AUSTIN (KXAN) — CapMetro officials presented Tuesday two proposed options to limit transit fares and increase access to income-eligible customers.
The first option, fare capping, is a concept designed to limit the number of rides customers pay for on both a daily and monthly basis. Under fare capping, two paid rides on the CapMetro system would make the rider eligible for free rides for the remainder of the day.
For example, if someone rides CapMetro on their morning commute to work and transfers between buses, they would hit their daily cap and ride for free the remainder of the day. That would limit rider fares to $2.50 daily.
Fare capping would also offer a monthly fare cap. Once riders hit 33 single rides within the month, the monthly cap would kick in, and they would have free access to CapMetro services for the remainder of the month. That would limit the maximum amount riders pay to $41.25 a month.
Both daily and monthly fare capping will be offered through an Amp account, an Amp pass or by connecting an Amp account to the CapMetro pass.
For an Amp card, users can load money onto the card via cash or credit at a transit store or participating retailers like Dollar General, CVS, Walgreens, 7-Eleven and Family Dollar. An Amp account is required to track rides and qualify for either daily or monthly caps — paying strictly in cash without using that cash to load an Amp card won’t qualify for fare caps.
If a person is using the CapMetro app, they will have a virtual card they can sync their Amp account to. Once the Amp account is registered within the CapMetro app, users can pay as they go and earn daily or monthly caps through their ridership. They can then reload their account with a credit card and continue riding.
When it comes to daily or monthly caps, users will need to choose between a physical Amp card or the virtual app option. You cannot bounce between a physical card or the app to track daily or monthly rides and cap eligibility.
Equifare is a proposed program available to income-eligible customers, offering discounted fares. If approved, customers can apply for Equifare online or at CapMetro’s transit store.
Once enrolled, they will receive discounted fares through the Amp account. When paired with fare capping, it could add additional savings each month to eligible riders.
Currently, there are two fare categories:
- Standard: Full rate for a transit pass available to local or commuter fares
- Reduced: 50% off the full rate for people ages 65 and older, Medicare card holders, active-duty military personnel and riders with disabilities
If Equifare is approved, it will be added as a third category option alongside standard and reduced fares.
CapMetro officials are looking at the following programs to help determine Equifare eligibility:
- Medicaid program
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
- Children’s Health Insurance Program
- Telephone Lifeline Program
- Travis County Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program
- Medical Access Program
- Supplemental Security Income
- Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing
- Homeless Management Information System
As for program best practices, officials are looking to implement the program based on an honor-based self-verification process and an online application and enrollment process. CapMetro will also use income documents for verification, membership to social service programs and organizations and host pop-up events to connect with potential users.
CapMetro officials will present both programs to the CapMetro board of directors July 25 for consideration. In the meantime, they will continue to host virtual meetings and gather input from advisory groups.