Welcome to the first Transportation Access Program newsletter!

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Welcome to the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT)’s first Transportation Access Program (TAP) newsletter!

Our goal is to send this newsletter every two months (or month, as needed) on the first Wednesday of the month. This newsletter will offer updates on transportation access to our partners in community as well as at other transportation agencies. If you have any questions, concerns, or would like to contribute content in a future newsletter please email DOT_TAP@seattle.gov. 

Quick bites of our Transportation Access Programs (TAP) stories below! 

  • We’re relaunching and improving access for the Solid Ground Downtown Circulator 
  • The ORCA Recovery Card Program expanded to businesses in Othello and Rainier Beach 
  • We’re partnering with Seattle Public Schools to help families take transit to the Jump Start Kindergarten Transition Program this summer 
  • Regional Update: Free Youth Transit Pass launches September 1

Story of the Month

Hop on the New and Improved Solid Ground Downtown Circulator!

Originally launched in 2012 in partnership with Solid Ground, TAP is excited to announce the rebranding and improved access for the (Downtown) Circulator! The Downtown Circulator is a free, fixed route shuttlebus that connects riders to health and human services in downtown Seattle. The service is for everyone; no payment or proof of eligibility needed! Service animals are welcome, and the shuttle is ADA accessible. 

Our updated flyer includes information on nearby social service providers and there are new, green shuttle stop signs have been placed to help riders navigate the Circulator. The flyer is available in 8 languages and will be available on our webpage. The shuttle stops at 7 seven locations in the downtown corridor, Belltown, and First Hill. The Circulator currently operates Monday-Friday from 7am-4pm with shuttles stopping at each location every 30 minutes. If individuals have questions about the service, they can now text the Circulator phone number at (206) 753-4801 to receive information about the service on their mobile device. Please join us in promoting this resource with riders and human service partners. 

For more information, including a link to our updated and translated flyer, please visit our new Circulator webpage. 

Circulator Map

The Downtown Circulator runs along 7 stops near dozens of health and human service providers.

Circulator Stop Sign

Look out for the new Downtown Circulator stop signs! 

Program Updates

The Recovery Card Program Expanded to Othello and Rainier Beach! 

Last summer, we launched the Recovery Card Program to aid essential workers and small businesses as they recovered economically from the pandemic. Focusing on the Chinatown/International District and Pioneer Square, the program distributed temporary, fully-subsided ORCA cards to over 1,800 food service and grocery store workers in the area.  

The program proved a rousing success, with cardholders taking around 40,000 transit trips every month. Participants reported saving money and taking transit more frequently after receiving the card, using it to travel to and from work, grocery stores, parks, medical appointments, schools, and more.  We learned that many Recovery card recipients did not have consistent access to a car and rely on public transit to get to places in their daily lives. 

Following this success, TAP was excited to announce the expansion of the Recovery Card Program to Othello and Rainier Beach. Beginning in June 2022, 900 additional food service and grocery workers in the area were eligible to apply for the Recovery Card. Eligible applicants can still sign up via our online form. Card benefits will expire at the end of 2022. We’re excited to hear how new participants use their ORCA Recovery Cards! 

Want to learn more and see if you’re eligible? Visit the Recovery Card Program webpage! 

Recovery Card Distribution

We partnered with Community Liaisons to get out the word about Recovery cards! 

TAP is Partnering with Seattle Public Schools to Get Families to Jump Start 

Seattle Public Schools’ (SPS) Jump Start Kindergarten Transition Program is back this summer from August 15-19! Schools have reached out to families with children entering kindergarten and invited them to participate in this optional program that helps students make the ‘jump’ to school.  

We know that transportation to and from Jump Start schools can a be a challenge for some families. So, for the second year, TAP is partnering with schools to offer families ORCA cards so they can take transit to attend the program. Families can request up to 4 ORCA cards preloaded with $35 in value each by filling out our online form. (Children 5 and under can still ride free on public transit and do not need to have an ORCA card). 

Want to learn more? Visit the Jump Start ORCA Program webpage! 

Updates from Our Partners!

Free Youth Transit Pass (AKA Free Youth Fares) Take Effect Fall 2022

Starting September 1, 2022, transit riders 18 and younger can take transit for free thanks to Move Ahead Washington, a statewide transportation funding package. Please note free youth fares will not be available on Washington State Ferries until October 1, 2022.  If you are a Seattle Public School student and already have an ORCA Youth card, keep it! It will serve as your new Youth Transit Pass through June 30, 2023.  

If you are 12 and younger, you are encouraged, but not required to have an ORCA card to ride. For youth 13 and older, you are highly encouraged to show one of the following to a driver: 

  1. Youth ORCA Card – please remember to “tap” on the buses and “tap off” when you ride light rail! 
  1. Current High School or Middle School ID 

Youth who do not have these will still be allowed to ride for free.  

For more updates and news, keep an eye on www.FreeYouthTransitPass.com this summer. 

Make Your Voice Heard on the Seattle Transportation Plan

SDOT would like to hear about your needs and priorities so we can create a transportation system that works for everyone – now and in the future. Please tell us what you think!

The Office of Community Planning and Development (OPCD) is also asking for your help to create the Seattle Comprehensive Plan Update (the One Seattle Plan). Visit OPCD’s One Seattle Plan Engagement Hub to learn more and share your input to guide Seattle’s big-picture future.  

Looking for More Information?

Email us at DOT_TAP@seattle.gov or visit our TAP webpage!