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Free ORCA cards going to Seattle high schoolers this year

Seattle families with a least one high school student can now save up to $540 in trips to school beginning this fall. (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE – Seattle families with a least one high school student can now save up to $540 in trips to school beginning this fall.

For the first time ever, nearly 15,000 Seattle public high school students and Seattle Promise scholars will have access to free year-round ORCA passes thanks to a new piece of legislation signed by Mayor Jenny A. Durkan on July, 10. The ORCA cards will be valid on King County Metro, King County Water Taxi, Seattle Streetcar, Sound Transit, Community Transit, Pierce Transit, Kitsap Transit, and Everett Transit.

“Expanding free ORCA to high school students and Seattle Promise scholars will help young people get to school and their jobs safely while reducing families’ expenses,” Mayor Durkan said. “We have a responsibility to make transit safer, more reliable, and more accessible for all.”

Currently, regular youth transit fares are $1.50 per trip. But, with continued advocacy from Seattle’s youth, in particular students from Rainier Beach High School, free transportation will now become a reality, Durkan said.

“Today’s announcement comes after three years of continued advocacy from students, and I was proud to champion them then and now,” Councilmember Mike O’Brien said. "All students should have access to affordable, reliable and safe transportation options for getting to school and all their activities. They should be able to learn without the burden of travel, and today’s ORCA card announcement does exactly that.”

This new legislation is part of the voter-approved Seattle Transportation Benefit District, which generates about $50 million each year to meet the demands for transit. It was approved in a unanimous 8-0 vote.

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