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Two young people walk on a platform next to a Link train.
Media Caption
The Sound Transit board is considering an action that makes fares free for passengers 18 and under.

Let us know what you think about free youth fares

Publish Date

We want to hear from you! The comment period is now open to provide feedback on proposed free fares for youth.

In March 2022, 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. 

In July 2022, the Sound Transit board will consider an action that makes fares free for passengers 18 and under on all Sound Transit modes.

Our goal is to implement this change by September 1, 2022, before the start of the school year. 

Providing free fares for youth is estimated to reduce fare revenue by about $147 million over Sound Transit’s financial plan through the year 2046.

This loss is partially offset by the potential for new WSDOT Regional Mobility grant funding, about $60 million through the life of the financial plan.

In 2019, about 6% of Sound Transit riders were youth. 

How will this work? 

This change 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. 

A hand reaches out to tap a black ORCA card on a yellow reader.

Sound Transit does not anticipate a significant change in overall ridership, but 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 

We want to hear from you. 

The public input period for this proposed policy change runs from June 2-26, 2022. Public input will be provided to the board in a summary report. 

There are three ways to provide input: 

  • At public hearing: info TBD

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