Public Transit to Become Free for Youth in Washington State

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Last week, the Washington State Legislature passed a nearly $17 billion dollar transportation package that is meant to be rolled out over the next sixteen years. Within that package, $3 billion dollars has been allocated for public transportation. However, half of that money comes with a catch for public transit agencies. In order to receive the funding, they must make all modes of public transportation free for people 18 years old and younger on Oct. 1. However, there are provisions that allow for that to be delayed until Spring of 2023. So if someone still qualifies for a Youth ORCA card during that time frame, they will no longer have to pay fares during their ride to school, work, home, or anywhere else they need to go.

The move was meant to help younger Washingtonians use public transportation more, while also helping reduce carbon emissions. At the same time, it would provide a good alternative and help ease the burden on families who have to figure out how to cope with rising gas prices. For students here at Bellevue College, it is worth figuring out how this will impact how Youth ORCA cards will be sold and provided to students. Currently, ORCA cards of all types are sold at prices of $60 and $120, and respectively come loaded with $120 and $240. The changes would most likely impact anyone who takes classes during Fall, Winter, and Spring quarters next year, with the implementation and changes taking place during that time frame.