Transportation Equity Program

Updated: February, 18 2021

What’s happening now?

We have convened our inaugural Transportation Equity Workgroup!

Learn more

Transportation Equity Resolution (Res 31773) was introduced for consideration to the Seattle City Council's Sustainability and Transportation Committee on Tuesday, September 19, 2017; Seattle City Council unanimously voted to adopt the resolution on January 2, 2018.


Seattle is one of the fastest growing cities in the country. We've gained over 100,000 residents in the last 20 years and are expected to gain another 120,000 residents in the next 20 years. From July 1, 2015, to July 1, 2016, Seattle had a net gain of nearly 21,000 people - that's 57 people per day on average. While our recent growth has created jobs and wealth for many, it has also widened our income inequality gap, particularly along racial lines.

Transportation is currently the 2nd highest household cost after housing, disproportionately affecting cost-burdened households in Seattle. Thus, SDOT is committed to prioritizing affordable transportation options and defining broader transportation equity goals and strategies in partnership with community members and other stakeholders.

What we do

In alignment with the City of Seattle's Race and Social Justice Initiative goals and core values and funded by the voter approved Proposition 1 measure passed in 2014, which, since 2015, generates $45 million annually for the Seattle Transportation Benefits District (STBD) through a 0.1% sales tax increase and a $60 Vehicle License Fee increase, SDOT established a Transportation Equity Program in 2017. STBD allows up to $2 million annually to be used to improve and support access to transit service for income eligible or low-income riders.

The Transportation Equity Program provides safe, environmentally sustainable, accessible, and affordable transportation options that support communities of color, low-income communities, immigrant and refugee communities, people with disabilities, people experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity, LGTBQ people, women and girls, youth, and seniors to thrive in place in vibrant and healthy communities, and mitigate racial disparities and the effects of displacement.

Current activities include:




Low-income Transit Access

Provides income-eligible people living, working, learning, and playing in Seattle with a pre-loaded ORCA LIFT reduced fare card through engagement & enrollment (Visit for program eligibility and enrollment details).

SDOT, Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, King County Metro, King County Public Health

Youth ORCA Program

Distributes Youth ORCA cards to high school and middle school students enrolled in Seattle Public Schools that are not eligible for an Youth ORCA card from the Seattle Public Schools

SDOT, Seattle Public Schools, King Country Metro

Vehicle License Rebate Program

Provides income-eligible residents (eligibility is the same as Utility Discount Program) with a $20 car tab rebate

SDOT, Seattle Department of Human Services, Washington State Department of Licensing

Community Conversations &
Ambassador Program

Engages community leaders and community-based organizations working in and with communities of color and low-income communities in discussions about accessible and affordable transportation options through culturally relevant and language appropriate programming, and provides capacity-building funding for transportation options education

SDOT, Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, Community-based Organizations

Program Principles

The Program's guiding principles are to:

  • Build community trust through engagement and accountability
  • Provide affordable transportation options
  • Create opportunities for communities to thrive in place

Transportation Equity Resources


For more information about the Transportation Equity Program, please email: or call (206) 684-5142.

Man waiting to board Rapid Ride bus with his dog