Seattle’s Youth ORCA program began thanks to the efforts of Rainier Beach High School students. In 2015, students at the school led a march and a town hall, to raise awareness about the 2-mile walk zone for school district-issued ORCA cards. These activities led City Council to set aside $1 million annually for five years from the Seattle Transportation Benefit District for Youth ORCA.
In 2016, the program reached a milestone – making 3,000 cards available to high school students!
The Youth ORCA program distributes ORCA cards to high school students enrolled in Seattle Public Schools that live less than 2 miles from their school. Program participants must also be income-eligible. This is the first full school year that the Youth ORCA program is in operation (September 2016-June 2017). The program has distributed more than 2,000 ORCA cards this academic year.
A Youth ORCA card provides free transit for the entire school year. Cards are valid for King County Metro, Sound Transit, King County Water Taxi, Community Transit, Pierce Transit, Everett Transit, Kitsap Transit, and Seattle Streetcar.
As of January 2017, program participants saved $200,000 on 132,000 transit trips.