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: fares@soundtransit.org
  • 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.

  1. How about free rides for Everyone, including the adult Taxpayers who supported the ST3 Fiasco? And I don’t Get this proposal, since I see regular school buses all over the place; are they to be cancelled and the school routes done by Sound Transit?? OR, will kids need to be chauffeured to park-n-rides, and then Sound Transit will drive them to their school?? Who dreamed up this unnecessary, clueless idea? This proposal indicates either: (1) Sound Transit is Overflowing with taxpayer $$$ dollars; AND/OR (2) Sound Transit will Demand MORE of our tax dollars to provide these “free” rides for children. I do Not trust Sound Transit after the mismanaged ST3 ripoff! We Taxpayers are ALREADY paying through the eyeteeth for ST3, and that Inept situation will not be COMPLETED in my lifetime, as I insisted would happen back when ST3 was voted on. WHY would we trust you Now?!? This proposed policy change is Not Needed, especially since you state that there will Not Be any expected ridership increase.. So What is the Reasoning and Rational?? Please just Back Off.

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