Sound Transit asks public to weigh in on proposed free youth fares

Photo courtesy Sound Transit

Sound Transit is asking for public feedback on a proposed policy change to implement free fares for passengers age 18 and younger.

The Sound Transit Board is expected in July to consider a proposal to make fares free for youth. The change would be implemented by Sept. 1, 2022, before the start of the school year.

The public input period for this proposed policy change runs through June 26, and the board will receive a summary report of the feedback.

There are three ways to participate:

  • By email:
  • By phone: 206-717-9077, TTY Relay 711
  • At a public hearing June 16 at 9:30 a.m. Comments can be given either in person at Union Station or virtually through WebEx

You can find more information here.

Last March, the Washington State Legislature passed the Move Ahead Washington transportation package. This package uses grants to incentivize all Washington state transit agencies to adopt a free-fare policy for riders under 19 years old.

The new policy will be implemented in partnership with other regional transit agencies to create a seamless experience for riders. Youth will be encouraged to use an ORCA card when riding. No youth will be turned away or penalized if they do not have an ORCA card, and no personal information will be collected. Regional ORCA partners are currently analyzing the best methods to distribute ORCA cards to youth.

Sound Transit said it doesn’t anticipate a significant change in overall ridership, but noted that other transit agencies with similar programs have seen many positive changes for youth riders:

  • An increase in affordability for youth and families who use transit
  • Increased youth access to activities outside of school, such as medical appointments, after-school activities, or jobs
  • Increased use by youth-related programs, such as using transit for school field trips
  • Increase in graduation rates for students with free fares
  • Normalizing the use of transit
  • Youth riders continue to ride into adulthood and encourage others, such as friends and family members, to do the same

Learn more here.

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