Reduced fare for low-income riders to be available across all ST services starting March 1

Feb 23, 2016

Qualifying riders encouraged to take action now to sign up for ORCA LIFT

On March 1, qualifying riders on any Sound Transit ST Express bus or Sounder train can pay a new low-income fare. Sound Transit is kicking off efforts to encourage all riders who may be eligible to sign up for the expanded ORCA LIFT program.

“More people in our region can afford to get to work, school and services each day now that ORCA LIFT cards work on all Sound Transit trains, buses and light rail,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. “By making transit service accessible to all, we’re better connecting people to opportunity.”

Sound Transit will provide the fare discount to all riders who pay with special low-income ORCA LIFT cards, expanding a program that is currently available only in King County on Link light rail and Metro bus routes.

The reduced fare will be available to adult riders with incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level — about $23,500 in annual income for an individual. To qualify, a household of four must have an annual household income at or below $48,500.

Qualifying riders will pay $1.50 - $2.75 for ST Express bus trips and $2.50-$4.25 on Sounder depending on the length of the trip. ORCA LIFT fares on Link light rail will remain $1.50.

Meanwhile, Metro’s ORCA LIFT program continues to be very popular with almost 23,000 riders signing up for the program in 2015. Nearly 350,000 trips were taken using ORCA LIFT cards in December alone.

How to qualify for the new ORCA LIFT card

Riders can visit www.orcalift.com to find out if they qualify for the card. They can also visit Public Health – Seattle & King County locations across King County for enrollment assistance.

While all qualified riders are welcome to sign up for ORCA LIFT at existing enrollment locations in King County, new enrollment locations in Snohomish and Pierce Counties will be available soon.

Facts about ORCA LIFT on Sounder and ST Express:

  • The reduced fare will take effect March 1.
  • Riders who qualify must use an ORCA LIFT card and cannot pay with cash. No fee will be charged for a new card or renewal.
  • The eligibility threshold for a person to qualify for the low-income fare is 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, currently $23,540 for an individual.
  • The low-income fare will expire 24 months after the card is issued and qualification must be verified again.
  • The low-income fare will be limited to one card per person. Each card must be registered in the ORCA LIFT system to an eligible adult.