The King County Council has passed legislation that will now grant young people free year-round public transit.
Dubbed the Free Youth Transit Pass, the measure passed unanimously on July 26 and will now allow all King County residents under the age of 19 to ride for free starting later this Summer. The new system will replace a current fare structure that charges $1.50 for non-discounted youth ages 6-18.
“Zero Youth Fare will open opportunities for so many youths in King County—to jobs, to education, to health, to sports, and to so much more. King County recognizes that mobility is a human right,” said King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay. ”This is an important investment in our youth, our communities, and our futures.”
Under the state’s recently adopted Move Ahead Washington package, King County Metro is now eligible for an estimated $31.7 million in grant funding. This revenue far exceeds the roughly $10 million in annual fares collected from youth under age 19.
Metro will now begin developing a program to distribute ORCA cards across King County and will launch an information campaign based on school and community outreach. Any youth, including students, who currently have an ORCA card can hold onto it and begin using it in the Fall as their Free Youth Transit Pass. Any expiration date on the card will be extended.
“Free youth transit passes on Metro transit means more King County youth will gain the independence and skills to travel to school and regular activities, explore new destinations across King County, and visit with friends – all without needing a ride from parents or caregivers. Starting in September, everyone under 19 years of age can enjoy this newfound transit freedom at no cost,” said King County Council Chair Claudia Balducci.
Transit users can sign up at www.myorca.com.