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From homeless to helper: nonprofit leader one of many helping eligible riders get $1 TAP fares on Metro Transit

Krissy Cook is an empathetic listener to people she works with through Fear None, Conquer All, the St Paul nonprofit she founded.

 

Cook’s organization supports and advocates for community members in need. She guides them to resources like employment, housing and food and also assists them in navigating the social service system.

 

A half dozen years ago, Cook’s circumstances were dramatically different; she was unhoused then.

 

During that time, she relied on her TAP pass to make her rides on Metro Transit affordable.

 

Loaded onto her Go-To Card, TAP benefits allowed Cook to ride Metro Transit buses, express buses and light rail trains at a reduced fare, paying $1 for every ride, even during rush hour.

 

“Heck yeah, TAP was very easy for me to get when I needed the help to catch the bus and get around,” Cook recalled.

 

Many of the people Cook works now with also need assistance with transportation, to get them back-and-forth to work, school, shops, medical appointments and other destinations. TAP savings represent a budget-stretching way for them to use public transit.

 

Cook is enthusiastic about pointing the people she serves to TAP benefits. She estimates that working with people through Fear None, Conquer All, she has helped some 300 riders get their TAP discount from Metro Transit.

 

“It really helps. We ride the bus too. No shame in our game!” she said. “Folks call out of the blue every day and they don’t know about this. It’s so easy to apply. We meet up with them or help them fill it out over the phone. When we give them a card it’s got $5 for TAP already loaded on it.”

 

Right now, over half a million metro area residents are eligible for TAP, but only a fraction have enrolled. To help spread the word about the option, Metro Transit has partnered with 130 organizations in the seven county Twin Cities metro area that distribute cards to participants in their programs.  Often times they qualify immediately. Once enrolled, their TAP discount lasts for one year and then they can reapply.

 

 These nonprofit organizations and social service agencies help eligible people apply for the savings. These partners can do what Metro Transit staff cannot – confirm income directly from a tax return or paystub.

 

“"These partner organizations are in the trenches with people in need. They are already doing good work in the community and are ready to amplify our message,” said Andrea Kiepe, TAP coordinator. “They go through the list of resources with people; do they need child care, food, housing? We want to be sure the TAP transit discount is on that list.”

 

Kiepe explained that the nonprofit partners often use the same documentation for benefits and services that are needed to qualify for TAP. Many of the organizations, like Fear None, Conquer All, jump start the transit savings for the people they serve by loading a monetary value on the card.

 

“A lot of these places like to send people out the door with something they can use right away and they might put some money on it so they can  have a discounted ride immediately,” Kiepe said. 

 

People who want to apply for TAP themselves can find assistance at the Transit Centers or can apply online at https://www.metrotransit.org/tap-riders.

 

Individuals with income levels at or below 50% of the Area Median Income or 185% of Federal poverty guidelines or those supported by an organization enrolled in the Eligible Community Organization program are qualified for the TAP reduced fare.

 

“With everything going up, that dollar ride goes a long way for folks,” Cook said. “They don’t have to scramble for change or pay to park. Do the math; it’s great.”

 

 

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