Travis County commissioners approve subsidized transit pass program, more than tripling scope

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Travis County commissioners approved—and greatly expanded the scope of—a subsidized Capital Metro transit pass program for the fifth consecutive year at its Feb. 19 meeting.

The program falls under the 2019 Transit Empowerment Fund and allows accepted applicants to purchase deeply discounted Capital Metro bus and commuter passes.

The fund, which was established in 2011 through a partnership between the region’s public transportation provider Capital Metro and a coalition of more than 100 nonprofit organizations, works to offset rising fare costs for low-income individuals.

Travis County residents who are at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level—which includes one-person households earning $18,735 or less and four-person households earning $38,625 or less—and are transit dependent are eligible.

The passes may only be used by recipients to seek employment, get to work, obtain basic life necessities, follow court orders and gain access to health care.

Capital Metro requested 4,500 total passes: 2,000 monthly, 1,500 weekly and 500 local daily passes as well as 250 monthly and 250 weekly commuter service passes.

This request includes more than triple the number of passes—1,468—the department distributed in the past year.

It opted not to apply for no-cost bus passes as part of its application to the county this year, in the hopes of not competing with smaller nonprofit organizations in Travis County that rely on such passes to serve their clients.

The combination of local and commuter passes allow the department to serve both residents in the urban core and those living outside of the city of Austin.

The cost of this program is $32,885. Passes will be distributed by the county’s health and human services department.

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Emma Freer
Emma Freer began covering Central Austin for Community Impact Newspaper in 2017. Her reporting focuses include employment and economic development. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School in 2017.
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