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Seattle high school students start school with free ORCA passes

Seattle high school students started the new school year with free ORCA transit passes.

Seattle students return to school Wednesday with a free ORCA transit pass thanks to Mayor Jenny Durkan and the city council.

At orientation Tuesday, high schoolers received their free ORCA passes allowing access to King County Metro buses and Link light rail.

Seattle City Council unanimously passed a measure in June to provide free ORCA transit passes to all Seattle public high school students.

“Expanding free ORCA to high school students and Seattle Promise scholars will help students get to school and their jobs safely while saving families money,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said about her legislation in a statement. “We need to make transit safer, more reliable, and more accessible for all.”

The bill, which Durkan announced in her State of the City address in February, provides free transit passes to all Seattle public high school students and students in the Seattle Promise program, which offers two years of college tuition for Seattle high school graduates.

Currently, transit passes are provided for high school students who live farther than two miles from school. The city’s Youth ORCA Program also offers passes to 3,000 income-eligible middle and high school students. Those middle school students will continue to have access to ORCA cards.

City Council passed the bill 8-0.