Pierce Transit press release.
As a result of new state legislation, and to celebrate the start of a new school year, Pierce Transit is pleased to offer free fares for youth ages 18 and under on all Pierce Transit modes starting September 1, 2022. The Free Youth Transit Pass will allow young people to ride free on regional transit systems, too.
All youth will be able to ride transit for free. Riders ages 13 and older are encouraged to show one of the following to the driver, if they have it:
- Youth ORCA Card. Riders should tap on/off with their Youth ORCA card. The card will not expire if it’s registered and youth have until June 30, 2023, to register their card at myORCA.com.
- Current High School or Middle School Student ID
For the next few months, youth who do not have one of these items with them can still board for free. School districts and community organizations in the Pierce Transit services area will have a limited number of Free Youth Transit Passes (Youth ORCA cards) to distribute at the start of the school year. Cards may also be obtained at Pierce Transit’s Bus Shop at Tacoma Dome Station or by ordering online at myORCA.com/buy-online.
In 2023 and beyond, youth will be directed to get a Free Youth Transit Pass that allows them to tap a card—or eventually their smartphone—to access transit across the region for free.
Pierce Transit Board Chair Marty Campbell explained the goals of the free pass.
“Pierce Transit is pleased to join with regional partners to offer this important benefit to youth across our service area,” said Campbell. “Many young people need transportation to participate in after-school activities, to get to jobs and volunteer opportunities. They can use this pass to learn how to ride transit, and connect to their community, at no cost to them or their families. We hope this will prompt young people to think ‘bus-first’ and provide them with car-free commute options as adults.”
The free transit pass will reduce barriers for youth to access jobs and other life-enriching opportunities.
“The United Way of Pierce County recognizes the challenge faced by many families when it comes to finding, and paying for, transportation,” noted Dona Ponepinto, President and CEO of the United Way of Pierce County. “If children and teens do not have a way to get to educational programs, recreation, appointments and resources, they often have to forgo those important, sometimes critical, engagements. The Free Youth Transit Pass will lift some of the burden of transportation expenses from families’ shoulders, and allow limited incomes to stretch further and connections to be made.”
The Free Youth Transit Pass was made possible through the Washington State Legislature’s Move Ahead Washington transportation package. Under the legislation, transit agencies are awarded new Transit Support Grants, provided they meet certain conditions, including adopting a policy that passengers 18 years of age and younger may ride free of charge on any mode operated by the transit agency.
More information on the Free Youth Transit Pass can be found at PierceTransit.org/FreeYouthPass.