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Free youth fares begin

Starting September 1, people 18 and younger can ride public transit for free in most places across Washington State.

Skagit Transit and Everett Transit already implemented their Free Youth Pass programs on June 20 and July 1, respectively. Meanwhile, Community Transit, King County Metro, Kitsap Transit, Pierce Transit, Snoqualmie Valley Transportation, and Sound Transit will implement their Free Youth Pass programs on September 1. WSDOT will implement free youth fares for state ferries on October 1.

Island Transit, Snow Goose Transit, Tulalip Transit, and the DC Direct operated by the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe are entirely fare-free systems for people of all ages.

This comes as a result of the Move Ahead Washington package that was passed in March. The package included a new "transit support" program that provides new state funding public transit agencies. In order to receive the funding, public transit agencies are required to making riding transit free for youth.

State Senator Marko Liias, who represents the 21st legislative district that includes parts of Edmonds, Everett, Lynnwood, and Mukilteo, championed the package and free youth fares as chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. In an article published by Crosscut, Sen. Liias is quoted as saying, “For me and for kids growing up in the suburbs like me, getting your driver’s license at 16 was your ticket to freedom. … I want to teach the next generation that an ORCA pass is your ticket to freedom.”

Not only do free youth fares alleviate the cost burden of transportation, it can provide a gateway for youth to access school, parks, jobs, and public services without driving or relying on someone else to drive them. By removing barriers to mobility and helping youth become life-long transit riders, this becomes an important investment for generations to come.

— article written by Ed Engel, Snotrac Mobility Justice Advocate

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