The Business Times

Seattle targets inequality - on public transit

Its transit system, which is starting a project pricing tickets based on passengers' income, is being closely watched around the nation

Published Sun, Mar 1, 2015 · 09:50 PM
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SeaTac, Washington

ON Sunday, the county transit system for the Seattle metropolitan area began hurtling down a road that few cities have travelled before: pricing tickets based on passengers' income.

The project, which is being closely watched around the nation, gives discounts on public transportation to people whose household income is no more than 200 per cent of the federal poverty level - for instance, US$47,700 or less for a family of four under the 2014 guidelines. The problem it addresses is that many commuters from places like SeaTac, an outlying suburb, are too poor to live in Seattle, where prices and rents are soaring in a technology-driven boom. If these commuters are pushed out so far that they cannot afford to get to work or give up on doing so, backers of the project said, Seattle's economy could choke.

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