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Seattle Public Middle School students are now eligible for a free unlimited ORCA Card as part of the City’s ORCA Opportunity Program

Mayor Durkan’s Climate Action Executive Order expands the City’s ORCA Opportunity Program, currently providing ORCA Cards to thousands of high school students and Seattle Promise Scholars. 

Seattle Public Schools and the City of Seattle are partnering to provide an additional 8,000 free, unlimited ORCA Cards to Seattle Public Schools middle school students.  ORCA cards are valid through August 31, 2022, and work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

The ORCA card provides no-cost, unlimited transit rides on King County Metro, King County Water Taxi, Seattle Streetcar, Sound Transit, Community Transit, Pierce Transit, Kitsap Transit, Everett Transit, and Seattle Center Monorail, creating a passport to the city and beyond.   

Announced in 2018, ORCA Opportunity will now be available to 24,000 students including 8,000 additional middle school students, 15,000 high school students, and more than 1,000 Seattle Promise students.  

Seattle’s ORCA Opportunity Program is one way we encourage and empower students to use public transit to access schools and services, help reduce traffic congestion near schools, and build a better future for our youngest Seattleites.  

Calling all Seattle Public Schools students taking King County Metro transit!  

Take a look at this King County Metro video with tips on planning your trip and riding to school. Helpful hints can also be found in this Metro Matters blog post

Get your ORCA Card: 

  • High school students: All Seattle Public High School students are eligible for a free, unlimited use ORCA card. Before picking up an ORCA card, all High School students must complete the 2021-2022 Conditions of Use Form. School administrators have the most up-to-date information on when students can pick up a card. 
  • Seattle Promise ScholarsORCA cards are available for all first-year Promise Scholars who complete a registration form and remain active through your second year in the program. 

The City of Seattle is working to create a more resilient, sustainable city. This ORCA Opportunity Program announcement is part of Mayor Jenny Durkan’s Executive Order. Within the Executive Order, the Mayor pledges to evaluate expansion of free transit to all youth under 18, establish the City’s first urban pedestrian zone, and take actions to increase the use of zero-emission vehicles.  

The effects of climate change are undeniable. Changing how we travel is a powerful vehicle (pun intended!) to mitigate these effects.   

Our focus on equity and sustainability and supporting environmentally friendly, reliable travel options means helping everyone in our City. As we recently saw with our ORCA Recovery Cards, expanded transit access opens new travel possibilities. 

In the coming year, we’ll also evaluate opportunities to equitably expand free transit access to all youth in Seattle under 18 years of age. We’ll consider the equity and climate implications of a new or expanded program and engage with youth, centering those from communities in low-income and unhoused families and youth with disabilities.  

“We are building a transit culture in our region by giving our youth a passport to our City. Giving the kids of Seattle a way to and from school and activities is only the beginning. ORCA Opportunity opens doors to using transit to access sporting events, colleges, arts and culture around Seattle,” said Mayor Jenny A. Durkan. “With the opening and expansion of additional clean, rapid transit through the light rail, we can continue to take car trips off the road by making transit free for our youth and low income communities.” 

Mayor Jenny A. Durkan  

“At the Seattle Department of Transportation, we are pleased to work with our partners across the City to take bold climate action. Healthy and equitable transportation begins with our streets, sidewalks, and public space – structures that together equate to over one-quarter of Seattle’s land area. It is our responsibility – as well as our privilege – to advance climate justice.  

We strengthen our efforts today through the Mayor’s pledge to expand transit access to more Seattle students, continuing to expand low-carbon transportation options, and enable priority curb space for zero-emission vehicles. Further, our vision for an equitable and resilient Seattle will serve as our North Star as we develop a long-range multi-modal transportation plan that addresses our most pressing transportation challenges. I am confident that, together, we can more courageously address the climate crisis and continue to bring environmental justice to the forefront of our work.” 

SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe 

“Our shared focus is ensuring every student has safe and reliable transportation to and from school,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “At King County, we are eager to help connect more students to learning and enrichment opportunities. Supporting our youth is a top priority for our county, and I look forward to seeing more students on our buses, light rail, monorail, streetcars, and water taxis.”

King County Executive Dow Constantine 

Seattle Public Schools welcomes the partnership with the Mayor and King County Metro in the distribution of ORCA cards for Seattle Public Schools’ middle school students with transportation to and from school. We appreciate the environmental advantages of Metro buses and Sound Transit Light Rail. We encourage all students to wear masks and follow the bus-riding safety guidelines accessible on the King County Metro website.

Fred Podesta, Assistant Superintendent of Operations, Seattle Public Schools

“We look forward to welcoming Seattle Public middle school students who will now be able to take transit with their free ORCA cards. Transit access is a key to opportunity for so many of our area students. Sound Transit shares Mayor Durkan’s commitment to increasing mobility and opportunities for people across the city and region.”

Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff 

Thank you, Seattle! More than 80 percent of Seattle voters passed the Seattle Transit Measure last November, which funds more frequent, reliable, accessible bus service in Seattle and the ORCA Opportunity Program. Through a 0.15% sales tax (the equivalent of 15 cents on a $100 purchase), Seattle residents have opened the doors to transit for more residents in the community.