Thank you to the bus drivers who are risking their own health providing essential services to our community! I also applaud Council Member (Kate) Burke’s advocacy for fare free transit. Spokane should engage in a community discussion about fare-free buses. Great cities are built on great transit systems.
Been stuck behind a bus? Vehicle drivers and bus riders appreciate that when passengers don’t have to stop to pay fares, the buses run faster. Fare-free systems are already working in Olympia, Corvallis and in Kansas City, Missouri. Boston, Los Angeles and Salt Lake City are also exploring Fare Free as a means to reduce road congestion and improve air quality.
STA already offers reduced fare options for people over 65, on Medicaid or with disabilities. According to the Spokane Trends website, in 2018 less than 8% of seniors lived in poverty while almost 15% of our youth lived in poverty. In these extremely challenging times, Spokane’s vulnerable families need the immediate help of a low-income fare option. If a parent takes two school-age children by bus to a local store to shop for shoes, she will pay $12 for round-trip bus fare. In Spokane, the average cost per home-cooked meal is about $2. A bus trip to buy shoes for two children costs 6 meals!
Transit lines are lifelines. With $90 million federal CARES dollars coming to Spokane County, a reduced-fare option for low-income families and workers is possible and necessary.