Santa Clara County lower transit passes for low-income residents

(BCN)

Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese and San Jose City Councilman Sam Liccardo joined a charity group today to announce the start of a two-year pilot program offering discount transit passes for county residents with low incomes.

Cortese and Liccardo each spoke at a brief gathering at Sacred Heart Community Service at 1381 S. First St. in San Jose meant to celebrate the new transit pass program, Cortese spokeswoman Janice Rombeck said.

People Acting in Community Together, a community services agency that has advocated for discounted transit for low-income residents, organized the event, according to Monika Kessling, a PACT spokeswoman.

The Emergency Assistance Network, a group of seven charities in the county, will give out the monthly passes to qualified applicants for $25 instead of $70 charged by the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, VTA spokeswoman Brandi Childress said.

To qualify for the reduced fare, applicants must earn less than 200 percent of the poverty level, Childress said.

The U.S. poverty level for one person is $11,490 or less in earnings per year, according the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ website.

The program was approved Aug. 1 by the VTA’s board of directors at the urging of Cortese, who like Liccardo is a member of the board, Childress said.

The board had earlier rejected Cortese’s proposal, Childress said.

The pilot plan, called the Transit Assistance Program, is funded by a $1.3 million grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Childress said.

The board set aside 24,000 of the $25 passes for qualified low-income people for the next two years, or 1,000 passes each month, Childress said.

The charities to give out the passes include Sacred Heart Community Service, InnVision, Salvation Army, Sunnyvale Community Services, Community Services of Mountain View-Los Gatos, West Valley Community Services and Gilroy-based St. Joseph’s Family.

Kessling said that Sacred Heart and InnVision, both of San Jose, already have started taking applications for the passes.

“They will evaluate the people who apply for it,” Kessling said.

The passes will come as a relief to people with low incomes faced with paying $6 for a one-day pass to take a VTA bus or light rail train, Kessling said.

The VTA currently sells $25 passes to students, seniors and people with disabilities.

(Copyright 2013 Bay City News.  All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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