King County Metro and Sound Transit are teaming up to promote youth transit ridership and ORCA card use this summer. Both are offering limited-time special discounted fares for youth ORCA card users from June 17 through Labor Day (September 4). The promotion was announced Tuesday.
All youth ORCA card users on King County Metro and Seattle Streetcars will be charged just 50 cents per ride (with a 2-hour electronic transfer window), from the card’s e-purse. Youth cardholders with a monthly pass worth $18 or more will have unlimited rides on Metro and the streetcars.
All youth ORCA card users on Sound Transit services, including all trains, will be charged just $1.00 per ride (with a 2-hour electronic transfer window), from the card’s e-purse. Youth cardholders with a monthly pass worth $36 or more will have unlimited rides on Sound Transit.
Metro is eating the normal $5 youth card fee, and giving out the cards via mail, at its HQ, at various ORCA to-go promotional events, and at sites that distribute the adult low-income ORCA card. The card is available to youth ages 6-18.
Those who receive the promotional card (stamped on the back as such), rather than a youth card that expires on the holder’s 19th birthday, will get to exchange the card, for free, for a youth ORCA card that expires on the holder’s 19th birthday, at Metro HQ. Leftover ORCA product will be transferred to the new card. Promotional cards revert to regular-fare ORCA cards on October 1.
The promotional discounts are only available by using loaded ORCA product, which can be uploaded online (with a delay of a day or two), at an ORCA vending machine (immediately), or at various retailers (immediately).
Up to four riders age 5 and under may ride free with each fare-paying adult.
Metro averages over 400,000 ORCA youth boardings per month during the school year, but less than 130,000 during summer months. Five school districts offer some of their students free ORCA passes that are good only during the school year.
Public response to the promotion could impact future youth fares and the card fee, per King County spokesperson Scott Gutierrez, as Metro is seeing what incentives youth to ride transit and to pay with ORCA product.
Pierce Transit also has a summer youth pass, for $36, covering all Pierce Transit rides from June 1 through August 31. The pass is loaded onto a youth ORCA card.