Blog / Published on Jan 12, 2023

Youth ridership grows with the Free Youth Transit Pass

Thousands of ORCA cards have been distributed to Snohomish County high schools

Laughing teens try to fit on a bench at a bus stop

Back in September, Community Transit began offering free rides for people 18 and younger on all transit services. Since then, many efforts have been made to “spread the word” so every kid can take advantage of this opportunity.

So far, one of the highlights has been the outreach to high school students. Roughly 5000 ORCA cards have been distributed across nine high school districts in Snohomish County. In addition to getting cards from schools, youth can get them now from the RideStore, Everett Transit customer service at Everett Station, and online with proof of age.

Overall, the first impressions of the impact of this program are positive. Data shows that youth ridership has grown to an average of 8% of total ridership since September. Several areas in Snohomish County, and some particular routes, have shown youth ridership growing to between 11-28 % of the total, according to System Planning Manager Chris Simmons, who discussed the topic at the January board meeting.

The efforts to reach out and educate youth, and their families, so they can take advantage of this program, will continue in 2023. This year, Community Transit will begin to reach out to middle schools as well as high schools.

The Free Youth Transit Pass resulted from the Move Ahead Washington transportation package, passed by the Washington State Legislature in Spring, 2022, and was approved by the Community Transit Board of Directors in August 2022. Many other transit agencies also offer free rides on their services.