Schram: Ride-free zone elimination penalizes poor, homeless

It's one more slap at the homeless; one more poke at the poor.

With King County Metro eliminating its ride-free downtown Seattle bus service this weekend, untold thousands of people are left wondering how they will keep medical appointments, get to a place where they can do laundry or just run general errands.

And agencies that assist the poor and the homeless are also concerned about the burden they must now deal with.

Social service groups are worried that their supply of free ride tickets will be quickly exhausted.

One report points out that the Downtown Emergency Service Center will have to cough up more than $50,000 a year in new downtown bus fares, and that's before doling out assistance to more than 2,000 clients who need help getting to where their mental health or addiction issues can be dealt with.

Metro expects to rake in an additional $2 million a year by eliminating the ride-free zone, a healthy portion of that on the backs of the poor and the agencies that serve them.

Certainly, there will be fewer drunks and druggies on the buses, but I still find the ultimate price too high.

Some accommodations have been made to help mitigate this move, but the end result will be one more obstacle; one more penalty that the poor and homeless will have to pay.


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