Seattle to charge public-transit riders based on income

Ferry, train and bus trips could cost under £1 for as many as 100,000 commuters Ferry, train and bus trips could cost $1.50 (£.97) for as many as 100,000 commuters

Seattle's transport system has introduced a ticketing system that charges riders based on their income.

The programme - the first of its scale in the US - will provide discounted fares to people whose household income is no more than 200% of the federal poverty level.

The programme could reach 100,000 people, transit officials say.

Proponents say it is was necessary to address inequality after a city tech boom pushed residents into the suburbs.

Expensive public transit systems compounded the problem as workers found they could not afford to get to work.

This means a family of four, whose household income is $47,700 (£31,042) can take a bus, train or ferry ride for only $1.50 (£0.97), more than 50% off peak fares.

"It's people doing really well, and people making espresso for people who are doing really well," Dow Constantine, the King County executive and chairman of the regional transit agency, said of the area's economic make up.

'Everyone is watching'

San Francisco introduced a similar fare programme called Muni Lifeline in 2005 but 10 years later it still applies to less than 6% of their transport system card holders.

The project is being watched closely by other counties and states.

According to the American Public Transportation Association, more than 70% of America's transport systems cut service, raised fares or did both during and after the recession.

"What Seattle has done is what others might consider," Art Guzzetti, vice president for policy at the American Public Transportation Association told the New York Times. "Everyone is watching."

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