King County Metro’s ORCA LIFT program was recognized Monday with the Puget Sound Regional Council’s VISION 2040 award.  The award recognizes innovative projects and programs that help ensure a sustainable future as the region grows.

ORCA LIFT, launched by County Executive Dow Constantine in 2015, is considered the nation’s leading reduced-fare program for transit passengers who earn a lower income. The 50,000-plus passengers who have signed up for ORCA LIFT have tapped their cards for more than 11 million boardings.

Much of ORCA LIFT’s success is due to the innovative partnership between Metro and Public Health – Seattle & King County, tapping into the effective network of community partners that King County created to help 200,000 people sign up for affordable healthcare.

“You have created a program that works,” said PSRC Executive Director Josh Brown, who presented the award during a ceremony at Public Health’s Access and Outreach Office in Pioneer Square, where customers can sign up for ORCA LIFT and other services like medical and food. “You’ve made it easy for people to sign up and use the transit system seamlessly with all users.”

See King County TV‘s coverage of the presentation below.


Passengers can sign up for an ORCA LIFT card at 45 locations, including colleges, food banks, human service providers, nonprofit organizations and health clinics. People with household income of less than double the federal poverty level (as established by US Health and Human Services Department) qualify for ORCA LIFT.

In feedback to Metro, customers have shared how ORCA LIFT is making a difference:

“ORCA LIFT completely affects the quality if my life. The stress of worrying about how much bus fare I need for the day, or where I’m going to get it; is totally alleviated by the Orca LIFT program.

“The discounted ORCA LIFT fare allows me to afford for job training program with school attending, so I can survive under the tough financial situation with my kids.”

Other metropolitan regions – including Boston, Charlotte, Minneapolis and Portland – have contacted King County about starting a similar reduced-fare program.

More information is available on the ORCA LIFT website.