked me because she knew that I have a Regional Reduced Fare Permit. I had not heard, so I went online and found out that the Monthly/Annual Reduced pass is being replaced with the PugetPass, which will cost seniors and disabled folks $27 a month.
I am fortunate because I paid $3 for the permit and $99 for a full year of monthly passes instead of paying $18 a month, which would have totaled $216 a year. I was able to get the savings because I have a job and do not depend solely on my monthly SSDI check and because I have a credit card. My Reduced Fare Permit is yearly, ending in May. So, I will not have to pay the $27 per month until April. Many of my neighbors at Jefferson Terrace, a Seattle Housing Authority high-rise, are living on very low fixed incomes of $600 to $800 in Social Security payments with no cost of living increase for the third year in a row. This change will be a real hardship for them.
While it is true that the PugetPass will cost less than many other passes, what is missing from this is an understanding of exactly how much money many seniors and disabled folks are living on. An individual living on $700 a month ($8,400 a year) will pay $27 a month ($324 a year) or 3.8% of their income for bus transportation. The increase from $5.50 a month in 2007, to $9 a month in 2008, to $18 a month in 2010, to $27 a month in 2011 is a 409% increase in three years! Fixed incomes have not been rising accordingly!
RSVP’s low-income volunteers who cannot volunteer without transportation assistance will be most affected. RSVP provides partial mileage and bus pass reimbursement to these volunteers who need it the most. This change will stretch limited program resources further, affecting the volunteers’ ability to serve agencies such as Asian Counseling Referral Services (ACRS), Port of Seattle, congregate meal programs, adult day care programs and homeless shelters.
King County Metro Public Disclosure: 206.684.1005