By Robert Betts, Marin Transit Director of Operations and Planning, and Joanna Huitt, Marin Transit Mobility Planner
Transportation connects us to work, education, medical needs, recreation, social engagement, and other important facets of day to day life. Many of us are fortunate to have the physical and financial means to be selective about how we travel. We may not think about what life would be like for us without the ability to drive, bike, or walk.
Marin’s population is aging, life expectancy continues to increase, and more residents are considering their mobility options as they age. Fortunately, Marin residents have a wealth of transportation options for older adults offered by public transit, nonprofit, and private agencies.
The local public transit provider, Marin Transit, offers a suite of programs under the Marin Access umbrella of services specifically designed to meet the needs of older adults and persons with disabilities.
ADA paratransit requires proof of disability to use, while many others are available to anyone regardless of disability. These include subsidized taxi programs, on-demand micro transit, community shuttle fixed route services, dial-a-ride, and volunteer driver programs. For information on all of these program, call or email the Marin Access Travel Navigators at 415.454.0902 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Marin Transit recognizes that many older adults in Marin have limited financial means, especially those in need of transportation services. To address this challenge, Marin Transit offers riders over 65 a 50 percent discount on all shuttle and fixed route services. The per trip cost for these services is just $1.00. That low fare will take travelers to and from anywhere transit operates in the County. The fare for a door-to-door trip on paratransit is just $2.00, again anywhere in the Countywide service area. Additional subsidies are offered on paratransit for those who qualify as low-income. These low fares have not changed for over 15 years!
Marin Transit staff recognize the need to expand programs, invest in technological advancements, and update fare and eligibility thresholds. The Board of Directors recently reviewed a draft proposal to revise fare policies and update eligibility criteria for Marin Access programs and the Low-Income Fare Assistance program for seniors and those with disabilities. The proposal includes simplifying eligibility thresholds for most programs to be uniformly age-based (65 and older).
Other changes affect the low-income fare assistance program with a proposal to expand it to include those who qualify for Medi-Cal and grant riders $20 in ride credits per month for use on any Marin Access services and a free fixed route transit pass.
The final element of the proposal focuses on raising fares over a few years to match the cost of providing services at the premium level of service compared to offerings in the rest of the Bay Area.
On November 4, 2019, the Board of Directors will consider a request to set a public hearing on changes to the fares and to begin a formal public participation process. The Board will consider Board adoption of the final fare change proposal in January 2020. If approved, new fares and eligibility thresholds will start on July 1, 2020. To learn more about the proposed changes and opportunities to provide comment, please visit www.marintransit.org/farepolicy2019.