FILE — Seattle bus driver

A King County Metro bus driver wipes down a handrail before stepping onto a bus Monday, May 11, 2020, in Seattle. The coronavirus pandemic has plunged Puget Sound-area transit agencies into crisis-planning mode, as ridership and revenue has plunged and predictions that people will not be returning to buses and trains in large numbers anytime soon. 

(The Center Square) – The Seattle Department of Transportation and the Seattle Housing Authority are partnering to provide free mass transit for more than 10,000 residents in low income housing.

“Our vision for a vibrant Seattle is dependent on a sustainable transportation system where neighbors can get where they need to go swiftly, reliably, and affordably,” said Mayor Bruce Harrell in a statement. “The SHA Transit Pass equitably expands access to opportunity and helps us meet our sustainability goals through a simple – and proven – premise: Given increased access to free and affordable transit, neighbors will take advantage."

The program consists of fully subsidized ORCA cards, funded by the Seattle Transit Measure.

The program entitles every person who is over 18 years of age, a SHA resident, and listed on the lease of an SHA property to one of the fully subsidized ORCA transit cards. In Seattle, anyone 18 or younger is already entitled to free use of transit.

“The free ORCA passes represent a tremendous improvement in safety, access to basic services, ability to get to jobs and overall quality of life for our residents,” said SHA Executive Director Rod Brandon in a statement.

The Seattle Transit Measure, approved by voters in November of 2020, consists of a 0.15% sales tax and is expected to raise $39 million each year over the course of its six year run for a total of $234 million.

The subsidized ORCA cards benefit expire on Dec. 31, 2026.