Sound Transit starts $1 fare with ORCA LIFT program

Mar 1, 2023, 12:35 PM | Updated: 12:37 pm

sound transit fare ORCA card, income-based fare, ORCA cards...

On Tuesday, the Sound Transit Board announced that they would be moving forward with a plan to provide cheap and easy access to public transit for those in the community that need it most. (Nick Bowman, MyNorthwest)

(Nick Bowman, MyNorthwest)

At the start of February, the Sound Transit Board announced that they would be moving forward with a plan to provide cheap and easy access to public transit for those in the community that need it most.

Sound Transit officially adopted a $1 fare for ORCA LIFT riders effective March 1, after six months of study and testing.

More than 10,000 ORCA cards distributed for low income residents

“A person’s income should never be a barrier to traveling and accessing opportunities. By formally adopting the $1 ORCA LIFT fare we continue to reduce cost burdens for transit-dependent riders,” said Dow Constantine, Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive. “This change helps individual riders while contributing to healthier and stronger communities.”

ORCA LIFT cards are available to qualifying low-income households, seniors, and those with disabilities. You can check to see if you qualify here.

The cost of this program is estimated to be approximately $25 million through 2046 and is included in the Fall 2022 Long-Term Financial Plan.

Sound Transit conducted public outreach for the program and found that 88% of people who responded to a survey or provided comments at a public hearing supported the $1 fare or further reductions in the fare.

Between August and early December 2022, ORCA LIFT enrollments in Pierce, King, and Snohomish counties increased by 22%, reaching more than 53,000 active customers. Efforts will continue to enroll the approximately 84,000 customers required to reach the goal of 80% of qualified participants.

“Sound Transit Fare Ambassadors are on our vehicles every day, educating passengers about reduced-fare programs like ORCA LIFT and the subsidized annual pass program we participate in with King County Metro,” said Sound Transit CEO Julie Timm. “We still have our work cut out for us to continue to reach deeper into the communities that would benefit the most from increased access to the resources essential for health and wellness, including health care, education, healthy food, and even the region’s stunning natural areas through more affordable transportation options.”

You can apply for a reduced fare card here.

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