King County Spokesperson Scott Gutierrez has provided some additional information relevant to the fare restructure and card fee proposals working their way through the county council process.
One of those pieces of information is the revenue for the county from charging $5 for the youth ORCA card:
Our total card fee revenue for youth cards in 2016 was $125,000. Most of our youth cards — about 17,000 — are issued through school district Passport programs. Another 8,000 cards in 2016 were issued outside of our Passport accounts, so about $85,000 of the total $125,000 is revenue from school districts.
The ORCA LIFT (low-income) card has been free since the program rolled out in 2015, after human service agencies identified charging for the card as a potential barrier. The Regional Reduced Fare Program card fee is $3, but is slated to become free, pending final approval from the county council. The youth card fee has been waived for children whose parents/guardians have qualified for ORCA LIFT.
County Executive Dow Constantine proposed reducing both the regular and youth card fee from the current $5 to $3 back in August. The County Council’s Transportation, Economy, and Environment Committee voted to table that portion of the package at its most recent meeting on October 31, over concerns that the $700,000 that would be forgone annually on card revenue could be better spent on additional service.
The county waived the youth card fee for a period this past spring and summer, while lowering the electronic fare. The county is expected to provide data from this program soon.