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King County Executive
Dow Constantine


Nearly 5 million Metro Transit trips in 2016 were taken with ORCA LIFT cards, the latest milestone for the nation's leading reduced-fare program

Summary

King County Metro Transit passengers tapped ORCA LIFT cards nearly 5 million times in 2016. The reduced-fare program's enrollment success is the result of an innovative partnership between Metro Transit and Public Health.

Story

Nearly 5 million trips in 2016 were taken with King County Metro Transit’s ORCA LIFT cards, the latest milestone for the nation’s leading reduced-fare program for passengers who earn a lower income.

Enrollment has steadily increased each month since King County Executive Dow Constantine launched the program in March 2015. As of January, more than 40,000 residents had signed up for an ORCA LIFT card.

“The fact that Metro passengers tapped ORCA LIFT cards nearly 5 million times last year shows that our innovative enrollment strategy is working,” said Executive Constantine. “We are helping more people get to work, job interviews, school and appointments – and reach that first rung of economic opportunity.”

ORCA LIFT was only the second program of its kind when it was launched nearly two years ago. It quickly surpassed the scale of San Francisco’s reduced-fare program and is now considered a national model for increasing access to opportunity. Transit advocates in other metropolitan regions – including New York City, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Denver – have shown interest in offering a similar program.

Part of ORCA LIFT’s success is Metro Transit’s partnership with Public Health – Seattle & King County, which helps customers register and verify incomes. Passengers can sign up for an ORCA LIFT card at more than 46 locations, including colleges, food banks, human service providers, nonprofit organizations and health clinics.

Public Health and other partner agencies will continue to register new customers and help the 13,000 original cardholders renew their accounts as they reach the two-year expiration date.

Passengers can qualify for an ORCA LIFT card based on a household income level that is no more than double the poverty level established by the federal government. The reduced fares are valid on all King County Metro Transit, Sound Transit Express routes, Link light rail, Sounder trains, Kitsap Transit, King County Water Taxi and Seattle Streetcar.


Relevant links


Quotes

The fact that Metro passengers tapped ORCA LIFT cards nearly 5 million times last year shows that our innovative enrollment strategy is working. We are helping more people get to work, job interviews, school and appointments – and reach that first rung of economic opportunity.

Dow Constantine, King County Executive

Through reduced fares, the ORCA LIFT program continues to make a difference in the lives of our customers across King County, connecting people every day to opportunities in life. As a result, and our partnership with Public Health, our community is strong and growing stronger.

Rob Gannon, General Manager of King County Metro Transit

For many in our community, access to affordable transit is a key pathway to opportunity. ORCA LIFT is improving lives and shaping our region to be more equitable and affordable. We encourage residents in the Puget Sound to explore whether they qualify for this option.

Shefali Ranganathan, Executive Director of Transportation Choices Coalition

For more information, contact:

Chad Lewis, Executive Office, 206-263-1250


King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

Read the Executive's biography