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Seattle launches 'first-of-its-kind' program offering low-income families free public transit

Seattle launches 'first-of-its-kind' program offering low-income families free public transit 01:55

SEATTLE, January 24, 2023 - Thousands of low-income families across Seattle will be riding public transit for free over the next three years thanks to a program being called 'the first of its kind.'

"We believe that every Seattle resident, every friend, every neighbor, deserves access to our transit network," said Mayor Bruce Harrell, who was handing out free unlimited-use ORCA cards inside Hinoki Apartments Tuesday. "We will not be the city of our dreams, we will not be a world class city, unless and until we realize and recognize the value of people that come from limited means."

The city is now offering free public transit through 2026 to anyone living in a Seattle Housing Authority owned and operated property. Local leaders say it's the first combination of a low-income housing program and accessible public transit initiative at this scale in the U.S.

"10,000 residents will now have an opportunity to be more mobile and more flexible in their day as they make decisions in their life. If they decide that they need to get to the doctor's office, they have options, more options than I think they had before," said Seattle Housing Authority Director Rod Brandon.

Moxie Hubbard Shirley and her two daughters just moved to Seattle from the Midwest. They say their new ORCA cards will be a huge help in getting to know the city.

"That is so major for my family and for others." Shirley continued, "one of the goals that I have is to, and with my daughters, to ride all of the lines with the card, because we do not know where everything is."

Yesler resident Qween 'B King calls the program "a blessing."

"Someone like me with disabilities can get out, don't have to worry about how I'm going to get a dollar to get on a bus, can go to training, can go to school, can even go out here and get me a job again," King said.

Mayor Harrell adds the city's goal should be providing free public transit for everyone, and hopes the SHA Transit Pass program is a step in that direction.

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