Updates from our Transportation Access Program, which is providing greater access to transit services in Seattle

Community members who participated in a transit field trip for seniors in 2021. Photo: SDOT.

Editor’s Note: If you’re interested in signing up for the Transportation Access Program (TAP) email newsletter, please subscribe online. If you have any questions, you can contact the team at DOT_TAP@seattle.gov.


Quick links:


Hop on the new and improved Solid Ground Downtown Circulator!

Originally launched in 2012 in partnership with Solid Ground, we are excited to announce the rebranding and improved access for the Downtown Circulator! The Downtown Circulator is a free, fixed route shuttle bus that connects riders to health and human services in downtown Seattle. The service is for everyone; no payment or proof of eligibility needed! Service animals are welcome, and the shuttle is ADA accessible. 

Our updated flyer includes information on nearby social service providers and there are new, green shuttle stop signs that have been placed to help riders navigate the Circulator. The flyer is available in 8 languages on our webpage. The shuttle stops at 7 seven locations in the downtown corridor, Belltown, and First Hill. The Circulator currently operates Monday-Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. with shuttles stopping at each location every 30 minutes. If individuals have questions about the service, they can now text the Circulator phone number at (206) 753-4801 to receive information about the service on their mobile device. Please join us in promoting this resource with riders and human service partners. 

For more information, including a link to our updated and translated flyer, please visit our new Downtown Circulator webpage. 

The Downtown Circulator runs along 7 stops near dozens of health and human service providers. The map shows the route of the circulator, including traveling through parts of downtown Seattle and First Hill.
The Downtown Circulator runs along 7 stops near dozens of health and human service providers. Graphic: SDOT.
Downtown Circulator stop sign graphic, showing what the signs will look like. Large text says "downtown circulator stop" and icons show the buses as accessible and free. A phone number to text is provided of 206-753-4801.
Look out for the new Downtown Circulator stop signs! Graphic: SDOT.

We are partnering with Seattle Public Schools to get families to Jump Start 

Seattle Public Schools’ (SPS) Jump Start Kindergarten Transition Program is back this summer from August 15-19! Schools have reached out to families with children entering kindergarten and invited them to participate in this optional program that helps students make the ‘jump’ to school.  

We know that transportation to and from Jump Start schools can a be a challenge for some families. So, for the second year, we are partnering with schools to offer families ORCA cards so they can take transit to attend the program. Families can request up to 4 ORCA cards preloaded with $35 in value each by filling out our online form. (Children 5 and under can still ride free on public transit and do not need to have an ORCA card). 

Want to learn more? Visit the Jump Start ORCA Program webpage! 


Update from our regional partners: Free Youth Transit Pass (AKA Free Youth Fares) take effect Fall 2022

Starting September 1, 2022, transit riders 18 and younger can take transit for free thanks to Move Ahead Washington, a statewide transportation funding package. Please note free youth fares will not be available on Washington State Ferries until October 1, 2022.  If you are a Seattle Public School student and already have an ORCA Youth card, keep it! It will serve as your new Youth Transit Pass through June 30, 2023.  

If you are 12 and younger, you are encouraged, but not required to have an ORCA card to ride. For youth 13 and older, you are highly encouraged to show one of the following to a driver: 

  1. Youth ORCA Card – please remember to “tap” on the buses and “tap off” when you ride light rail! 
  2. Current High School or Middle School ID 

Youth who do not have these will still be allowed to ride for free.  

For more updates and news, keep an eye on www.FreeYouthTransitPass.com this summer. 


The Recovery Card Program expanded to Othello and Rainier Beach! 

Last summer, we launched the Recovery Card Program to aid essential workers and small businesses as they recovered economically from the pandemic. Focusing on the Chinatown-International District and Pioneer Square, the program distributed temporary, fully-subsided ORCA cards to over 1,800 food service and grocery store workers in the area.  

The program proved a rousing success, with cardholders taking around 40,000 transit trips every month. Participants reported saving money and taking transit more frequently after receiving the card, using it to travel to and from work, grocery stores, parks, medical appointments, schools, and more. We learned that many Recovery card recipients did not have consistent access to a car and rely on public transit to get to places in their daily lives. 

Following this success, we were excited to announce the expansion of the Recovery Card Program to Othello and Rainier Beach. Beginning in June 2022, 900 additional food service and grocery workers in the area were eligible to apply for the Recovery Card. Eligible applicants can still sign up via our online form. Card benefits will expire at the end of 2022. We’re excited to hear how new participants use their ORCA Recovery Cards! 

Want to learn more and see if you’re eligible? Visit the Recovery Card Program webpage! 

We partnered with Community Liaisons to get out the word about Recovery cards! Photo of community members and City of Seattle staff smiling at a recent outreach event, with an SDOT table located in the middle.
We partnered with Community Liaisons to get out the word about Recovery cards! Photo: SDOT

Thank you for your interest in our Transportation Access Program (TAP) updates, and we hope you found this information useful!

Graphic highlighting equity as one of SDOT's core values and goals. The word equity is in large font, with a small infographic of three people to illustrate the concept.
Graphic highlighting mobility as one of SDOT's core values and goals. The word mobility is in large font, with a small infographic of a forward arrow.
Equity and mobility are two of our core values and goals. Graphics: SDOT.
Graphic highlighting the Seattle Transportation Plan and asking community members to help us imagine the future of transportation in Seattle.
Help us imagine the future of transportation in Seattle — visit our Seattle Transportation Plan Online Engagement Hub today! Graphic credit: SDOT