Youth ages 18 and under can soon ride for free on all Sound Transit transporation beginning Sept. 1.
On July 28, the Sound Transit Board of Directors unanimously approved a new policy allowing free fares for kids and teens. Previously, the reduced youth fare was $1.50.
“Today’s decision will not only increase affordability for youth and families, but it will increase their opportunities as well,” said Kent Keel, University Place council member and Sound Transit board chair. “Free fares mean easy access not just to schools, but to jobs, after-school activities and youth-related programs. It also introduces a new generation to the habit of a becoming lifetime riders of transit.”
Sound Transit said an ORCA card or other fare media are not required for youth to ride free and youth will not be turned away or penalized if they do not have an ORCA card. No personal information will be collected either, the agency added.
Youth ORCA cards issued by schools during the 2021-2022 academic school year will continue to work through June 30, 2023. There are 77,000 Youth ORCA cards that will automatically provide card holders with access to the free fare and youth with a Youth ORCA Card are encouraged to use it when riding, according to Sound Transit.
Starting in 2021, kids and teens will be directed to get a Free Youth Transit Pass which allows them to tap a card, or their smartphone in the future, to access transit across the region for free.
Youth without a Free Youth Transit Pass may be asked to show a student ID or proof of age and will be provided with information about how to get a Free Youth Transit Pass, according to Sound Transit.
The policy allowing free fares for kids and teens was prompted by the Move Ahead Washington transportation package passed by the state Legislature last spring, incentivizing all Washington state transit agencies to adopt a fare-free policy for riders under 19 years old.
Recently, the King County Council approved legislation granting free, year-round public transit access people under the age of 19, named the Free Youth Transit Pass.
For more information about how youth can ride regional transit for free, visit info.myorca.com/youth-ride-free/.